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I heard about my guest today, when I was listening to Katie Krimitsos’ Business Women Rock Podcast and said omg I need to talk to this woman and get her to share her knowledge with my listeners! We are all going to learn a ton! Not only does she have 2 awesome books on chickens and ducks she is one of the most respected and knowledgeable people in the garden blogging world! She’s even taking a Master Gardener class as we speak! I know you are gonna be inspired when you hear her journey today!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in New England across the street from my grandparents chicken farm, they were chicken farmers by trade and they had a restaurant during world war 2 that’s how they supported the family. We had a casual backyard flock
went away to college, ended up working on wall street
fro a number of years.
long story short he was in the navy, his last tour was in VA at the Navy base, and we had horses, knowing he was gonna retire out of there…
We got some chickens, I started a little flock, which led to the Facebook page, and that led to the blog…I guess I knew a bit about them from between
I was doing things naturally, not too many things were, talking about antibiotics and chemicals and medications and that wasn’t what I wanted to do…I always made homemade body things and lotions and cleaning products and that and I’m not big on chemicals.
I started talking about something that was pretty unique and people started listening and you mentioned my two books
and I have a third book coming out in Dec which is actually about Gardening with Chickens!
I incorporated my love of chickens with a lifelong love of gardening and turned it into a career of thoughts!
I’m super curious about the gardening and chickens… because my husband and I kind of had a little dilemma last summer, after 10 years I talked him into building me some kind of gate so I could let the woods, and the weren’t supposed to get out into the garden part which is all fenced in, we only he 3 left, they can hop all of the fence, they are everywhere, the rooster sleeps in the tree….
Chickens are hugely destructive, the best way is to fence your chickens or your garens and they have to be high enough obviously that the chickens can’t flop over them, there other ways to protect the roots of your bushes and shrubs, your landscaping and maybe cage some of your plants till they’re more established. But Chickens are terribly destructive and it takes a lot of managing to garden with chickens, but during the growing season I just keep them penned up or make sure I’m out there when they’re out so I can keep them out of things…
My husband built this mini farm a few years ago, and they have not hopee into that but its odd because tis the same size fence….
use deer fencing or poultry netting, just to keep the chickens out whatever you really
they’ll find one garden they wont necessarily find another… if you plant where they tend to hangout
They totally remind em of that cartoon rooster red horn fog horn because eh totally marches them around the … we have a fence built off the edges of the proches on our house and they don’t go that way, no animal does, we have had a deer get in there once. They’re kind of funny the way the rooster just marches all around the perimeter of the gaden…
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
My grandparents chicken farm, it wasn’t like a Tyson or Perdue or anything giant, they just had a100 chickens or so in the barn. They sold commercially to restaurants and other people. It was in the country in Massachusetts, we always had a vegetable garden where they did plant. I do remember I had a pet rabbit growing up. One year, I
plant carrots fro my pet bunny
probably 2 feet square
harversted all the carrots for my rabbit. That was probably my first gardening experience.
My granddaughter is getting ducks she’s kind of like that she’s such an interesting high school students she’s into gardening and stuff!
How did you learn how to garden organically?
I think my grand-parents generations
pretty much did everything
there wasn’t home depot or Lowes or anything… my mom was a product of the 60s and 70s no
grew up in a house where chemicals weren’t the first thing you reach for, it made so much since for me… obviously you have but problems and the chickens were great
they eat all your bug eaten produce
they don’t care if your your tomato has some bugs in it
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Well, we just moved to Maine last august, so this is my first year growing zone 5, so I haven’t planted anything… as a rule of thumb here you don’t plant before Memorial Day, I did plant garlic when I first got here I planted in October, so I have 150 garlic cloves that will be ready next month! I love planting garlic. And coming to Maine in August that’s pretty much I could do before it started snowing,
In Virginia, I could plant pretty much all year round so in the fall I would plant
- brussel sprouts
and all that kind of stuff and be able to harvest it all winter. Here in Maine I will not be having a winter garden, nothing really under 4 feet of snow, but I’m gonna have short growing season I’m told!
Do you like the snow?
Yes I do.
well have a short growing season
one reason I held off taking the master garden class
I’m really glad I waited till we moved, because I knew we were gonna move and there’s lots of local gardeners so I get a lot of local knowledge. They say its’ such a short growing season but the days are so much longer here because of the longer attitude that things grow really really fast, so it’s entirely possible to grow things that grew in VA, and somewhat South, I mean you can’t grow citrus or avocados
Yeah! It’s already stays light here till 9 o’clock! Im always whining because I’m such a morning person I feel like they are stealing an hour of my morning light for the whole year till it’s November again and switches back… it’s true the days are way longer in a norther latitude more daylight….
