Clean as a Whistle

DSC_0821 Don't you wish sometimes you could freeze time? Like after you have just finished deep-cleaning your chicken coop. All the cobwebs are swept away, all of the old bedding has been removed, dust and dirt has been vacuumed out, and the entire chicken coop has been sprayed with Orange Guard.

New bedding has been placed back into the coop, and it is the small window of time--the moment when your chicken coop is as clean as it will ever be before the next needed deep cleaning. Soon enough, the stampede of your flock rushes back in to take over their beloved coop and territory once again. It is always a moment to pause.

DSC_0822 Don't forget about deep cleaning the nesting boxes, too. Keeping your nesting boxes clean, and with clean bedding makes for happy hens. I mention in my new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)), keeping your chicken coop clean and well-maintained goes a long way in raising happy, healthy, and thriving chickens. How often you have to deep-clean your chicken coop is dependent on many variables such as how big is your flock, what kind of chicken coop set-up you have, and how you manage your routine cleaning.

Orange Guard is a great product that is safe for use around your pets, chickens, and chicken coop. You can safely use it on ant trails that can invade your home this time of year. I buy my Orange Guard at Ace Hardware, or search the store locator on Orange Guard. It successfully repels bugs such as fleas, ants, roaches, and mites that might harbor in cracks and hard to reach surfaces. It is a contact killer that suffocates insects by destroying their waxy respiratory lining. It is meant to be sprayed on surfaces until it saturates the surface. Orange Guard is not meant to be applied to animals directly, such as chickens. Do not apply it to water directly either as it can be hazardous to aquatic invertebrates.

When applying Orange Guard, I have my chickens free-ranging in my garden and away from their coop I am cleaning. After applying Orange Guard, I let my chicken coop air out for a minimum of an hour. I usually purchase the large 128 fluid ounce size. The handy spray nozzle that comes with this size doesn't always work very well, and I often have to use Orange Guard in a smaller spray bottle. Ideally, I clean my coop on a warm sunny day, when I can be in the garden and my chickens can happily free-range for at least half a day.

If you see actual bugs on your chickens, such as fleas, lice, and mites there is a safe non-toxic product called Poultry Protector by MannaPro. Poultry Protector is not meant to be sprayed into eyes. Poultry Protector can be found at most feed stores or online. Always follow the recommended instructions on the label. For chickens that have mites or fleas around their eyes, spray Poultry Protector in a clean non-porous container and dab clean Q-tips with Poultry Protector, gently around the eye area--avoiding getting anything in your chickens' eyes.

With the rising popularity of backyard flocks and raising chickens, there are more and more safe and non-toxic environmentally safe products to use around your chicken coop and on your chickens. Always follow the specific directions on product labels to ensure correct application and usage of product.

Please share how you deep-clean your chicken coop. Please comment on non-toxic environmental safe products you use around your chicken coop and on your chickens.

Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies

51DJ+VHcuBL._SY300_ Hot off the press! My new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor, Rob Ludlow of www.BackYardChickens.com, is now available on amazon and in bookstores. You can order the book now from my right side bar below. Please tell all of your chicken-loving friends! Gardening with chickens is a great way to create sustainability in your garden, enhance your soil, eliminate pests and weeds, produce a delicious home-grown protein source, and all the while--be amused by these little "garden warriors." We give you basic animal husbandry elements needed to provide a healthy environment for chickens, what you and your family should expect if you are new to chickens, and how your garden will be enhanced with the addition of chickens. We focus on garden basics, and how to create a beneficial garden where chickens will be happy, healthy, and thrive. We help you understand garden structure, layering, and how to create an ornamental garden as well as an edible garden for you and your chickens.

We provide all different plant lists and purposes which are helpful for chickens free-ranging in your garden. We help you understand what is good to feed your chickens, and what is potentially harmful. We also help you with deterring predators with common sense management, innovative products, and specialty fencing.

We're excited to share our new book with all of you, whether you are new to chickens, new to gardening, or already experienced in both. Stay tuned as we launch the book!

Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend

Starting PVFS Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend in Garden Flats In doing research for my upcoming new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor Rob Ludlow of BackYard Chickens, I stumbled across Peaceful Vally Farm Supply's Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend. What a find!

This organic forage blend is a real treat for your hens. It is available in 1 pound to 1,000 pound quantities. You can grow in it on a large scale in a pasture, in your garden, in a chicken run or zone, or even in 17" garden flats like I did.  Warning, Peaceful Vally Farm Supply recommends not grazing horses on this mixture. Flax can form prussic acid when exposed to frost.

