Welcome to HensDay!

Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of HensDay, a blog meet-up for those of us interested in chickens and chicken-keeping.

HensDay Badge

Today, all day, Lisa Steele of the wonderful blog Fresh Eggs Daily and I are inviting those of you who blog about chickens to join us by sharing a link to your blogs or specific blog posts to share with others. We hope to have plenty of readers visiting today, ready to discover new chicken-related online reading, and we would love to introduce them to your blog.

To join us, simply follow the link by clicking on the blue button below, and add your link to the party. I can’t wait to discover some new favorite blogs and bloggers to follow!

I’ll be keeping a running list below of the HensDay links added throughout the day, so check back regularly for more great reads.

FRESH EGGS DAILY: Why Should Eggs Be Stored Pointy End Down?
FRESH EGGS DAILY: The Basics of Natural Chicken Keeping
BACKYARD FARMER 101: How To Prevent Hawk Attacks On Your Chickens

Martha Stewart’s Chicken Coop

If you’ve read or watched much Martha Stewart, you are probably aware that she’s a longtime fan of keeping backyard chickens.

Martha Stewart's Chicken Coop

Martha with some of her flock.

And if you keep chickens yourself, you’ve probably wondered just how grand and wonderful Martha Stewart’s own chicken coop must be. Well, wonder no more. Over on her blog, Martha has a photo slideshow of her coop, or should I says coops, plural, and yes, they are just as nice as you’d expect. Her chickens (and pheasants and geese…) are gorgeous, too.

Introducing HensDay

Next week a very fun new event will launch here on my blog, as well as over at Fresh Eggs Daily.


Whether you’re a chicken keeper who blogs, a chicken keeper who reads blogs or just someone who is thinking about someday having your own backyard flock, HensDay will offer some great reads and conversation.

So join us this Wednesday, and every other Wednesday to follow as we bring the best chicken blogging on the web together for the day.

Bird Flu And Backyard Chickens: What Are The Risks

bird flu and backyard chickensIn the news today comes word that a flock of backyard chickens in Idaho has tested positive for the Avian Flu – AKA the “bird flu.” This latest confirmed infection comes after other backyard and small flocks have also recently tested positive on the west coast and up in the Pacific Northwest.

A friend who read about these outbreaks messaged me today to ask whether I was worried about our family catching the bird flu from our own little flock of backyard poultry. The answer is that while I do worry about the chickens catching the bird flu, I am not worried about humans. That’s because nothing about this outbreak poses any threat to people. The strain or strains of bird flu that are killing wild birds and chickens in certain areas of the country right now are NOT transmittable to humans.

I think when people hear “bird flu” they automatically think of the Asian strain that made so many people very sick a few years ago, and which sparked a bit of panic here in the U.S. But that bird flu has never been detected in North America – in humans or in birds.

So that’s the good news; humans aren’t at any risk from catching this avian flu from their backyard chickens or from the wild birds that live around us and among us every day. The bad news, however, is that backyard chickens ARE at risk for catching this fatal illness from migratory wild birds that come through their environments. Because wild birds are apparently the primary carriers of the strain of bird flu causing these latest outbreaks, and because we certainly do sometimes have wild birds on our property, I will be watching the news to see whether this latest bird flu outbreak seems to be spreading east. I worry because if a flock of chickens tests positive for the disease, all the chickens who aren’t already dead by that time must be euthanized to prevent further spread. That would be a terrible thing to have to do.

So am I worried about the bird flu? Yes, I am. But that’s because I worry about my little flock of merry hens, not because I am worried about whether it could make our flock of humans sick. And of course, bird flu or no bird flu, we follow strict sanitation rules at home when it comes to the chickens. We wash hands before and after handling them or collecting eggs, and we have “outdoor shoes” to wear when we’re in the backyard enjoying the chickens’ company. This is just common sense.

STUFF I LIKE: Meagan Francis, Freelance Writing Instructor

Although these days I hold down a full-time “real” job, I have been working as a freelance writer for a lot of years now, and my articles and essays have been published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and on websites. At various points along the way, my freelance income was our primary source of income. If you’re a skilled writer, making an actual living as a freelancer is definitely possible. However, you have to know how to get your foot in the door with the publications for which you’re interested in writing, and you also need to understand how to work with editors once you get assignments. Getting those first breaks as a writer is the make or break part of freelancing, and I really wish that I’d had someone smart and accomplished to guide me when I first began pitching my story ideas to editors. Someone like…. my friend Meagan Francis.

Meagan Francis

Meagan Francis

Meagan has been published everywhere from major magazines to top parenting sites, and she’s also the author of two books. On top of that, she runs the smart and thoughtful blog, The Happiest Home, and last but not least, she teaches & coaches aspiring freelance writers in how to get published and earn a paycheck from what they write. If you are someone who wonders how it’s possible to create a work-from-home writing career that actually pays, I can’t imagine a better instructor than Meagan. She’s terrific, and I wholeheartedly recommend her as a writing coach.

About my STUFF I LIKE blog posts.

A Great Pyrenees FAQ

This is Leo.

Great Pyrenees

He’s our seven year old Great Pyrenees, and we’ve had him since he was a 6 week old puppy. Here he is with C on the evening we first brought him home seven years ago.

Great Pyrenees

He was an insanely cute puppy, as you can see.

Great Pyrenees Puppy

Leo as a pup

And as a grown dog, he’s pretty much the best canine I could imagine having as part of our family. He’s also a really large (even by Great Pyrenees standards) and impressive-looking dog, so when we take him out for a walk, or I show off a photo of him on Facebook or Instagram, people frequently ask questions about what kind of dog he is, and what the breed is like to own, etc, etc. Leo is my second Great Pyrenees, and I’ve also done some Great Pyrenees rescue over the years, so I know the breed relatively well, and since I do get questions about Leo and Great Pyrenees dogs fairly often, I figured I’d write a blog post to delve into what it’s like to live with a Great Pyrenees in a city, suburban or “backyard farm” setting. So here’s my basic Great Pyrenees FAQ for those interested in maybe acquiring one of these awesome dogs for their own family.

Continue reading

Can Anyone Identify This Plant?

Can any of y’all identify this plant for me? It started popping up all over my garden in late fall and it’s now spreading like crazy. It’s very green – even now in the dead of winter – and it’s at a groundcover height.

What the heck is this plant?

What the heck is this plant?

Whatever it is, it’s entirely new to my garden. I have no idea where it came from.

Anyone have any ideas?

Backyard Chickens In Winter

All my hens except for Essie, my little Rhode Island Red seem to have weathered the recent cold snap quite well.

Rhode Island Red

That’s Essie – she’s the red hen there on the right, eating some crackers.

Essie looks peaked to me. Her eyes are a little droopy and she just seems off in general. I am hoping against hope that she doesn’t actually get sick.

The other girls are doing just fine.

English Orpington

Rosie the English Orpington

Wheaten Marans

Gladys, our wheaten Marans followed by Frances, the splash Orpington.

Frances, my splash Orpington and Gladys, my wheaten Marans are laying fairly regularly now – since Christmas Day when I got our first egg in MONTHS from any of them. I’m currently getting 2-3 eggs weekly from Frances and 3-4 weekly from Gladys. That’s not a great production rate from either one of them but it’s better than I am getting from any of my other hens this time of year.

The eggs we are getting are yummy, though. Look at how much brighter the color is in the yolks of fresh-from-a-healthy-chicken eggs as opposed to eggs you buy at the store (which almost always come from factory farmed, production chickens)

scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs from our backyard chickens.