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
It’s funny that we were in VA for so long, I got used to what worked and what didn’t/t
couldn’t grow rhubarb
got pretty good at va, I got pretty good and planted peas and things really early in Feb
by June it was gonna be so hot! I figured the garden was gonna be done
love growing herbs
pretty much sandy hot, growing
biggest problem is I lose interest in the maintenance
part way through the growing season, I just get so tired of it, I stop weeding, and I stop trimming everything.
Maintenance, is not my strong suit…
I tell listeners if it was up to me, everything would dry out and die, because I wil go days without going to the garden I planted that lettuce already this year and I haven’t gone down there and Mike keeps reminding me you have to water your lettuce and I just laugh?? Huh I have to do that everyday?
I like when it rains
once I get those out
it is really enjoyable
I stand there and water the garden, the thought of having to do it, is not enjoyable IDK why because it really is enjoyable to stand there and water it and take it in… But yeah
watering and weeding…
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.
I think the planning and going through the catalogs, and the websites, and picking out what I am going to grow!
Every years I grow a wide variety of herbs, like lavender and the mints, and thyme and oregano. Every year I like to add in the annuals like:
- basil – 4 different kinds
I’m like that I go to the nursery and find all these things and then I’m pretty soiled my husband gets the bed ready and will be like come down and bring your seeds and plant them and then pretty much takes care of it…
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
I think it was kind of indirect
it was a lesson
my father-in-law has a huge garden, and
winters in florida and summers in Maine
he would plant this large garden year after year, and all summer he would just complain
- the deer
- harvesting too much stuff
- too much to take care of
I was thinking why don’t he plant a smaller garden
- only plant what you need
- be reasonable how much your space goes
- you don’t need a ton of stuff for 2 people
one year I planted cherry tomatoes, they all turn ripe the same day, and then there’s so much pressure to eat them all at once, then you have to eat them
a regular tomato plant
cherry tomatoes stress me out way too much!
I’m totally the opposite I like cherry tomatoes because the others don’t get ripe… That’s funny one of my questions I cut out, was what do you do about harvesting, I would always have this huge abundance of one thing, no matter what I would take it to work and try to give it away… I like that advice to grow what you want to eat… Megan Cain says that all the time, start with our grocery list, that’s why I planted a lettuce garden this year because that’s what I eat the most…
that’s a good point
grow what you eat
if your family doens’ eat eggs! I don’t plant eggplant.
so many people don’t do that!
Another good piece of advice is plant staggered!
plant 2 more
plant 2 more
I never remember…
The other thing I think you’re gonna find, is that staggering doesn’t work enough because we can get our first frost by the end of August, and
You’re talking more a 7 or 8 even 9 zones. Such a longer season.
iWere 4B where you are I think 4B/5… I don’t really know what that means, I found out we’re 4B , and someone had a magazine called 4B for gadening in the rocky mountains down by Bozeman….
and then last year, I still tried to stagger my sunflowers and they still seemd to bloom all at the same time, Lisa told me last year in episode 80, I thought planting 750 was gonna be a lot and she made me realize I need to plant like 750 every week for like 6 weeks!
Lisa Ziegler lived about a half hour from in Virginia! I met her at the Mother Earth News Fair a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to get down to her cut flower farm but I never did … she’s got a much longer growing season …
You never know we applied for the NRCS high tunnel program where they give you 75% after you get approved and put them up and then I was talking to someone who said she put perennials in a quarter of one and have some stuff that was gonna come back automatically, lemon Sorel?
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
Actually not, I’m not a big glove wearer, I tend to use my hands more then I should, I’ve given up on manicures, I haven’t had one in like 10 years! I like digging with my hands, as much as I can just using my hands
the one thing that I did leave behind, is I have one of those little plastic
that I couldn’t live without…
it’s like a dump cart, it’s like a wagon and you can unclip, it’s like a
I left mine in VA
just for hauling, anything
- bags of peat moss
- stones to use
- the little paver
whatever, even if your weeding, and the just wheel it backI like to toss the weeds with that and then just dump the weeds.
it’s indispensable! It makes gardening so much easier, you’re not hauling stuff, your just pulling it with this little cart!
- hauling rocks
I thought I could make a shovel, with cardboard or a stick, I could especially in Mike’s deep beds where the dirts already soft. I’m picturing this little green bucket…
My old one is green, my new one is black. I actually like it better then a wheelbarrow because it’s lower to the ground, so if you’re sitting on the ground it’s easier to toss stuff into it. and you can pull it with one hand, a wheelbarrow you need 2 hands.