This forage blend is a warm season crop in mild climates, and can be sowed after danger of frost in cooler climates. It needs regular irrigation, and most likely needs to be replanted each year. Keep your seeds moist, and your chickens away from this blend until it is the desired height for your chickens. Surprisingly, seeds germinate immediately, and in less than two weeks time is 3" to 5" high, the perfect height for chickens to graze.

In 2 weeks time, the forage blend is ready to be given to your chickens.

Peaceful Vally Farm Supply has refined this unique forage blend from their own expertise, feedback from backyard poultry enthusiasts, and university research. This blend consists of alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, flax, millet, rye, and rye grass. Feeding your chickens this forage blend ensures their eggs will be rich in Omega-3  fatty acids, an important component of a healthy diet for those eating their eggs.

My happy hens love this forage blend, and your chickens will too

My chickens go crazy for this blend as you can see in the photo. Most chickens devour the blend before the plants can set seed. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply tells me you can try and grow this forage blend in a raised bed with a protective wire over it to keep your chickens from eating it roots, and all. With the protective wire, the grass might have time to replenish itself, if you keep your chickens away from it as regrowth begins.This blend is not only great for chickens, but ducks and turkeys,too.

If you order the Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend from Peaceful Vally Farm Supply for your chickens, be sure and tell them VintageGardenGal recommended it.

My Hens are Eggcited About....

DSC_0847 If you haven't heard already, the San Diego Master Gardener's Seminar is around the corner on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Check out their website, Master Gardener Spring Seminar . There is still time to sign up for classes.

My hens are eggcited, because I am going to be speaking at the 8:30am session, on "Companion Gardening with Backyard Chickens", something very near and dear to my hens, who love to be out with me in the garden. Learn how to have a beautiful, thriving garden, along with a healthy happy flock of chickens. This speaking engagement kicks off the celebration of my new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with co-author Rob Ludlow from www.backyardchickens.com. Stay tuned, as we launch our "eggciting" new book!

"Copper Penny" Lays Pullet Eggs

Pullet Eggs Are Tiny My Black Star hen, Copper Penny, started laying her first eggs around five months old. They are perfect in every way, but tiny at first. Pullet eggs are about as big in size as a wine cork. Gradually her egg size increased as her egg production continued. Black Star hens are good layers, with a pretty brown egg.

Double Yolk Egg

Pullets, hens that are less than a year old, usually start laying at 5-6 months old. As they begin laying, they have small eggs, at first which naturally increase in size. Young hens sometimes have egg irregularities such as shell-less eggs and double-yolks--two yolks in one egg. Have patience, in no time their egg-laying straightens out quickly.

A double-yolk egg is much larger in size, sometimes in width as well as length. It is not real common, but more common with young pullets starting their egg-laying production. Two yolks are ovulated at the same time, rather than one. Occasionally, it is an inherited trait, in which a hen regularly lays double-yolked eggs. Double-yolked eggs are prized eggs.

My Dark Star Hen, Copper Penny "Copper Penny" in a regal pose. The Black Star breed is a trade name for black sex-link hybrid chickens. The Black Sex Link breed is defined as the offspring of a non-barred cock with a barred hen. Usually, the cock is a Rhode Island Red or a New Hampshire breed, and the hen is a Barred Plymouth Rock. Normally, the offspring cockerels (males) are barred, and the pullets (females) are dark with some red feathers. In Penny's case, she is dark feathered with copper red neck and hackle feathers.

I've raised her since she was two weeks old. When she was a chick she was always the curious one, flying up on my back and shoulder. As she has matured, she still flies up on my back and shoulder when you she has a chance. With that said, I think I a chicken's defining personality is evident very early on in their lives.

Please share if you have young pullets starting to lay their first eggs. Please comment if you have gotten double-yolk eggs from your hens.

Pretty as a Pullet

Look closely, these pullets are just nearing two months old. Almost fully feathered, and already acting like full-fledged chickens, these are but young pullets that were born on May 2 & 9, 2012. How fast they grow up. A pullet is generally described as a young hen under a year old. These pullets are sweet, and already full of individual personalities. This is a photo of the flock in their outside pen, getting their day going with a little breakfast of feed, fresh lettuce, and chard from my garden.

