How to Get Started Winter Bird Feeding

Feeding the birds in winter is a fun way to stay connected with nature, participate in some citizen science studies and maybe learn a thing or two. Winter is naturally a time when we spend more time indoors, but that doesn't mean we have to leave nature behind.
 
Find out how to get started winter bird feeding - what you'll need to feed the birds and what you'll need to see and identify them.
A white-throated sparrow.

DIY Holiday Spice Ornaments

You hear it said over and over again that nothing beats the smell of Christmas. I agree! That's why making these holiday spice ornaments has become a tradition in my house.


How to Make a Homemade Snow Globe

Make a DIY Chicken-Themed Snow Globe to Celebrate Your Flock


Handmade snow globes are popular these days for good reason. They are one of the most rustic and versatile crafts you can make. Both adults and kids love them. They can be themed any way you like. And you can make them with or without water.


How To Make Christmas Ornaments From Eggs

With all the beautifully colored eggs we have from our backyard flocks, why not take a few and turn them into Christmas ornaments. They require little crafting skill and are a great way to salvage eggs you're using for holiday baking.

christmas-egg-ornaments

Keeping Potted Rosemary Healthy All Year

In the language of herbs, the rosemary plant is known for remembrance. And if you’ve ever smelled the fresh piney scent of rosemary, it’s not likely something you’ll forget. Most herb gardeners grow this must-have plant in their gardens during the spring, summer and early fall. But what do you do with a healthy rosemary plant over the winter if you live in the north? 

Find out how to bring your rosemary plant indoors and enjoy it for the winter and beyond...
All the ingredients to repot this root bound rosemary – a new bigger pot, pebbles, sand and soil.

Sage - The Thanksgiving Herb

Thanksgiving and sage. The two go together like birds of a feather. Haha! Seriously, though, sage is the classic Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing seasoning. It's reach, though, extends beyond the holidays into a year-round classic for other culinary delights and in herbal teas.

What Can Chickens Eat? Can You Feed Chickens Table Scraps?

Feeding chickens scraps from the kitchen is a great way to give them healthy treats and make sure your leftovers don’t go to waste. Next time you clean out your refrigerator, scrape the dinner plates or bring home leftovers from dinner out, why not set some aside for your flock? They’ll love you for it!

Lots of folks wonder about what to feed chickens for treats. Generally, is if it’s good for you, it’s good for them, remembering to leave out anything that’s fried, sugary, salty, alcoholic or moldy.


Easy DIY Thanksgiving Decorations

Thanksgiving decorations don't have to be hard to make or require tons of craft supplies. For easy DIY Thanksgiving decorations, look no farther than your pantry. No need to stress over decor!

Easy DIY Thanksgiving decorations you can make at the last minute with pantry staples and an extra jar or two.

Depending on the glass piece you use, this can be a beautiful decoration for a living room table or a fireplace mantle. You can also use it for a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving spread. Maybe make a few and line them in the middle of your table as a decorative accent with candlelight to boot.

DIY Cinnamon Stick Candles

The fall and winter holidays are a time for warmth and home. Few smells define these holidays more than cinnamon. These DIY cinnamon stick candles will make your home smell beautiful and cover the range of holidays from Thanksgiving through Christmas and beyond.


DIY Spooky Halloween Bottles

Yes, Halloween's about costumes and candy, but you've got to dress up more than yourself. Raid your recycling bin and make these adorable, spooky bottles to dress up your house. They're easy to make and they'll last forever. 

I originally got this idea when my mom gave me an article from her Woman’s Day magazine about wine bottle spirits. It was such a cute idea that I jumped at the chance to make this craft. I think these spooky Halloween bottles make unique decorations and provide the perfect excuse to enjoy an adult beverage; not a bonus you get with many crafts. You can actually make them with any bottles you've got on hand. The round pumpkin pictured in the instructions is an old pickle jar. But beware; if you want to make lots of these, you’ll probably have to ask friends and family for their extra bottles.

Raid your recycling bin and make these adorable, spooky bottles to dress up your house. They're easy to make and they'll last forever.


The Ohio National - A Living Poultry Catalog

The Ohio National billed as America's largest annual poultry show, is held each November in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. If you live nearby or you're in the mood for a road trip, this is well worth a visit. The show is a sight to behold!

This year it will be held November 9 - 10 in the Voinovich Building and boasts close to 8400 entries. The poultry sales area will now be held in the O'Neil Building which is bigger and has a cement floor.


The Leghorn Chicken - Breed Spotlight

Who doesn’t know Foghorn Leghorn? This cartoon rooster single-handedly made Leghorn chickens a household name. But aside from cartoon fame, Leghorns are famous among backyard chicken owners for being a reliable and prolific white egg laying chicken breed.

Class: Mediterranean
Origin: Italy
Comb Type: Single
Popular Colors: White, Light Brown, Exchequer
Standard Size: 4.5 Pounds (Hen) 6 Pounds (Rooster)
Egg Color: White
Egg Size: Large
Production: 5+ Eggs Per Week (Varies by Color)
Hardiness: Heat Tolerant
Disposition: Active, Skittish

Leghorns are famous among backyard chicken owners for being a reliable and prolific white egg laying chicken breed.
Brown Leghorn

Does Chicken Egg Color Affect Taste?

