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Good Food Festival this Saturday, March 18

Come out to the Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum this Saturday for a great time meeting folks who sell, grow, process, and raise good food and livestock.Register here.

Home to Roost will be participating in the Organic Valley Good Food Commons: Cultivate your curiosity and learn new skills at informal, 20-minute micro-workshops. Check out the full line-up of workshops, from vegan cheese making to urban beekeeping!

Here are some other reasons to attend the Festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Free Admission: Let’s start with the breaking news… for the first time, admission to the Good Food Festival is free! All you have to do is register. Donations will be welcome, of course, but in keeping with our motto of Good Food on Every Table, we want to make sure everyone with an interest in better eating can attend.
  • Chef Demos: As always, our Chefs at Play stage will feature some of Chicago’s biggest culinary stars. Already lined up are Rick Bayless of the Frontera restaurant group, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year; Rob Levitt, the award-winning head butcher at The Butcher & Larder at Local Foods; and Paul Haney of Hoosier Mama Pie Company. Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken are the co-recipients of FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Chef of the Year Award.
  • Food and Health: With the medical community taking bigger steps to integrate food and nutrition into their thinking on health care, we will present great panels on Good Food is Good Medicine and Mood and Food including Nationally recognized Health and Fitness Expert and Creator of SHRED POP, Dr. Ian Smith.
  • Urban Farm Bus Tour: For a ticket charge, you can go offsite and visit three new cutting-edge urban farms. This year’s tour will be led by Breanne Heath, certified organic farm owner, certified horticulturist, Edible Garden educator and garden manager.

Oak Parkers: Are you missing a chicken?

Are you missing a chicken?

MARCH 6: A mature Ameraucana hen showed up last night at a house last night close to Taylor and Washington. Hoping to get her reunited with her family.
Contact me, and I’ll put you in touch with the person who sent this info on to me. 

Chicken Participates in Democratic Process

It seems with all that’s going on in Washington, folks are wanting some answers from their elected officials – who are rather “chicken.” See this story on how one Michigan community tried to get the attention of their representative.

Chicken Patriotism

Even chickens are feeling love of country these days. Jokgu the Brahma hen plays “America the Beautiful” on the piano – no, really!

Converting Chickens to a New Diet

I’ve gotten several calls lately about chickens who aren’t eating their (new) food. Here’s what’s likely going on.

Birds are persnickety creatures, and any change to routine or environment can upset the applecart: construction noises may cause them to stop laying, a new object in the cage/coop may be avoided at all costs out of fear, it may take a while to get used to a new coop.

Diets are no different. If you switch from a crumble to a pelleted diet, for example, your birds may avoid the new food completely.

Chicken feed comes in several forms: mash (finely ground), crumble (looks like Grape Nuts), pellets (the name gives it away!), and a mix of grains with pellets, grit, etc. If you are changing to a different form of food, your birds may not recognize the new stuff as food.

Not to worry – here’s what to do. For the first week or two, mix 25% new feed and 75% old feed. Then switch to 50% new 50% old for a week or two, followed by 75% new, 25% old for a week or two. Finally, you should be able to feed them the new diet at 100%.

During this process, observe the chickens and check their crops to make sure they are eating the new food. Birds have been known to starve themselves during a diet change.


To refrigerate or not refrigerate, that is the question.

Did you ever wonder why Europeans and other cultures don’t refrigerate their eggs?

Long story short, if you wash your eggs after you collect them, they must be refrigerated. If you don’t wash the eggs, they can be kept at room temperature.

An egg shell is naturally porous to allow an exchange of gases during incubation. When a hen lays an egg, her body secretes a protective coating that prevents bacteria from entering through the pores of the shell and water and oxygen from leaving the egg. This coating is called the cuticle, or bloom. When you wash an egg, you remove the protective coating, you are opening the egg up to bacterial contamination, which can be prevented by refrigeration. Once you wash and refrigerate the egg, however, it must stay refrigerated to prevent contamination. In addition to protecting eggs from bacteria, refrigeration also prolongs shelf life.

If you want to keep your eggs at room temperature, collect them and simply brush off dried fecal matter or gently sand any that is stuck to the shell. If you choose to display them at room temperature in an pretty basket or spiral egg holder, such as this one. When you are ready to use an egg, wash it an proceed with cooking.

If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, check out this article or this one.

Happy New Year from Home to Roost! (and a note on rates)

Happy 2017, the year of the rooster! This will be Home to Roost’s eighth year in operation (ninth, if you count 2008, when I first put my business cards together and had my first client).

I enjoy every minute of caring for the chickens of Chicagoland, as well as developing chicken-keeping programs and providing educational opportunities for kids, adults, and seniors. Thank you for your trust in me and your willingness to welcome me into your homes (and coops).

My business manager and office staff are long overdue for a raise, however, and they’ve been threatening to walk out. In order to appease them*, Home to Roost’s hourly consulting rates will increase in 2017. (*This is, of course, tongue in cheek; there’s nobody here but us chickens… I mean, me.)

  • Non-emergency house call: $68/hour (1-hr minimum, billed in 1/4 hr increments thereafter). Mileage fee may apply.
  • Emergency house call: $80  (1-hr minimum, billed in 1/4 hr increments thereafter). Mileage fee may apply.
  • Phone consultation: $25 for 20 minutes
  • Classes/presentations/misc.: Call for pricing.

If you find that these rates will be a financial hardship, please let me know. We can try to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Thanks for making Home to Roost a successful microbusiness over the last 8 years. Enjoy some pictures from the last eight years below!