But this one you just need one hand for the handle, so you can carry stuff in your other hand. I don’t know what’ it’s called but I got one at tractor supply just a little garden cart, that’s like my go to garden tool!
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
OK, so my favorite recipe
- fresh basil,
- mozzarella cheeses
- really good olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
slice it all up arrange it on a plate, one of my all time favorites and I could eat it all summer long!
I love that, my mom makes that a lot, she’s in NY so she gets the fresh mozzarella balls and always have fresh basil.
A favorite internet resource?
My Fresh Eggs Daily® blog
That would definitely be my Fresh Eggs Daily® blog!
if you are not already using your local extension or state extension resource, they have handbooks and online guides
- on everything
- pest control
- how to raise chickens
- how to identify local bugs
so full of info relevant to your area. So the extension service website is my go-to website because unlike googling things where you get like a million answers and you don’t know what’s right? On the Extension and University sites you know the info is good, you don’t have to worry about double checking it. If it’s there you know it’s been fact checked and professionals. I highly recommend bookmarking your local extension site!
OK, but will you tell people about your blog?
- culinary herbs
- vegetable gardening
i do focus on culinary herbs, lots of vegetable gardening tips, lots of how its related on chickens, but lots of stand-alone gardening, i do share some
- either that use eggs
- produce or
cause that’s what I have the most of to cook with. It’s kind of garden or chicken centric
I just try to have fun with it! I try to update it twice a week…let my readers know what I’m up to and doing!
Do you want to talk about your journey as a blogger at all because one of the things that totally hit me when I heard you on Katie because was that for the frist 2 years you made like 40¢ an hour that really resonated with me, because I feel a lot of pressure from people who are like do you make money doing and why do ou spend all that time on it… and you started out on Facebook right? And don’t you have some incredible amount of likes on Facebook like 65k or something?
I have like 665,000! So well over 1/2 million people!!! So I think that the the message that I had with the natural chicken keeping and don’t reach for the chemicals and they’re are other ways to do this and I just had a woman email me a question today and she said some of the other vets and other experts and they were disagreeing with something I say on my blog about how I reais my chickens and she said but you know I know you tell us what you do personally and I see pictures of your chickens every day and they look so healthy and they’re happy and they’re not dying and they look so good!!
If you go to a vets website, you are not seeing the chickens of the person who is giving you advice, so they know me and they know my chickens and so I started the blog to basically to archive the information so when they ask me questions I would just refer them to the blog. I didn’t start it to make money, I didn’t expect it to be a career, you can get companies to advertise with you and I said that’s good!
Im doing this as a kind a hobby, but it would be good to make money, I’m a capitalist and if I can make some money I will… and I would like to make some money! It started toing it and it eventually evolved into a 40 hour a 60 hour a week workweek and I wake up, I do all day till I go to sleep, but I enjoy it! A lot of times we’ll be sitting watching tv and I’ll be editing pictures for a blog post. I mean do I consider that work? IDK… it’s better then sitting in a cubicle, it’s easy to get caught up in it and not do anything else so I have to make a conscious effort to step away from the computer. It does
I usually force myself to take ab break when my battery runs out… that’s when I have to take a break and at least walk to the end of the property and back…so it can charge a little …
When I’m taking care of chickens, down in the gardens I take pictures of it and I throw a picture of it up on Instagram, it’s just part of your life, you know
i don’t consider it work but it does take time, you can’t just start a blog, and be able to retire wealthy, it’s definitely a full time job… it doesn’t become
I spend less time blogging now then doing all the other admin stuff really… there’s a point where it does translate over to I make a little extra spending money and my husband can retire and we can rely on my income and could rely on my income to pay our mortgage… a lot of bloggers don’t reach that level but it’s certainly possible
I started my blog 2012, hasn’t been that long…I made $16 my first month as an amazon associate! I made $16!!! I was like whooo hoo!
Now I basically pay my mortgage with that amazon affiliate account, it snowballs, once you get followers and once they start clicking and they tell their friends it just kind of becomes a snowball effect. At some point you can’t even stop it! My Facebook page is so big now, I can’t begin to like all the comments or respond to all of the pictures. It’s just become kind of this monster!! It is what it is!
Do you want to say anything? Any tips I could give my grand-daughter about her ducks she’s getting!
- hatching eggs
- raising baby chicks
- feed and treats
really organized you can see all the organic
chickens and for ducks
there are about
really great resource
if they have a question about whatever
my books too, fresh eggs daily,
they’re not really beginner guides
everything they do with my flock
different twist then you would find in a traditional chicken keeping book really.
