Advice needed: toddlers and backyard chicken poop

Looking for some advice!

Background: We got our chickens in 2014 as a college graduation gift when my husband and some of our friends helped turn our existing potting shed into a coop with an attached run.  Since getting our girls, we have kept the run door open day and night allowing them to free range as they please, with the exception of freezing conditions and anytime snow covers the ground (aka when they’re moving targets for hawks).  For the most part, the girls stay inside the fenced backyard.  We don’t mind having chicken poop all over outside because we keep special shoes in the mudroom to wear out in our backyard.

Dilemma: We had our son in November of 2015 and he has learned to walk really well over the pas few months.  We know this summer we’d like to spend a lot of time in our fenced backyard, but I really don’t want him exposed to chicken poop around the yard.  I don’t want him falling in it, or sitting in it, etc.  So, if you have kids or advice, I ask you, what do you do?

We are considering extending the run and keeping the door closed so that they’re always contained and we won’t need to worry about chicken poop throughout our yard.  And while I know they will have plenty of room in the run, I don’t like to idea of them not being free-range anymore.


Backyard Chicken Roundup 12/23/2016 (news)


Is there interest in a regular Roundup of backyard chicken related news?  I’ll try this out for now and potentially keep it going indefinitely depending on interest.

Florida Times-Union; Florida (12/02/2016): Atlantic Beach takes first step towards backyard hen program.

Columbus Dispatch; Ohio (12/03/2016): Backyard chickens spur debate in central Ohio communities.

Fox 59; Indiana (12/06/2016): Anderson halts backyard chicken proposal after ’emotional’ debate arises.

Belmond Independent; Iowa (12/07/2016): City to consider backyard chickens.

Press-Enterprise; California (12/07/2016): Murrieta council approves new rules for backyard chickens.

ThisWeek; Ohio (12/08/2016): Gahanna Planning Commission: No backyard coops.

Bangor Daily News; Maine (12/12/2016): Backyard chickens: Healthy treats for the winter months.

Valley News; California (12/14/2016): Murrieta goes to the birds with approval of backyard chicken ordinance.

KyForward; Kentucky (12/15/2016): Stay Healthy: Avoid Salmonella by following these tips for handling Backyard Chickens.; Michigan (12/16/2016): Ypsilanti Township proposes loosening rules on backyard chickens.

Press-Enterprise; California (12/17/2016): Backyard chicken fans in Murrieta have something to cluck about.

Galesburg Register-Mail; Illinois (12/18/2016): Backyard chickens trending in town.

Cowichan Valley Citizen; BC Canada (12/19/2016): Backyard chickens approved for Cobble Hill Village.

Farm Forum; Minnesota (12/21/2016): Schoolyard chicken movement gets a boost from Purina.

Frederick News-Post; Maryland (12/23/2016):  Four Frederick backyard chicken permits approved; birds expected in spring.

Cobwebs in the Coop

We got our first chickens in May of 2014, and when winter finally came around, our coop was still looking very tidy.  In order to get it ready for winter, we only needed to remove the old bedding and add new bedding.  Last winter, 2015, we were busy planning for the arrival of our first child – so while the coop would have benefited from a deep clean, it just didn’t make our exclusive list.  With winter approaching yet again, this year we MUST do something about the massive amount of cobwebs in the coop!  Walking into the coop gives me flashbacks of that scary owl in The Secret of Nimh.  While they don’t seem to bother the chickens one bit, I am thoroughly embarrassed of them when company want to pay a visit to our hens.  I found this great blog post about dealing with coop cobwebs at the HenCam: A Thorough Coop Cleaning.  I hadn’t thought of taking a shop-vac to them, but that makes the most sense!  So, on my to-do list, to complete sometime before the New Year (weather permitting), I plan to A) remove any trash from “our side” of the coop; B) rid coop of all cobwebs with the shop-vac; C) remove old bedding; D) sweep out “our side” of the coop; E) wash windows; F) provide fresh bedding; and G) keep some hay on hand for snowy days!  Wish me luck!

(I’ll update this post later to include before pictures.)

Mother Clarke


Mother Clarke with a patient at the National Naval Medical Center.

My husband and I have been looking for ways to give back this year to set an example for our son, Atticus, and we’re hoping others will join us by donating or sharing!  Atticus’ great-great-grandmother, Ambrosia “Mother” Clarke (1895-1987), spent the majority of her life soliciting donations for sick and wounded soldiers at the National Naval Medical Center, now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda (WRNMMCB).  In her lifetime, she donated massive amounts of socks and toiletries, donated a total of 51 pints of blood, received letters and cards from seven Presidents, received a medal from the Pope, and sat for dozens of newspaper and television interviews – did I mention she birthed 24 children?!  The soldiers she visited and showered with gifts came to know her as Mother Clarke, and we would like to continue her mission (on a much smaller scale!) and donate to the Nation’s Wounded, Ill, and Injured Warriors recovering at WRNMMCB.  We will be collecting monetary donations through You Caring and hope you will donate and/or share so we can make a sizable donation in honor of Mother Clarke.

Click here to donate to Wounded, Ill, and Injured Warriors recovering at WRNMMCB in honor of Mother Clarke. 

