Keep Coops Ventilated – Especially in Cold Weather!

Ventilate Your Coop (Especially In Winter) via Better Hens and Gardens

Every year, as the weather turns cold, my husband starts closing down the windows of the chicken coop.  He means well, but every year I explain why it’s very important to keep the chicken coop well ventilated, and why it’s even more important in cold weather (notice the windows are wide open - front and back).   Chickens generate a lot of moisture, ammonia, and heat – so it’s absolutely critical to ventilate well to remove … [Continue reading]

First Snow of 2014

First 2014 Snow Garden and Hives via Better Hens and Gardens

This is what we woke up  to in Northeastern Ohio today, isn't it lovely? I'm not actually fond of snow, but have to admit that it can be pretty.  This photo looks down into the valley where we keep the bees, garden, and where hay is grown.   The chickens don't seem to be any worse for the snow, they always take the cold weather well.   Looks like the driveway could use a bit of … [Continue reading]

Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup

Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup via Better Hens and Gardens

We have some nice cabbage coming out of the garden again this year, and one of our favorite uses for the cabbage is this soup. We've made it for years now, and I make it steadily as the cabbage ripens during the late summer/fall and freeze it. With some warm bread, it makes a comforting and hearty dinner for those cold winter months ahead.  It's a great way to use up the cabbage harvest, and make easy … [Continue reading]

Long Term (Winter) Vegetable Storage

How to Store Vegetables for Winter via Better Hens and Gardens

It’s that time of year when the excess vegetables from the garden need to be stored before frost destroys them.  The good news is, many of these vegetables can successfully be stored for months in the right storage conditions.  Even without a garden, buying quantities of these vegetables while they’re fresh and “in season” and storing them for later winter use can make sense.  Both of these approaches provide fresh … [Continue reading]

2015 Nigerian Dwarf Kidding Schedule Execution!

Old Mountain Farm Field Mouse (aka Mighty)

It's that time of year again - time to breed the does so that they have kids in late winter/early spring. I like our does to be bred so that they all kid in the same week, that way we can just concentrate on them and provide the best care we know how. So far this has worked well for us, and the kids and dams have been very healthy. Late March/early April also seem to work well because it's too early for coccidia … [Continue reading]

Doubly Hot Horseradish Mustard

Doubly Hot Mustard via Better Hens and Gardens

We’ve been making this mustard for years; and when the current batch is gone, it’s not long before someone’s whipping up another one – it’s that terrific and that easy.   Supermarket varieties seem insipid and expensive compared to this.  It also makes a great gift for friends and family; everyone seems to love receiving it.       … [Continue reading]

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract via Better Hens and Gardens

It's easy to make your own vanilla extract rather than buying the expensive little bottles of (often fake) extract at the store.  All it takes are a few vanilla beans, a tall bottle, and some vodka.  Once it’s made, you can keep the recipe going for years by adding more vodka and vanilla beans; and, you get an extra “ingredient” – the vanilla beans.  Just slice open the bean and scrape out all the seeds, they add wonderful … [Continue reading]

Spend Your $’s On These Organics – The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen Collage via Better Hens and Gardens

When I think about “real” food, I mean food that doesn’t contain artificial ingredients, hasn’t been fed antibiotics or growth hormones, wasn’t genetically modified, isn’t covered with pesticides, and most importantly, tastes great. It can be hard to find “real” food today, and the pesticides used on much of the produce in grocery stores contributes to the problem. There is a growing consensus that small doses of pesticides can adversely … [Continue reading]

Preparing the Goat Does for Breeding (2014)

Preparing Goat Does for Breeding via Better Hens and Gardens

Ultimately, the reason most folks have dairy goats is because they want the milk; and for this the does need to be bred and have kids.  Standard size does can generally be bred after they reach 80 lbs. or seven months of age; but breeders often wait until does are older for miniature breeds like Nigerian Dwarves.  In our case, we’ve been waiting until the does are 1 ½ years old; both because we wanted springtime kids and want … [Continue reading]

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup via Better Hens and Gardens

The butternut squash always seems to do well in the garden, and rewards us with lots of squash in the fall.  This recipe is a great one for using the squash, and although my husband says he doesn't like butternut squash, he likes this. I think it's the curry powder that makes it such a great soup.  The ingredient list is very short and it's super easy to make, but the flavor is outstanding.  And since butternut … [Continue reading]