Tag Archives: farm

Recommended Reading for Chicken Keepers

It’s the perfect time of year to start reading about projects you’re going to tackle next year. If you’re planning on adding a flock of chickens, this is the right time to start reading up on how to care for your feathered friends. A friend asked for recommendations of chicken books, so I compiled a list of five of my favorites. Do you have other favorite chicken books? Leave a note in the comments.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow

This is a solid reference book for chicken keepers. It’s comprehensive and the information is clear and helpful. The writing is straightforward, like talking to a rural veterinarian, although some might describe it as dry or clinical. Still, when you need a reference book for chickens, you don’t need a lot of romantic stories about sweet peeping baby chicks. This book is the authority on everything from coop design to maintaining the health of your flock.

A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping by Robert & Hannah Litt

This book is by the people behind Portland’s Urban Farm Store. It is a great addition to the genre of chick(en) lit. The focus here is on the backyard chicken keeper, especially in cities, but the information applies to any small flock. This book provides a sort of quiet confidence (or maybe just competency), which made me feel better about our backyard flock in the early days. I’ve read a lot of chicken books in the last three years, and mostly I finished them feeling a little overwhelmed like, “Well, I guess I’ll mostly learn by doing.” After this book, I just felt excited.

Keeping Chickens by Ashley English

Keeping Chickens is part of Ashley English’s Homemade Living series. There are a lot of beautiful photos and illustrations in this book. This is like having a cool, knowledgable friend to walk you through the process – selecting a breed and acquiring your chicks, all the way through delicious egg recipes. There are some woodworking instructions, too, to help you build a nesting box and basic chicken tractor. Ashley also writes a great blog where you can follow her homemade adventures.

Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich

This is a favorite in my household. From the early days of puffball chicks, you can watch Jenna’s chicks grow through their first year. Along the way, there is information about food, housing, health, and other details beginners need to know. Since the information is presented in an accessible way with lots of photos, it’s great for younger chicken farmers in your flock, but it’s not only for kids. This is a useful book for grown-ups, too. Jenna’s also a blogger; you can keep track of her farm happenings here.

The Chicken Health Handbook also by Gail Damerow

Many city vets don’t care for livestock, so it’s important that chicken farmers are able to care for their own birds. This book has a lot of good information, including charts where you can look up symptoms to diagnose your bird. There’s detailed nutrition information, preventative advice, and way more than you ever knew you didn’t know about poultry health. We’ve been pretty fortunate with our birds so far, but we have a responsibility to be prepared. They’re dependent on us.

So, those are my favorites. I hope it helps if you’re planning on getting a flock next year. Raising chickens has been an extraordinary adventure for us. I love those silly birds.


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Filed under chickens, urban farming

our fall tradition: the local cider mill

Every October we head over to nearby Lattin’s Country Cider Mill. There’s a pumpkin patch, an apple slingshot, tractor-pulled wagon rides, and all the adorable farm animals you can handle. The real reason we go (and the teenager still comes with us): fresh from the fryer apple fritters.

This year and last we ended up going on the weekend, which means a lot of patience and determination are required. People for miles around know about these fritters. First you wait in a long, slow line to pay for the fritters. Then you get a number and have to wait with a crowd of people until yours are ready and your number is called. We figured out a couple years ago how to pass the time: apple cider slushies!

Apple cider goodness in slushy form. Genius.

Levi & Jess saved their appetites and got smalls. I went for the large. No regrets!

The other way to pass time while waiting for your fritters is to watch them being made. It is mesmerizing. They have them already prepped, and then lower entire trays directly into the fryer. Then they stay nearby with what look like giant chopsticks to flip them over when the first side is golden brown. Once they are pulled out they dump them off the tray and literally pour a pitcher of glaze over them.

The glaze melts before your eyes and the gleaming apple fritters are ready to go. Once we have our bag of fritters in hand, we make a beeline to the nearest spot to sit outside and eat them while they are still nice and warm.

Levi took the first bite and declared that not only were they worth the wait, they would be worth 10 times that wait. Then he did the math and we decided maybe they wouldn’t be worth that long a wait, but they most certainly were worth the 30 or 40 minutes we waited and then some.

Warm and gooey sweetness with bits of fresh apple. There is nothing quite like it.

I have no idea how Levi made himself this short but I appreciated it.

There is so much to see and do. I’m so glad we were able to fit this into our busy weekend. A few more highlights:


Filed under fall, family, traditions