My local feed store had a wonderful tempting variety of chicks on hand. I bought a few different breeds. Buff Orpingtons, always warm and friendly. Cuckoo Marans, a bit more flighty in nature, but somewhat rare to find for sale. Ameraucanas, because I want to learn more about this breed. Welsummer, a dutch-originated breed that is suppose to have a gently disposition, lay deep brown eggs, and are not broody.

Please share if you have a new flock this spring and summer. Please share if you are new to the "joy of backyard chickens."

 

Cluck for "The Chicken Encyclopedia"

VintageGardenGal is proud to be Day 2 of the fifteen-day Blog Book Tour celebrating Gail Damerow's "The Chicken Encyclopedia."  See below for a complete listing of the dates and chicken blogs participating. You may also visit, Storey's Blog for more information.

I'd like to share with you, Julia, one of my favorite poultry breeds, an Ameraucana hen. Ameraucana's are wonderful in so many ways. First, their feathers are a beautiful honey color, 2) they lay a blue-green egg--like a natural Easter egg, and 3) they are a large hen that is hardy and thrives in a backyard flock. Ameraucana's have a pea comb, beards and muffs, instead of wattles.

In Gail Damerow's just-released book, The Chicken Encyclopedia: An Illustrated Reference, Damerow describes the Ameraucana breed as originally from Chile, and one of only two breeds that lay this special blue-colored egg. She also writes the Ameraucanas breed has many many color varieties, and can be large or bantam in size. In Damerow's new book, she lists and describes many more poultry breeds at your finger tips.

The Chicken Encyclopedia: An Illustrated Reference is a concise A to Z reference book on chickens. This is a must have reference for those of you who have backyard chickens, and love everything about chickens.

My hen, Julia, would like to share with you all, the celebration of The Chicken Encyclopedia, and a contest that  Storey Publishing  has generously sponsored for a free book to one of VintageGardenGal's lucky readers.

Prize: One copy of the The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gaill Damerow. Entry Deadline: March 15, 2012 How to Enter: Post a comment below on this post about your favorite poultry breed, and why this breed is so special to you. Please note only U.S. residents only. Please include your e-mail address in your comment, to be able to contact you. One lucky winner will be chosen for the best response. Good luck! Quick update. Thank you everyone for participating and all of your comments. VintageGardenGal's lucky winner was Kim Rocha of San Antonio, Texas.

The celebration of Gail Deamerow's newly-released book, The Chicken Encyclopedia, kicks off with a blog tour. Please follow along as this blog tour unfolds, and you will be introduced to a clutch of interesting chicken blogs.  Here is the official schedule for you to follow:

2-Mar, For the Love of Chickens, For the Love of Chickens 3-Mar, VintageGardenGal, VintageGardenGal 4-Mar, The Garden Roof Coop, The Garden Roof Coop 5-Mar, Common Weeder, Common Weeder 6-Mar, Chickens in the Road, Chickens in the Road 7-Mar, Garden Rant, Garden Rant 8-Mar, Fresh Eggs Daily, Fresh Eggs Daily 9-Mar, My Pet Chicken Blog, My Pet Chicken 10-Mar, Coop Thoughts, Coop Thoughts 11-Mar, BoHo Farm and Home, Boho Farm and Home 12-Mar, Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs, Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs 13-Mar, A Charlotte Garden, A Charlotte Garden 14-Mar, Farm Fresh Fun, Farm Fresh Fun 15-Mar, The HenCam, HenCam 16-Mar, Life on a Southern Farm, Life on a Southern Farm 17-Mar, ADozenGirls, The Chicken Chick, ADozenGirls 18-Mar, North Coast Gardening, North Coast Gardening

Hooray for Chickens!

My hens are so excited to share with you a new exciting book just released, Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom. I met Jessi last July in Seattle at a national garden bloggers conference, Seattle Fling, when Jessi was just completing this book.

Jessi Bloom has written a terrific book on chickens, and the many facets of the fine line of keeping happy, healthy, chickens in a beautiful backyard garden setting. It is a fresh and informative book on chickens. I consider myself a chicken aficionado, and I think her book is right on. Her tips are little tidbits of chicken wisdom.

That's not all, now through February 17, 2012, Timber Press is currently hosting a contest highlighting Free-Range Chickens and featuring great chicken-related prizes to win. If you love chickens, or you are thinking of getting chickens this spring, this is a great read and guide.

Please share if you let your chickens free range in your backyard garden setting. Please comment how you were introduced to keeping chickens. Please share what you like most about your backyard chickens. Please comment on how you name your chickens.

