Monday, November 7, 2011


A recent production scouting trip took us north to the Muenster, TX area. We were delighted to find wind turbines dotting the landscape. We even saw a turbine manufacturing site. It is encouraging to see our big Texas winds being put to good use. The use of alternative power is a hot topic that Down to Earth plans to explore on the show so stay tuned!

While in Muenster, we were fortunate to visit the lovely Elm Creek Manor, an inn and spa in the countryside just outside of town. They grow their own vegetables and herbs from which they create five star quality meals for guests. Meals are served in the elegant dining room of the main house, exquisitely decorated from the inkeepers' worldly travels. Dairy goats, chickens and bees will soon be taking up residence and contributing their own gifts to meals. Guest rooms are peaceful and relaxing. An oh so comfy bed is dressed in crisp white linens; the inn follows the European tradition of a fluffy down duvet without a top sheet.

We learned from proprietors Brad and Marcia that the original house had burned and was at first considered a total loss. After many bids to demolish the structure, they learned that many structural elements were still sound and were offered the opportunity to rebuild. The house today contains much of the original wood, showing the scars of the fire, but possesing unique character.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chickens! Chickens! Chickens!

Every year we look forward to the great State Fair of Texas! This year, Andrea hosted a talk and demonstration about urban chicken keeping. We brought along Wedgewood, the bantam blue Orpington to help us out.

There is much to learn about selecting and caring for your chickens, but they are a fun and low maintenance pet. In fact they are the only pet that can provide you with fresh ingredients for fluffy omeletes and yummy cakes and quiches. We have a wealth of information to share and have included some of it here. Check in with us often to find out when and where we will be appearing with our fun and informative presentation - Household Hens!

Why Choose Chickens?
They are fun, quiet and clean.
Enjoy fresh eggs without a trip to the store.
They bring a bit of the country to the city.
They produce the best garden fertilizer around.
Children can learn about farm life and caring for animals.
They are a natural component of sustainable living.

Things to know:
Look up codes and regulations on your city’s website.
Most municipalities do not allow roosters.
You do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs.
Be sure your chickens are safe from predators.
Keep the peace with your neighbors by offering them eggs and keeping a tidy roost.

Basic supplies include:
The coop
A run or outdoor area
Feeder and waterer
Chic chicken d├ęcor to suite your taste
Feed appropriate to your hens developmental stage
Kitchen scraps make a great supplemental feed.

You can get most everything you need for keeping chickens at your local feed or farm store. Here are a few we know of, check local listings where you live.

D&L Farm and Home in Aubrey, Celina, Denton, Gainesville and Sanger; and D&L AgMart in McKinney
Boyce Feed and Grain in Waxahachie
Southland Farm Store in Dallas
Southwest Feed Mills in Dallas
Roach Feed and Seed in Garland
Wells Brothers Farm Store in Plano
Collin County Feed and Seed in McKinney
McKinney Grain in McKinney
Master Made Feeds in Grapevine
Russell Feed and Supply in Fort Worth
Marshall Grain in Fort Worth

Some great books about chickens:
Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry by Leonard S. Mercia
Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces by Barbara Kilarski
Chickens: Tending A Small-Scale Flock For Pleasure And Profit by Sue Weaver
The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich
Pocketful of Poultry by Carol Ekarius
The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals edited by Gail Damerow
Chickens in children’s literature:
The Little Red Hen
Chicken Little / Henny Penny
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
Louise: the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo
Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golsom
Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Daisy Comes Home and Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett

Visit your local book seller or public library for these titles and more.

A new magazine just for chickens:
Chickens from Hobby Farms

A few of the many chicken websites available:

Check out some creative coops at these chicken coop tours, check local listings to find out if there is one in your area.
Funky Chicken Coop Tour in Austin in April
Wise Chicks Coop Tour in Decatur in April
West Side Urban Farm Frolic in Dallas in April
A Peep at the Coops in Dallas in May
Oak Cliff Coop Snoop in Oak Cliff in October

Big thanks to the following for their support and helpful information:

D&L Farm and Home in Aubrey, Celina, Denton, Gainesville and Sanger; and D&L AgMart in McKinney.

The Boyce Feed & Grain Corp. in Waxahachie, TX
(972) 937-1541

Mobile Chicken Coops in Burnet, Texas

Green Garden Goodies


Catch up with our host Andrea Ridout Saturday mornings on DIG IN airing in the DFW area on FOX4 at 6:00 AM. This week Andrea will tell us all about some unique and useful green gardening products for fall. A complete list of all products as well as video of the segment can be found on the DIG IN DFW website.

While you are there, you can find out how to send in your favorite fall garden photo to win a set of Radius Garden tools. Remeber that there's also a set of tools up for grabs on the DOWN TO EARTH Facebook page once we get to 100 likes!