When my 6 year niece was asked if she would accept an interview about her chicken farming experience she excitedly replied “ooh I didn’t know chicken farming was so fancy.” For sake of protecting her identification I asked my niece to pick an alternate identity and she requested to be referred to as “Rhubarb Muffin”.
Q: What do you have to do to look after chickens.
A: Give them fresh water, clean the wood chips and collect the eggs
Q: How many eggs do you get everyday
A: Sometimes 1. sometimes 11.
Q: What is the hardest part of being a chicken farmer?
A: Changing the water because it sprays me
Q: What do you like most about your chickens
A: They go “bock bock”
A: How much does a dozen eggs cost?
A: 5 dollars
Q : Do you know what organic means?
Q: Is it hard to pick up a chicken?
A: Yes, but I am good at it.
So Rhubarb Muffin may not have vast insight into the world of organic agriculture and animal husbandry but she is learning a lot about responsibility, empathy for living things and math & accounting skills (if I drop 2 eggs before getting to the house will I have enough to sell to get my $5?) There seems to be a fair amount of fun in the chicken business as I’ve seen RM and my daughter spending a lot of time playing with the docile and friendly hens . In the picture below “dress up” and chicken farming merge well for 6 year-olds. Maybe tomorrow I’ll don a tiara and add a skip before heading out to work too.
We knew early on that we needed covered growing space to extend the flower season. I remembered that friends of ours had purchased a used hoophouse from local farmers that moved away and it was still sitting in their carport months later. I inquired as to their plans for it and as luck would have it they had decided against setting it up and it could be ours for a little work exchange to help install a wooden swing set for their daughter. Perfect.
We set about installing it in the fall. We put the wooden perimeter together and got all of the PVC ribs up in no time. We even draped the plastic over the structure and clipped it on front and back PVC ribs. We were feeling good about our progress. Then the first storm blew into town and blew the plastic off. Not deterred, we put the plastic back on and used wood lathe to attach it down along the sides of the structure. We didn’t get the end walls in place before the next storm arrived. This time it lifted the entire structure up, like a giant kite, base and all, ripped the plastic and broke many of the PVC ribs….. This bruised our spirits a little but we persevered. The engineer on the farm took on the challenge and dug concrete blocks into the ground to anchor the structure and added a wooden ridge beam with supports to add strength. He also got the end walls with doors up before the next storm. The other night we heard the wind blowing hard again and I lay there wondering what condition the hoophouse would be by morning. I awoke to find the hoop house standing strong. It appears so far that the third resurrection of the hoop house is a success. Here’s hoping it stays strong in the storms to come and keeps the flowers within warm and plentiful.
Shannon Roberts, Farmer Florist
I love the “launch” metaphor for the start of a new business. I can clearly visualize in my minds eye a small little boat being thrust off the beach with a rough push to splash into waters unknown and uncharted ventures. There is excitement as the boat pushes away from shore but will it float and weather the next storm? My sister and I are thrilled to get this opportunity to put our passion for growing amazing seasonal flowers to create “Blooming Meadows”, but admittedly there is trepidation before we make the final push of energy and make our vision a reality. We don’t have masters in business administration to guide us. We have not farmed on this scale nor been so vulnerable and dependent on the nature – will the rain ever hold up long enough so we can plow the fields and will we learn how to live with frequently visiting lovely deer who could possibly consume our every last seedling?
Luckily for us we have fantastic crew of friends and family cheering us on, not letting us turn back and so we launch.
Lauren Bennewith, Farmer Florist