Monday, January 08, 2007

What's Growin' On: 1/8/07

Whitey Goes Green

Realization Of The Day:
My chickens are foodies.

Harvest For The Henhouse:
A breakfast of freshly picked (slightly less than perfect) arugula, parsley, two kinds of Swiss chard, and a few giant broccoli leaves from my one lonely plant, all from the greenhouse and all heirloom and organic, of course. No bounty goes to waste around here. And I love knowing that plenty of dark green leafy vegetables are making their way into our farm fresh eggs. Now if only Whitey would find the time to go back to laying them. . .

Beyond The Garden Gate:
Have you voted yet?
The Food Blog Awards, hosted by the Well Fed Network, are going on now, and everyone is invited to vote for their favorite blog in each category. Click here for the complete list of categories and nominees. I'm thrilled that my main blog, Farmgirl (which I consider In My Kitchen Garden to be a part of), is a finalist in the Best Food Blog--Rural category. Click here to check out my competition and cast your vote. The voting ends Tuesday January 9th at midnight EST. This is also a wonderful opportunity to discover some tasty new blogs.

Feel Like Shopping?
I've added several new items to my Farmgirl Fare Favorites Store at, as well as some new product categories, like Garden & Greenhouse Stuff and On My Bookshelf. Too cold to work in the garden? Why not curl up under a quilt with one of My Favorite Movies instead. Check back often, as my store is a work in progress. And since it's part of, you'll enjoy things like free Super Saver Shipping on thousands of items, totally secure ordering, easy returns, and of course great prices. If you'd like to read more customer reviews about any item in my store, simply highlight and paste the product name, click on Go To in the top right corner of the page, and paste the product name into the search box.

Right now you can Save $25 when you spend $125 or more on Kitchen & Housewares or Bed & Bath products offered by, including items purchased through my Farmgirl Fare Favorites Store. (A few products, such as All-Clad, do not qualify.) Just enter code CLEAROUT at checkout.

Coming Up:
It's seed ordering season!


  1. Since I've had an interest in maybe getting chickens once we get some land (depending on how much land we get), I did a little reading up on them last year.

    Interesting information was that chickens are on a 25-hour egg laying cycle, AND that they'll typically only lay eggs when it's light. Because the 25-hour thing begins to throw them out of synch with day light, AND because winter has much shorter days, it's expected that they'll stop laying eggs for awhile, and then get back to it once they're in-synch with daylight....

    Do you find this is the case? Is it something you can count on - even set a clock to? Always wondered if this stuff you read really holds true in the real life experiences with chickens.

    Keep eatin' your greens Whitey!

  2. Hi Jeph,
    Yes, egg laying is directly affected by the number of daylight hours and will generally taper off (or quit completely) in winter. (Various other things can affect laying patterns, too--weather, stress, etc.)

    What we do is hang a light in each henhouse that is on a timer. It comes on early in the morning and is set so that the chickens get about 14 hours of 'daylight' each day. The light hangs over the waterer, and in winter we change out the regular 40 watt bulb and replace it with a 250 watt heat lamb bulb. This helps keep the water in the waterer from freezing.

    Forcing the chickens to live with artificially long days is not, obviously, 100% in tune with nature, but we figure that if we have to be up and working that long each day, so should the hens. : )

    As an advocate of natural and organic farming methods, I don't have a problem doing this. I want my eggs, and I do not think it is harmful to the chickens. Example: we're down to just three chickens (will be ordering chicks in spring). Two are nearly 6 years old. While the average natural lifespan for a chicken is 5 to 7 years, they stop laying after 2 years. Commerical egg producers slaughter laying hens after their useful 2 years. I won't go into the inhumane living conditions most laying hens are subjected to, but instead show you what can happen if you treat your chickens right: these two six year olds stop laying every once in a while, but right now we are getting nearly an egg a day. I'm not sure if one or both are laying, but they've certainly beat the statistics.

    As for Whitey. . . well, she's about 7 years old. I suppose she's earned the right to stop laying--though I suspect the reason we haven't seen any of her itty bitty eggs (she's smaller than the other two) in months has more to do with her spending so much time hacking into my computer and leaving blog comments instead of sitting in a nesting box!

    Hope this helps. You're going to absolutely love having your own chickens. The only downside is that the compost piles really suffer--pretty much the only kitchen scraps mine get are eggshells, coffee grounds, and citrus peels. The chickens will eat everything else!

  3. P.S. We are also planning to build a "chicken tractor" this spring which will allow the hens access to fresh ground to dig and peck in each day. We can't let our chickens roam loose because of the dogs and other predators. Our coops have outdoor runs, though, so the chickens all get plenty of fresh air and sunshine and space to move around. But I'm looking forward to the chicken tractor--it'll serve double duty because we'll have the chickens "prepare" soil for my garden expansion. Much better (and easier) than tilling.

  4. I have a newbie question...
    What can I do that will prevent bunnies from eating my entire garden? This is the first year I'll plant vegetables since my vegetable-eating dog will pass away before spring, but I realized that even though he will be gone, the bunnies will still be my nemesis.

    Is there anything I can plant that will deter them?
    grumpywookie - at- gmail (dot) com

  5. Interesting info about switching out the lights, AND that your hens are still laying eggs after all these years. I honestly thought you were going to say "they stop laying eggs after two years - but we keep them around for the company!" Instead, due to a good healthy lifestyle and lots of TLC, yours are still going strong! :)

    Sounds like you've got quite a large set up, what with all the chicken runs, etc. And I've read about how wonderful chicken manure is for hopefully they're making up for what doesn't go into the compost pile by providing a little bit of their own!?

    Thanks for all the insight. I don't know when/if we'll ever get to have chickens (and a beehive too!), but hopefully some day!!!

  6. Great Blog. I have been reading it a while now.

    Your chickens and my chickens must be related. Today mine ate lettuce, kale, endive and arugula topped with black oil sunflower seeds! I also have a Light Brahma (along with 2 Black Silkies, 1 Barred Rock[who is my biggest pig], 2 Rhode Island Reds, 1 Americauna and 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte).

    They are looking so good right now. All their new feathers are in and Clementine (my Light Brahma) started laying again.

    I am going to attempt your Arugula pesto. The use of garbanzo beans is intriguing.

    Maureen in Oakland

  7. can chickens safely eat used coffe grounds?

  8. Hi anonymous,
    I don't think I would feed used coffee grounds to chickens--if they would even eat them. I can't see how they would have any nutritional value, and considering how small chickens are, that much caffeine might do them some harm. But used coffee grounds make great compost! : )


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

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I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

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