Opossum in the Chicken Coop

One night this week I was later than usual closing the chickens into their coop–they had already put themselves to bed on the little roost-branch in the corner.  When I shined my flashlight in the door, I jumped–I thought I was seeing the biggest rat on earth.  But I quickly …

Infographic: How To Build Our Backyard Chicken Coop

I am flattered that the author of a new chicken book called Henhouse has turned my humble coop-building instructions into this amazing infographic and posted it on Visual.ly. This is a slightly simplified version of our coop, with no “chicken Guantanamo” cage underneath, or aviary around it. But after many …

Deconstructing Dinner: An Interview at The Tangled Nest for a New TV Series

Last Saturday I was delighted to welcome the good folks from Deconstructing Dinner for an afternoon at The Tangled Nest.  Until a couple of years ago, Deconstructing Dinner was an internationally syndicated radio show covering food and the emerging food culture, with a focus on the relationship between our food …

A Cool Coop: Caring for Chickens in the Heat

It’s actually hot in Seattle!  Yes, I know that you folks in other parts of the country have had many 90+ days, but for us Pacific Northwesterners, it’s rare–our bodies aren’t used to it, and neither are our chickens!  I’ve noticed the girls are panting a little, and seeking shade.  …

How to Herd Your Chickens (or ducks)

Y’all may have seen these photos when they were in the news last month, but they have taken on practical significance for us lately. Our chickens get to roam free  all winter, but now that the garden in our little urban backyard farm is tender and tasty, they are supposed …

The Tangled Nest Urban Chicken Roundup

It’s urban chick season once again, and past Tangled Nest posts on chickens, coops, and chick-rearing are getting a lot of readers.  We thought we’d make things convenient by gathering our most salient “chicken wisdom” in one place. Here is advice gleaned from our twelve years of backyard chicken-keeping, taking …

Chickens Versus Snowpocalypse

Hi, Tom here… Lyanda’s away on a writing retreat so I am hijacking her blog for a few days. In Seattle it’s a snow day–we are having our annual “snowpocalypse,” when a few inches of snow completely shuts down the city and sends cars skidding into the curbs and children …

Return of the Prodigal Chicken: A Holiday Story

Most people ate turkey on Thanksgiving.  Us?  We came home from the holiday feast with a live chicken. Last May, our older chickens went into Urban Chicken Retirement at my Uncle Joe’s farm in Maple Valley.  We’ve taken our aging flocks there in the past, where they  nibble away their …

Autumn Scenes from an Urban Smallholding

I love the idea of a “smallholding.”  It’s a term still used in England, one I re-discovered while leafing through a favorite book the other day, The Freedom Manifesto by Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson (also love The Idler…).  A smallholding is a modest parcel of land, usually just one-family’s-worth, that …

Urban Chicken Retirement: What to do when older chickens stop laying?

We were a host once again this year for Seattle Tilth’s Chicken Coop and Urban Farm Tour, and one of the main questions would-be chicken keepers voiced was what to do with older chickens after they stop laying, or slow way down?  The numbers vary by breed and individual, but …