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
Since we got our chickens in 2009 I think I read just about every chicken book in the market, even now every time a book come out, because I want to se if someone’s doing something differently…
it seems like, all the books or backyard poultry was the same info year after year, season after season, not really doing a lot of preventive care, if you see this chicken’s get sick, you put them on this antibiotic nothing really natural just very rote.
Now I see more magazine articles about
- building strong immune systems
- trying to keep your chickens healthy
So that’s exciting!!!
As for one specific ? IDK there’s so many resources
I love magazines you know they are seasonal. If you subscribe you know in the spring it will be about reasiing chicks and in the summer your gonna have articles about keeping them cool in the summer! MAgazines are sometimes better then the books becasue they’re very relevant and your not overwhelmed with a book and you can take in little pieces as your chickens as they get to that stage so it’s very relevant!
I was just talking to this woman yesterday, I met through my Podcasting group and she lives in Wisconsin, but she lived here 6 miles from me and worked for the USFS in Fortine and she worked for this woman Pam Gerwe who I interviewed in episode 118 at Purple Frog Gardens who raised bunches of chickens and made her own feed… she ordered the sea kelp so do you do that?
We only have around a dozen, we’ve had as many as 3 dozen, but that’s kind of a lot, I couldn’t remember their names and we were overwhelmed in eggs! Im more comfortable with about a dozen is about a good size for a flock!
you can buy the grain
it takes a lot of research to get that recipe right, I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have a place to source it, and you have to be really careful with the chicken feed. It does need to be nutritionally balanced and have all the nutrients that they need.
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Well, actually since moving to Maine, hunger is a huge issue in Maine, meanwhile Maine is so rural…people have so much land, everything is so spread out and I just can’t understand why people are unable to feed their families when they have all this land? I mean
- they could be growing vegetables
- they could be raising herds of cows
I think it’s all about education! If you’re out of work, maybe if your out of work, if both parents are out of work.
- you have time to garden
- have time to raise the chickens
so showing popel it’s not that difficult it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and they can feed their families pretty cheaply and a little more healthy. I want to get involved, whether it’s through the master gardener program or not, but especially with lower income people
you learn how to can,
you can really feed your family year round and as you know seeds cost practically nothing so it’s a great affordable way to feed your
Plus as we were talking about in the beginning farmland is not able to be irrigated, so it takes pressure off the commercial farmers, so I think nationally it could help. It could start in someon’s backyard and fan out from there…
A loto f people have been taking about saving seeds, and as they get acclimated you’re saving even more money! I’m so glad you’re there and helping people realize that!
I think it also gives people a sense of satisfaction
if you are on food stamps, you’re self esteem is maybe not the est its ever been, if you if you start plunging your garden,
and pride that might otherwise
you’re pat on the back from your boss you might not be getting that anymore
it’s not exactly the same, but it might be more…
I’ve heard theres a pretty big movement of gardeners in Maine! Is there a lot of land averrable there?
there’s a lot land that’s pretty cheap! So a young couple that wants to get started is affordable! IT’s really becoming the place for people to come, but as long as it doesn’t a crowded… because then we’d have to move again!
i was just talking the other day about how it’s good how hard ti is to make a living here because otherwise it would be overpopulated and loose the charm of this place… I mean I like people but I always thought we’d live in the middle of a 100 acres, now we have 20 which I love and it’s beautiful but I have a road right by my house that I didn’t have when I moved here and it’s little bit different…
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
That’s all it is even if you just plant a container of tomatoes on your back patio this year, that’s all it takes to get hooked
just do something on the window sill of your kitchen… it really doesn’t matter, just start panting stuff, it really is more addictive!
I agree, I have already planted more this spring then I usually do, oh that’s what I was gonna say, usually I have my sunflowers planted on earth day but I don’t , I planted some herbs, some chives, and
I like chives, I just found a clump of them I want to make some devil eggs, I’m gonna use the chives to make devil eggs…
I don’t eat my chives, but the bees love them and they last a long time, we do have a pretty dry climate. Like right now it’s supposed to be most and wet and it’s not it’s dry as can be?!!! What’s it gonna be like in August?!!
How do we connect with you?
if you have any interest in raising chickens check out my Fresh Eggs Daily® blog!
And next time you got Barnes and Noble or amazon look for fresh eggs daily
I have a new book coming out in December which is gonna be really exciting where I gardening with chickens
where I share a lot of tips on gardening
- with landscaping
there are some precautions you have to take before you let them wander all over!
My Fresh Eggs Daily® blog!
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