Tuesday, December 30, 2008

fair memories

If you read Made From Scratch, you may remember a story about when I entered my Silkies at the Bonner County Fair. It was a big time. I got to wash the chickens in my kitchen sink with Seventh Generation dish detergent and blow dry them on the counter. The humming whrrrrr of the hair dryer played back up to Spokane's Backporch Bluegrass show on NPR. I wrote in the book about how I remembered thinking how different my life was from the people I graduated design school with. That I hadn't traveled the globe, or bought a fancy car, or even got a promotion in the office - but I had blow-dried Japanese miniature chickens i raised from poofballs in my kitchen. Which was a whimsical experience. And hell, that beats a postcard from Paris. After all, Paris doesn't lay breakfast for me everyday.

I showed up at that small fair with those birds in a cardboard box and no clue how poultry shows worked. But after some paperwork, help from others (there was a very confusing cage tag system), I had officially entered my first ever livestock in a fair! I loved it. I just loved that I could even say I did it. If I ever have kids, I'll probably want them all in 4-H just so I get to do it more often. Showing the chickens was downright fun. I didn't really care about the contest, but hanging around the hall and talking to fair-goers and other entrants was this instant community of friendly people that seemed to come out of nowhere (just-add-chickens). If you have some birds and a fair close to home, go for it. At the very least you'll meet some interesting people and maybe come home with a ribbon. And there is this great parent organization called the APA. I ended up joining just for the sake of being in the show loop and getting their newsletters and such. I tell you, chickens are a pretty hip scene.

That stupid smile my face is half awe that we won something, and half bliss that I was even holding a chicken I raised in the first place. Just a year before that photo was taken, farming was a pipe dream. Now, a year after it was taken, I have 16 birds and supply my co-workers with free-range organic eggs, just like my mentor Diana did at my old job. Things happen like this. You'll see, when you get your own birds it all just falls into place. Usually without the aid of blow dryers though.

If you're new to homesteading, or maybe just thinking about it, I can not tell you how enjoyable poultry is to have around. If your town allows hens, seriously, don't waste another Spring without them. Chickens are easy, clean, quiet and their lives are full of personality and vigor. Here we have twelve laying hens and four roosters. The four roosters (Winthrop, Chuck Klosterman, Sussex and Rufus Wainwright) all get along. This is because Saro and Cyrus, my geese, will not allow fighting among the birds. If two roosters even consider fighting, the geese break it up and honk them away. They are CAF riot patrol. Now Chuck and Sussex are actually friends, and roost side by side every night in the coop. So peace can be made between hormonal angry men, I have proof with claws on a stick right outside.

6 Comments:

Blogger Diana said...

I was just wondering how you pulled off that rooster-to-hen ratio and then you laid it on me... geese. I've never managed less than 6 hens per rooster without cock fights breaking out, but then I've never called in a farm riot squad, either. Ain't it great to pull off something that hasn't been written about before? The books will tell you that you need a minimum of 8 hens per fella for peace on the farm. You go, girl.

December 31, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger taylor said...

Hey Jenna,

I hope you had a great Christmas! I tried calling you last weekend, I was in Bethlehem visiting Kim and Karen and was going to see if you were around to get together for a coffee or something, but your phone kept coming through as a busy signal. Anywho, I hope you have a great New Year's Eve (I'm totally gorging myself on the Twilight Zone marathon). Hopefully I'll get a chance to come out and visit, maybe this spring? When things are in bloom and less frozen?

Also, when did you say your book will be on display at B&N again?

Hope all is well! Cheers to you!
-Taylor :-)

December 31, 2008 at 5:45 PM  
Anonymous dogear6 said...

It took me several tries nearly 40 years ago, but I finally won a much coveted trophy at the county fair for my sewing skills. This wasn't 4H either, it was open class. For a high schooler, it was big stuff although no one I went to school with was impressed (except the 4H'ers - they knew what it meant). I also won a lot of blue ribbons for my cooking.

I agree with you - stuff like that was definitely a forerunner to what we do later. Now I'm into from scratch cooking, homemade gifts, and food preservation. Not too far a cry from everything I use to enter in the county fair and win my ribbons with.

December 31, 2008 at 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Becky Knight said...

I follow your blog because I really want to have chickens some day. Not sure how to make it work, but it's a dream that must be realized!

Thanks for keeping me inspired!

January 4, 2009 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Chicken Mama said...

Grrrrr . . . I hate it when Technology fails me. I just wrote a long comment and lost it. ANYWAY . . . !

Jenna, I have a question:

You seem to put yourself in situations that might initially be uncomfortable (like entering the fair). Do you have to MAKE yourself do these things or do you enjoy putting yourself "out there"? Assuming it's the former, I admire that. I need to do more of that.

January 5, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I just don't think about it. We'll all be dead in a few decades. a chicken show doesn't add up to much. Unless it's going to hurt me or shorten my or someone else's life I don't really put much weight on it.

January 5, 2009 at 11:46 AM  

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