Herbal Roots

Herbs, herbs, glorious herbs!

image of oregano cutting in water

Oregano cutting with new roots

From luscious lavender to invigorating rosemary, herbs have been around since the beginning of time. Their uses are many, and can be preventative or restorative. I certainly have my favorites, like rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage… the list goes on. I cook and bake with them, and use them quite a bit with the chickens: in their coop, run, nesting boxes, and as part of their treats.

One of my ongoing projects is expanding my herb garden. One way I do this is to take cuttings from favorite herbs, stick them in water, and watch new roots grow. It’s that easy! I’ve had great success with rosemary and oregano, and plan to try it with a few other herbs.

The oregano you see in the photo was actually trampled by the chickens getting into the herb garden when I wasn’t looking (turn your back for a second… geesh!) So, I brought the larger pieces inside and put them in water. The smaller pieces went in the coop and nesting boxes. The main plant is still alive, so I guess it’s a win-win. 

Come spring, the new oregano will find a permanent home back in the herb garden—oregano overwinters well in this area. The rosemary will mostly be confined to pots, so I can take it inside for the winter.

Having herbs on my kitchen windowsill brings me extra joy in the dead of winter. Some of my indoor rosemary plants have bloomed in winter, even while still in the water! Ah, herbs, you bring me such happiness!

Homemade Flock Block

Even though my girls get to free range daily, they seem to sometimes get bored. That is, every time I approach them they rush towards me as if to say, “Oh my gosh, we have missed you sooo much—please entertain us!” Or, maybe they’re just saying, “Where ARE our treats, lady?!” Either way, I decided to try my hand at making my own Flock Block. I read a few recipes, but none really fit what I was looking for. So, I created my own, and it came out rather well.


I did initially make a hole in the block, thinking I would hang it, but I was afraid it would break. So, instead I hung the block in netting. And, I think the netting will help make it last longer.

I used ingredients I had readily available, so of course I added many herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, as well as rose petals and dried rose hips.


Homemade Flock Block Recipe:
(I use organic, non-GMO ingredients)

1 c Scratch
1/2 c Layer feed
1 c Black oil sunflower seeds
1 c Oats
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Cayenne pepper
1/2 t Garlic powder
3 T Flax seed
3 Small diced apples (no seeds)
Herbs, Rose petals & Rose hips

3 Eggs & crushed shells
1/2 c Molasses
4 T cocnut oil (warmed)
1/3 c Water (as needed)

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix well. You may need to get your hands messy to mix it well. It should somewhat stick together, but not be dripping wet. Add more water or dry ingredients to get right consistency. Spread in greased pan (I used a bread loaf pan) and pack it down.  Bake at 325˚F for 2 to 2.5 hours. Let it cool in the oven (for a few hours, or better yet, overnight).


I decided to put my flock block in netting and hang it. It works very well, and I think it helps make it last longer. Other ingredients I might try using next time include applesauce, sprouts, different herbs or flowers, and whatever I have on hand. So, give it a try. Use what you have, and give your girls some fun feeding time. Mine seem to really like it!


Braided Rosemary Bread Recipe

I’ve been wanting to make a rosemary bread for some time. And, I’ve wanted to use egg in a bread recipe for some time. This turned out to be the perfect combination. This bread tastes great with just butter on it, or as a side to over easy eggs, or for dipping in homemade red sauce on pasta. Mmmm!


I’ll admit I’m not one for following recipes exactly. That is, I like to “wing it” more often than not. I modified this from the rosemary breadsticks recipe in this month’s Mary Janes Farm magazine. I used organic ingredients whenever possible and I used local (Hatcher’s Pass) honey.

Here is the reicipe I used:

1 c warm water
3 T melted butter
1/2-1 t honey
1 T active dry yeast
2-3 c white flour
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
sprinkling of salt
1 farm fresh egg
sprinkling of course salt

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, butter, honey and yeast. Let it sit. In a larger bowl, mix together 2 c flour, rosemary and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and mix well. Add more flour until the dough chases the spoon around the bowl.

Turn out on a floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed (I used whole wheat flour here). Form dough into ball and place in a lightly buttered bowl. Turn ball of dough over (so butter is on top of dough). Cover with plastic and set in a warm place for 45 min to let dough rise.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Turn dough out on floured surface, knead, then separate into six balls of dough. Roll each ball into a long piece of rope. Take three “ropes” and attach at one end, then braid, and pinch end under. Do same with remaining three ropes.

Whisk egg. Lightly brush egg on each braid and sprinkle course salt on top. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 min. (Remember they will rise, so give each loaf enough room.)

Cool on rack, and try not to eat it all before it cools. Good luck!

Next time, I’m going to add more rosemary, and maybe some sage and thyme. Braiding in a circle would be fun. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

The Crisp Days of Autumn

As summer turns to fall, the leaves slowly swirl to the ground… and chickens run, thinking the sky is falling. Oh girls, you are quite safe. As the bread dough is rising, I’m giving my girls some free range time in the yard. Their antics are both relaxing and amusing.

I gather some rose petals from my still blooming and quite fragrant Rugosa rose bushes. Add to that some fresh herbs–rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme–and in to the nesting boxes it goes. Nellie soon discovers the rose petals and snatches them up–one by one–almost as fast I put them in. Yes, the girls know what’s good for them.


Time stands still as I engage in the chicken world. The girls often circle me, perhaps it’s a safety blanket of some sort, or maybe they are as curious about me as I am of them. My rooster coffee mug is a big hit today. He’s quite the stud, even if he’s only a painting.

The bread buzzer goes off and it’s back in to their run, with assistance from my little Aussie, aka “the Chicken Herder”. It doesn’t take much, the girls know the routine. Though, there is always one who tries to defy the dog. Silly girl, the Chicken Herder always wins.

With the girls safely in their run, I return inside. Chickens are such a lovely diversion.