One book Rory


In an earlier post I had predicted eight books that Rory Gilmore may be reading in the new season of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.  I watched all four episodes this past weekend with a pen and notepad in hand hoping to catch all of the new books she would be reading, but she only read in one scene!

At the very beginning of “Summer” Rory is poolside with Lorelei and both are reading.  Lorelei is clearly reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trial (a book I had predicted for Rory – and a book that had a major role in the new series), and Rory is reading a thick book whose title is unclear.  Bustle reports that she’s reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, but she has already read that book.  Could she be reading it again due to its scandalous plot?  Did the writers forget she had already read it?  Or did Bustle misidentify the cover?  I’m just not convinced…what do you think?

Another book I predicted Rory would be reading was Marie Konde’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but Emily Gilmore ends up reading this one and purging her home of belongings that no longer make her happy.

This post is being updated.



Months ago I blogged about signing up for the Chicken Behaviour and Welfare MOOC via Coursera and committed to writing a weekly blog entry on what was covered in the course.  However, life got in the way, and I didn’t complete the course as scheduled.  Fast forward to yesterday: the class had recently started a new session and I was able to pick up where I left off and complete the course!  I now have a certificate in Chicken Behaviour and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh!  The portion of the class that I had yet to complete covered transportation and humane end-points; which weren’t necessarily things I am interested in as a vegetarian!  Overall, I thought this course was very helpful in understanding chicken behavior, though the welfare portion tended to focus more on regulations in the UK.  I would recommend it for anyone with a small backyard flock or poultry operation, and especially to those who live in the UK.

Rory Gilmore’s Book List – NEW MATERIAL!


Rory Gilmore book clubs and reading challenges rejoice!  New material is coming NEXT WEEK!

A recent Instagram post from the Gilmore Girls (official) featured a sparse bookshelf, which is assumed to be Rory’s.  On it are five books she had read throughout the existing seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, a very sentimental box of cornstarch (Team Dean?), and a “Netflix” book – an obvious nod to the shows newfound home.  As an avid reader, a serious student, and an introvert, I always felt attached to Rory’s character.  I felt like I understood her, and was often inspired by her character to work harder and be kinder.  I was also eager to see what she would read next, and have made numerous personal book selections based off of what she was reading!  And so, I know Gilmore Girl fans and book lovers everywhere are not only anxiously waiting to see Rory as an adult, but are also ready to add to their Rory Gilmore bookshelf!

As the new season nears, I can’t be the only fan wondering what Rory will be reading in the new episodes?  And more importantly, how will her current life will shape her book selections?  Will she be a seasoned journalist interested in politics?  Will she be planning a wedding?  For herself or for her mother, Lorelei?  Will she be pregnant?  We all saw the Instagram post featuring the Gilmore staple, Pop Tarts and coffee, alongside a shiny red apple, something Lorelei craved when pregnant.  Will she be mourning the loss of her grandfather and turning to books for coping advice?  And will she have any time in busy adulthood to simply escape into a classic?

In the shows seven seasons past, Rory read 339 books!  There were 153 episodes in total, which means that Rory averaged over two books per episode!  Are you all as impressed as I am?  With four new episodes airing Black Friday on Netflix, I have decided to create a reading list for Rory based off of storyline speculations.  I have chosen a total of eight books (two per episode) that I think Rory may be seen reading in the new season.

one1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Adulting is hard, and busy, and messy.  As someone who likes to keep her life neatly organized, there is no doubt Rory will find useful tips in Marie Kondo’s bestselling book.

two2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Because she’ll need to eat more than apples if she is pregnant, and she’ll want to read exactly what is recommended, Rory will likely pick up this essential pregnancy book, currently in its fifth edition.

three3. The Girl on the Train: Booklovers devour bestsellers, especially when there is promise of a movie!  If Rory has any free time to read the latest “it” book, she’ll certainly pick up this British psychological thriller by Paula Hawkins.  Plus, if she is spending any time in London, she’ll enjoy the books setting.

four4. Go Set a Watchman: Anyone who read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird found interest in the buzz around her posthumous novel featuring the same characters but grown up.  Who wouldn’t want to catch up with characters they fell in love with?  It is kind of like catching back up with the Gilmores seven years later…

five5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: This nonfiction book by Rebecca Skloot makes reading about science the most enjoyable thing you can imagine – plus, Oprah backs it!  Surely, Rory will be picking this up to learn about ethical medical research with regards to race relations in America.

six6. When Things Fall Apart: Dealing with the death of her grandfather, Pema Chödrön’s book will offer Rory a chance to retreat to her room and take in some calm and soothing Buddhist wisdom.

7. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail: Author Cheryl Strayed can teach Rory a thing or two about finding yourself again after losing it all – after all, she hiked more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, by herself.  She ended her hike a stronger, braver, and healthier individual.  Though, Rory doesn’t seem like the type to drop everything and backpack (unless it’s across Europe!).

eight8. Persuasion: Last but not least – Persuasion. Rory has already read four of Jane Austen’s six novels, so it is time she tackle another.  Persuasion is a novel of misunderstandings in love and having a second chance later in life with the one that got away (Dean? Jess? Logan? Hmm…).  It is also Jane Austen’s final novel, making it fitting classic to be read during the final season of Gilmore Girls.

What books would you add to this list for Rory?  Leave them in the comments!