Chic 'N Treats

My morning ritual for my hens is complete by giving them fresh treats. Chickens love a treat, and I know my hens, Charley, a White-Crested Blue Polish hen, and Dahlia, a Silver Spangled Hamburg hen, look forward to their special treat each morning. Treats are given in addition to their endless bucket of chicken laying mash and plenty of fresh water.

Remember, what your hen eats will determine the flavor of her eggs. Avoid giving your hens anything with strong flavors such as onion and garlic greens.

Examples of great treats for chickens are fresh lettuces, sorrel, spinach, chard, corn on the cob, and cut up fruit (apples,figs, peaches, strawberries). Giving them a fresh treat is healthy, and occupies them in a good way.

You can train your hens to eat their treats out of your hand, too. It is a great way to bond with your chickens. Please share if you give your chickens special treats. Please comment on what treats you give your chickens.

VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme..... Recently, online design and trend magazine, Standard Magazine, Fall 2011, gave VintageGardenGal's  hens and chicken coop a few cameos. Check out their trendy article on diverse chicken coops.

Bonnie and Her Hens Say Hello What, Are You Chicken?

Chicken Coop Photo Contest Winners 2011

 

The Slater Family in Claremont, California, takes First Place in this year's VGG Chicken Coop Photo Contest. This is a classy chicken coop with darling storybook details.

Not only is this an incredibly cute chicken coop, it is well designed. You can easily see where the eggs are collected and where their hens have their enclosed outside area. This city backyard chicken coop is nestled in a quiet spot, beautifully integrated in with their garden.

The Slater's compost their chicken manure for vegetable gardening, and share their eggs with friends and neighbors. Their flock consists of Black Copper & Splash Marans, Red Laced Blue Wing Wyandotte, and a Blue Ameraucana. They have demonstrated beautifully a whimsical design in a small spot, such as a city backyard.

Monte & Donna Partlow on the Olympic Peninsula in Sequim, Washington, are this year's VGG Second Place Winners with their immaculate coop creation, Many Feathers Cottage. This "black and white" chicken coop beauty has been lovingly assembled for their flock of 2 Red Stars, 1 Black Star, and 1 Australop, who are happy to call this their home.

This chicken cottage is charming, but also "state of the art" with electrical wiring, insulation, vinyl flooring and base, and an installed "manure box" under a removable hardware cloth grate for easy cleaning.

It has seamless access to an outside pen, with an exterior door. An operable window and louvered vent provide proper ventilation. Note the hanging thermometer for temperature readings, green roosting bar mounted off of the floor, chain-hanging feeder and water-er, and adjustable height heat lamp. It has all of the "bells and whistles" for keeping chickens.

Tonita Fernandez of Enumclaw, Washington, is this year's VGG Third Place winner with her cleverly re-purposed playhouse turned into shabby chic chicken coop. Her chic coop is a fine example of starting with an existing playhouse, or building and modifying it into a chicken coop with interesting salvaged materials.

She reclaimed this row of incredible chicken nesting boxes from an old barn, which was more than a 100 years old. She decorated her coop with "cleanable" wallpaper, a crystal chandelier, and pink stenciling. A re-purposed milk can conveniently stores her organic chicken feed. By her chicken coop entrance, she has a blooming flower box and fun, chicken-related pieces.

Tonita says, "Fixing up a special little house for the hens is my way of appreciating and being thankful to them for their contribution to our food supply". Tonita has also been involved in rescuing dogs for over thirty years. Her lucky dogs, are given plenty of fresh organic eggs in their diet.

Congratulations to these winners! Your coops are fabulous. Many thanks to everyone who participated, and supported VGG in this contest. I heard from people from all over, who love their chickens.

I'm hoping you can reap ideas and inspiration from the above chicken coops for your own yard or garden. Chicken coops can be individualized, and customized for size and style. Chickens are part of the family, just like any other pets. Chicken coops become an extension of one's garden. Chicken coops can be beautiful, as well as functional and practical. Keeping chickens is wonderful.

My Hens Take Five

Three Buddies In The Garden It is blissful when all of your hens get along easily. My three hens, Charley, Dolly, and Dahlia have been together since they were day old chicks. They get along famously, and move around in my garden as a unit. They are never far from one another. It was special to find them all together in the warm sandy soil under one of my Pink Breath of Heaven shrubs.