Does chicken egg color affect taste? It's a common question. When people see green or blue eggs, they'll ask out loud if they taste different. Some people voice strong opinions by saying they like brown eggs better than white. Even seasoned chicken keepers venture into this question and say some of their chickens lay eggs that taste more creamy and better than others.

Let's face it. People associate egg taste with shell color. But do eggs with different colored shells taste different? No. Eggshell color has nothing to do with taste. Egg tastes only change because of a hen’s diet and the egg’s freshness.


Molting Chickens Explained

Molting is a natural process that chickens go through at different times in their lives. A chicken's first molts take place as it grows from a baby chick to an adult. Because they're babies, we tend to think of this as a process of growing up, and it is, but it's technically molting.

As adult chickens, molting takes place in late summer and fall when birds replace old feathers with new plumage.

molting-chickens


DIY Kitty Litter Bucket Storage - A Purrfect Solution!

This exclusive is brought to you by the publishers of The New Pioneer magazine. You can subscribe to the quarterly magazine by visiting OutdoorGroupStore.com.

Photos, Drawings & Story By Robin J. Miller

Cat litter pails are sturdy containers with hinged lids that can hold a surprising amount of material: from toys to poultry grit to grains to oyster shells to assorted soil remineralization supplies. This rack converts bucket clutter into a useful tool.


What is the Preen Gland on a Chicken?

The uropygial gland, better known as the preen gland or oil gland, is located near the base of the tail. It's normally hidden under feathers, but molting and feather loss can expose it. What is the preen gland on a chicken? It’s a gland that produces the oil that chickens use when preening their feathers.


Can You Raise Chicks in the Fall?

Chick season is prominent in the spring, but can you raise chicks in the fall? Yes. In many parts of the country, fall weather is mild and raising chicks is easy. But even in the North, raising chicks in the fall is possible and even preferable by many. If you'd like to start a flock or expand your existing flock, fall is a great time to take the plunge!


Make Your Own Herb Vinegar

If your garden's been prolific, you’ve got lots of herbs that you don’t want to go to waste. So, why not make some herb vinegar? This is a great way to preserve tender herbs, such as basil and lemon balm. It provides a tasty addition to your menus. And, if you make an extra batch or two, you can use it for homemade holiday gifts.


A Guide to Common Owl Species

No matter where you live, even the suburbs, you've most likely got some resident owls around your house and backyard. This field guide shows identifying features and behaviors to common owl species so you know who’s who and how to attract owls by making your homestead owl-friendly. If you've got chickens, you can protect your birds from owls in much the way you know how to protect chickens from hawks.


How to Protect Chickens From Owls

Owls aren't the biggest threat to chickens, but they can sometimes pose a threat so it's good to know how to keep your flock safe. Learn how to keep owls away from chickens and how to appreciate the benefits owls have on the farm.


Brahma Chicken - Breed Spotlight

One of the largest chicken breeds, the Brahma is often referred to as the "King of All Poultry" and along with the Cochin, Brahmas helped to fuel the British and American obsession with poultry "Hen Fever" of the 1850s.

Brahmas are beautiful chickens with feathered feet and legs and a gentle personality that fits the needs of a family flock.
A young Light Brahma hen.

How to Make a Burlap Wreath

If you're wondering how to make a burlap wreath, you're in luck. It's easy and it's popular. With farmhouse decorating being in fashion, burlap is homey and a reminder of simpler times. It can be dressed up or stand-alone, so it can fit any need.


How Do You Know How Old a Chicken Is?

Hatching eggs and buying day-old chicks are two popular ways to build a backyard flock. In those cases, you know how old your chickens are. But sometimes opportunities to add full-grown birds present themselves — swap meets, poultry shows, trading with friends, to name a few. Other than the previous owner's word, how do you know how old a chicken is? For some, age isn't important. For others, it matters.


How to Use Rosemary in Your Home and Chicken Coop

Rosemary uses are as varied as its varieties from the kitchen, throughout the house and even to the chicken coop. A native of the Mediterranean, Portugal and northwestern Spain, the name rosemary means "sea-dew" since its blossoms have a dew-like appearance. Known for remembrance, rosemary is certainly a hard-to-forget herb!

Do Chickens Eat Ticks and Spiders?

Have you ever wondered if chickens eat ticks and spiders? The short answer is yes. In fact, before we got chickens, I did a lot of research on this subject because we had a problem with black widow spiders.


An Overview of What to Feed Chickens

Whether you're a new or a veteran backyard chicken keeper, it’s natural to wonder just what to feed chickens. When you get your first chickens, you grab a bag of starter feed, but what happens next? And exactly what starter feed should you grab?


