Author: Anna Hess

Turning a bucket chicken waterer into a feeder

Galvanized bucket chicken waterer

I dropped by my mother-in-law’s coop the other day and took a look inside. “What an interesting feeder,” I said. “Where did that come from?”

She explained that the feeder had actually started life as a waterer. But the lip broke off, which meant the gravity-feed contraption no longer worked as intended. So now she fills the bucket with pellets as a low-tech gravity feeder. A great example of Appalachian ingenuity!

A brief history of chickens

Prairie chicken pipe

This Native American ceremonial pipe from nearly two thousand years ago doesn’t represent a domesticated chicken — just a prairie chicken. But it got me thinking about how deeply intertwined our lives are with the lives of our animals.

Animal domestication timeline

Chickens were late to the domestication party, but they’ve since been represented widely in art and cutlure.

Chickens in culture

Want to learn more about chickens past and present? Check out the online exhibit the image above came from at

Managing spring grass

First green grass

Before livestock entered my life, I never paid attention to the first green grass. But now, even when we don’t have our own chickens or goats, those tender sprouts in late February make me smile. Sure enough, a visit to our neighbor’s house revealed her flock hungrily pecking up not just worms but also every bit of greenery they could get their beaks on.

Eggs for sale

Luckily for all of us, chickens aren’t like ruminants — they won’t eat so much spring grass that they make themselves sick. But they can easily overgraze the first flush so much that their pasture becomes spotty and rank for the rest of the year.

In a free-range setting like this one, there’s not much you can do to prevent overgrazing. And our neighbor doesn’t really need to — after all, her chickens are able to roam across several acres, so once one area runs out they’ll move on to another. But if you’ve got your flock more constrained in either tractors or a pasture, spring is the time to be plotting out your entire year’s rotation schedule so you still have green grass for the birds to enjoy in July and August.

Pasture Basics

Buy now


(epub file sideloaded through Bookfunnel)

I’ve plotted out years’ worth of pasturing wisdom in my ebook Pasture Basics, currently on sale for 25% off if you buy direct. Hopefully my tips will let your flock enjoy the spring flush…and the summer lull as well. Happy grazing!