Out in the garden, my hens are usually so active, poking for bugs, greens, and treats. The sunny warm soil must have been so inviting, they had to take five, and relax together. Sand flung up on their backs is soothing and cleansing to them. This is the ultimate dirt bath that chickens love.

Hens that are the same age, and have grown up together have better chances of getting along and avoiding the sometimes cruel pecking order.

VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme....

The 6th Annual Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour is Saturday, April 30, 2011, from 10am to 4pm. The featured neighborhood this year is the historic tree-lined Crest Drive in Cardiff, with diverse gardens and panoramic views of our community west to the ocean, and east to the backcountry. Don't miss it!

You can purchase tickets online at Encinitas Garden Festival, and at these local nurseries: Anderson's La Costa Nursery, Barrels and Branches, Cedros Gardens, The Madd Potter, and Weidner's Gardens.

Three Hens A Nesting

Three Is Not A Crowd People always ask me about their hens and nesting boxes. How many nesting boxes to build for their number of hens. Why are all their hens using the same nesting box. Why does my hen lay her eggs outside and not in her nesting box. What are the best measurements for a hen's nesting box.

My response to everyone is borrowed from a wonderful framed poster I use to have of a colorful caricature of a big sassy reddish brown hen with the saying, "The sun has a right to set where it wants and so may I add as a hen." I use to interpret that poster as "follow your bliss in lIfe" and "be true to yourself."

Since I've experienced the wonderful world of backyard chickens for the last ten years or so, I realize that poster literally captured the essence of a happy laying hen. They naturally do their own thing, when it comes to laying their eggs.

Reaching into VintageGardenGal archives, I have written a detailed previous post on "Backyard Chicken Coop", "Nesting Boxes", with hen to nesting box ratios, measurements, ideal setting, and nesting box suggestions. However, when it come down to the personalities of your hens, they are literally going to lay their eggs where they please.

In general, if you provide a quiet clean side of your coop, protected from bright daylight sun, with nesting boxes slightly off of the chicken coop floor, your hens are naturally going to gravitate to a nesting box, and lay their eggs for you easily and effortlessly. Sometimes there is a favorite nesting box that your hens will prefer. Sometimes they will want to have a party, and all lay together in the same box. The point is with laying hens, just about anything is normal.

You might even have a hen that has a tendency to brood, a hen's natural way of incubating an egg by sitting on an egg(s) for days on end.  If  a hen has a healthy fertilized egg, and she sits on it faithfully for 21 days, she will hatch a chick. Hens can have brooding tendency  with or without a rooster in the flock, and without fertilized eggs. It is called natural maternal instinct.

Hens work for very hard to lay an egg. Give them the freedom to lay where they like. Please share if you have any funny egg-laying stories from your flock.

Surprise at Orange County Fair

Domaine de Manion Wine Label My husband, John and I had been encouraged to enter our wines in this year's 34th Orange County Fair 2010 Home Winemaker Competition. The Orange County Home Winemaker Competition is larger in number of participants and California geographical representation than the San Diego County Fair Home Winemaker Competition.

Last year's Orange County Fair Home Winemaker Competition had approximately 663 entries from all parts of California. California home winemakers represented in this year's competition were from such places as Healdsburg, Los Gatos, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Temecula, Templeton, Jamul, Olivenhain, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Napa, and many more.

At the Orange County Fair, awards are slightly different from that of San Diego County Fair's Home Winemaker Competition. Double-Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention awards are offered in each category of wine. One coveted "Best of Show" is given in each wine category.

We entered three of our home-made wines, our syrah (our first vintage from our backyard vineyard), a merlot (a wine we made from grapes we purchased from Dry Creek, Sonoma), and a "merrah" (a wine blend we made up of our own syrah and the merlot). We also entered our two new wine labels in the "wine label" contest. The wine labels were created by our friend and graphic artist Robin Dujanovic.

Our wines placed well and with similar results at the Orange County Fair, as in the  recent 2010  San Diego County Fair Home Winemaker Competition. The  surprising Orange County Fair 2010 results are as follows:

Bronze.....Merlot Syrah........Silver (Our First Vintage From Our Backyard Vineyard) Merrah.....Gold

Wine Glass & Chicken Label, 1st Place Garage Label, 3rd Place

"Le Vin de Garage" Forever Remembered

Our friend and graphic artist, Robin Dujanovic, rdujanovic@aol.com, at last year's harvest asked if she could design a few wine labels for us. We whole-heartedly thank her again for such unique and appealing wine labels which capture the essence and character of Domaine de Manion, "Which came first, the chickens or the vines?"  We know.