Chicken Breeds Made in America

Just in time for Fourth of July, it’s fun to consider adding some truly American chicken breeds to your flock. These breeds are the backbone of a hardy, productive flock. They are good egg layers with high levels of production. They can endure the tough weather we often get in this country. And many have unique features, such as hawk-coloring to avoid predator detection. Nothing fancy, only purpose, for these breeds whose history, in many cases, goes back to our founding fathers and helped to bring about a growing nation.


All About Double Yolk Chicken Eggs

What is a double yolk egg? It's simply a single-shelled egg with two yolks inside and it's not as uncommon as you might think.


How to Keep Chickens Cool in Summer

Keeping your chickens cool in summer is a must do. There's nothing we can do to stop the heat, but we can help our chickens beat the heat.

With the mercury rising, it's important to remember that high temperatures can be harder on a flock than the cold temperatures of winter. The effects of heat are cumulative and can be enhanced by high humidity, so be sure to keep vigilant during heat spells. A temperature of 80 degrees with high humidity can bring on heat-related problems.


Growing and Making Fresh Herbal Tea

As summer heats up, the herb garden is in full swing and many of the herbs have grown so big that it’s time for them to have some trimming done to encourage fullness and regrowth. What do you do with all those trimmings? Make a fresh herbal tea, of course! If you’ve never had fresh herb tea, it’s definitely something you should try. It’s easy and delicious!
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and grows rapidly.
I usually cut mine back once or twice a season to keep it under control.

Four Pre-Made Chicken Coop Options

If you’ve got a backyard flock, or are just starting one, a chicken coop is probably top of mind. We’ve had a flock for years and we had to build our coop from scratch since we live on a hill and the entrance to our backyard is limited — we couldn’t move a fully assembled pre-made chicken coop into our yard. Even so, I’m always looking at coops wherever I find them. I love to see all the features and styles for inspiration. 

Here's a look at some basic pre-made chicken coops through a veteran chicken keeper’s eyes.

Top Ten Facts About Roosters

Some folks can't have a rooster in their flock, but if you can, these top 10 facts about roosters may just have you considering adding these beauties to your backyard flock.

5 Tips for Successfully Planting Herbs in Pots

Planting herbs in pots has benefits for everyone from the space-starved gardener to the gardener with poor soil and everyone in between. Herbs in pots can fill gaps in the garden, allow special care of plants that require a little effort and provide a temporary home for herbs like rosemary and scented geraniums that will need to be moved inside during Northern winters.


A Top Ten List of the Best Chickens for Eggs

Most folks keep a flock of chickens for their eggs and having the best chicken breeds for eggs makes all the difference. In this regard, not all breeds are created equal. So if your motive is to get eggs, check out this top ten list of productive breeds. You'll soon find these breeds will be the backbone of your backyard flock.


Homemade Bath Salts and Scrubs

I love making bath salts and scrubs! They are decadent, yet easy to make. These two recipes are so great you’ll probably find yourself making them for holidays and special occasions since they're perfect for gift giving.

All the ingredients can be found at your local grocery, craft store or online. There's almost no excuse not to make them for your next bath. Just grab the ingredients from your pantry and you're ready for a relaxing soak in the tub. You can also make bath salts ahead of time and store them in your bathroom closet so they’re always handy. They’re great for your skin and can be tailored to meet your specific needs.


What is Coltsfoot?

Are you seeing dandelions in the spring? You may want to double check. Those yellow flowers you're seeing could be coltsfoot.

While its flowers are pretty, this plant is actually named after its leaves which resemble a horseshoe in cross section. Coltsfoot flowers pop up in early spring and are often found in poor, disturbed soils. (Which is why it grows next to my driveway!) The leaves don't appear until after the flowers have died back and the plant has gone to seed, so in the spring, the flowers show up with no apparent leaves. 

what is coltsfoot
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)


The Backstory on Hornet Nests

Bald-Faced Hornet nests have a story to tell. Through most of the year, hornet nests are barely visible tucked in trees with leaves surrounding them. But in winter, hornet nests are easily found and fascinating structures that can be safely explored without fear of repercussion. Around my neck of the woods, bald-faced hornets make beautiful, teardrop-shaped nests that provide a home base for the colony from spring to late fall.

In winter, hornet nests are easily found and fascinating structures that can be safely explored without fear of repercussion. Find out more about these fascinating creatures.

New Hampshire Chicken - Breed Spotlight

The New Hampshire Red chicken is a great family-friendly bird that's named for the state where it was developed. Many confuse this breed with the Rhode Island Red which makes sense because it was originally developed from Rhode Island Red stock. This is a good dual-purpose bird that matures early and consistently lays brown eggs.

Class: American
Origin: United States
Comb Type: Single
Color: Red
Standard Size: 6.5 Pounds (Hen) 8.5 Pounds (Rooster)
Egg Color: Brown
Egg Size: Large
Production: 4 to 5 Eggs Per Week
Hardiness: Cold and Heat Tolerant
Disposition: Calm, Friendly

The New Hampshire chicken is a great family-friendly bird that's named for the state where it was developed. This is a good dual-purpose bird that matures early and consistently lays brown eggs.
Big Red and our Buff Orpington (behind) are two of our most friendly chickens.
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