Once again, we wish to thank all of our family and friends for helping us throughout the year, and their enthusiasm in our backyard vineyard and wine making efforts. Salut!

Please share what you enjoy the most about your local summer fair?  The food? The rides? The animals? Entering your hobby? The art? The music?

A Chicken Coop To Love

Chicken Coop Entrance, LMR Rutherford Gardens As you may or may not know, VintageGardenGal announced its premier "Chicken Coop Photo Contest" last month. I had some wonderful photos submitted, and thank those who participated. The number of photos submitted, however,  were not enough for a true contest. Stay tuned for next year's spring chicken coop photo contest with prizes.

I do have a treat for you. I want to share with you a "chicken coop to love" that I saw in Napa Valley. In a previous post, I wrote about The Farmstead Restaurant and the Hall's Long Meadow Ranch. LMR Rutherford Gardens is another historic property owned by the Hall family and an integral part of their sustainable organic vertically integrated family farm. At LMR Rutherford Gardens they grow their own organic produce, flowers, and fruit for many of the top Napa Valley restaurants, including their Farmstead Restaurant, and the Friday Farmer's Market in St. Helena. Please note, LMR Rutherford Gardens is private, and available for tours by appointment.

LMR Rutherford Gardens is 5.8 acres of rich farm land on the Napa Valley floor, and just south of The Farmstead Restaurant. This property  has been growing produce since the 1930's, and has never been planted in grapes. Besides the land there is a small house, vintage water tower, and wonderful mature trees. Thriving 100 year-old fig trees further add to the property's charm.

At LMR Rutherford Gardens there is a large chicken coop and beautiful flock of chickens producing lovely organic eggs.  In the above photo, you can see the wood door and entrance to their chicken coop. The plank wood door is beautiful, detailed with a chicken motif, and flanked by the romantic floribunda white iceberg roses. Isn't that enough to welcome you to the chicken coop.

Side of Chicken Coop

Their chicken coop is made of corrugated metal, which is a reasonable building material, creates a wonderful rustic look, and ages gracefully. Framed windows on the side allow air circulation and the important ventilation needed in a chicken coop. Further more, the chicken coop is strategically situated under mature trees to provide shade and dappled light. I can only imagine inside, it is quiet, and filled with nesting boxes for the hens to lay their eggs.

A gigantic outside pen is attached to the chicken coop for their hens to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and produce treats. Landscaping along the chicken coop and outside pen adds color and appeal.

LMR Gardens Chickens in Outside Pen

LMR Rutherford Gardens has a large flock of hens consisting of Ameracanas, Black Australorps, and Cuckoo Marans chicken breeds. Three of my favorite breeds.

I was smitten by LMR Rutherford Gardens chicken coop and chickens. Their chicken coop is safe, protecting, nurturing, beautifully adorned, and well-landscaped. Clearly, some thought and creativity went into creating their chicken coop, and caring for their chickens for the best organic eggs.

Please share creative ideas you use for your chicken coop. Please comment on your favorite chicken breeds.

Chicken Coop Photo Contest

Outside Pen at Coop de Manion Announcing VintageGardenGal's premier "Chicken Coop Photo Contest." I hear from some many of you around the world regarding your chickens and coops, I'd like to see them! Spring has got to be the best time of year to show off your chicken coop, so I thought it would be fun to have a photo contest.

I believe that chicken coops are an extension of our garden. Are you concerned about where your food comes from?  Do you enjoy fresh food, steps away from your kitchen? Having backyard chickens is a fun step in a nice direction.

What kind of chicken coop do you have? Did you inherit it when you bought your present home and property? Is it designed out of flea market finds? Did you buy a chicken coop kit? Did your dad build it for you? Did you have an existing barn or shed on your property that you modified? How many chickens do you have?

How is it decorated? How does your chicken coop integrate with your garden or property? What is important to you about your chicken coop? What do you love about having chickens in your backyard?

Submit your winning chicken coop photo to bonnie@vintagegardengal.com within the month of May 2010. Along with your photo, send a brief explanation of what motivated you to have chickens, how you created your chicken coop, how your chicken coop ties in with your garden or property, any chicken coop details you would like to share, and generally where-in-the-world you are located. One winner and two runner-ups will be announced in June 2010. Their brief story and photos will be shared on VintageGardenGal.

VintageGardenGal will return next week.