Sunday, March 6, 2011

the workshop

I just finished a tall frothy glass of Caribou Slobber and I loved it. The brown ale with the eccentric name was a gift from Sage, one of the workshoppers who traveled to the farm today to dive into the world of backyard chickens. She and ten others came from four different states (and two cities!) to spend a Sunday at Cold Antler and go home with a cardboard box full of future fritatas. It was a wonderful afternoon.

The Chicken 101 workshop was my first since becoming a Chicken Author. I was nervous as all get out. There were things I wished I had planned better—but overall it was a success. Folks signed up to learn about raising laying hens, and between the talks, questions, and conversations: that is exactly what they received. They also left with a copy of Chick Days and their very own Ameraucanas, Buff Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Reds. Not a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday.

Cathy Daughton arrived early to be my saving grace. She brought her beautiful cinnamon coffee cake braid and did everything from dishes to help answer beginner questions. I'm blessed to have her in my life.

Soon after she arrived the attendees started to show up. The recent snow melts of the last two days brought the gift of parking spaces, so everyone was able to squeeze their cars and trucks along the road. Before long the house was full of people eager and willing to see their chicks and talk poultry. We enjoyed a brunch of quiche and Daughton Cinnamon Fanastico and then got into the big show.

We started in the nursery, going over the breeds and brooder basics. As I explained about heat lamps and pine shavings, people got to hold their future employees in their warm hands. After that initial talk from me and a general Q&A we broke for lunch to eat up some homemade pizza. Collin played some banjo tunes while the PBS special The Natural History of the Chicken aired on the used television. After that, we went out into the wind and rain to discuss adult hens, housing, and diseases in the barn. It was like a treehouse club of homesteaders and future farmers. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and kind.

The workshop ended in the living room with more questions and discussion. We went over cleaning coops, predator control, stories, and more. When all of us were spent, full, and excited we filled up their transport containers with chicks and said our goodbyes. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the fellowship and fowl. I felt lucky to host it.

I'll do another workshop like this the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Already we have three folks signed up and I hope more of you decide to join us. It'll be a beautiful spring weekend on the farm, complete with romping lambs, home-brewed beer and a bonfire. And you get to go home with some chicks in a little box. Email me if you want in on the party. There's a great old grand hotel just three miles from the farm.

I didn't tell this to anyone, but the entire time I was handing people chicks or in the barn talking about frost-bitten combs—I kept thinking about a few springs earlier in Idaho. I was in their position in 2006. I had just moved to the other side of the country and wanted to produce as much of my own food as possible. Diana (my friend and mentor) showed me all of the things we covered today. It was a wash of gratitude to realize just half a decade later I was back on the east coast with my own land, flock, and telling other beginners about scratch grains and reference books. I still remember that day I picked up our spring order of chicks and I drove them in the snow to her farm. We set up the brooder, and I watched her open that postal box of babes with the awe of a 6-year-old in a pet-shop window giving away free puppies. After the chicks were settled, I remember thanking her and telling her I hoped some day to do the same for someone else. Today I had that chance.

Thank you, Di and everyone who made my farm a part of their weekend. Let me know how those little ones do.

photo by Alli Schweizer

24 Comments:

OpenID barntalkblog said...

I wish I could have been there! Although right now it's snowing and we have about 10 inches on the ground... March is in like a lion in central PA!

-Autumn

March 6, 2011 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Jacinta said...

If only I weren't on the other side of the world, I'd be there! Homebrew, banjo playing, chooks, farming, yummy food, oh it all sounds like a wonderful way to fill a weekend. Jacinta

March 6, 2011 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Hey Jenna, the chicks and I are home, and they have settled in beautifully. Everyone is eating and drinking well, and sufficiently perky. Thank you and Cathy for the good food and good info, and thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable day!

March 6, 2011 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Sounds like a great day, wish I could have been there. I do have the next best thing though, Chick Days! I picked it up at Lowe's, of all places, and have been enjoying every page of it! You're pay it forward help to future chicken owners began long before today, by sharing your experiences here and in your wonderful book. Thanks so much.

Blessing,
Debi

March 6, 2011 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger kmkat said...

Caribou Slobber?! There is a microbrew (in Montana, I t think) called Moose Drool. Wonder which one came first?

March 6, 2011 at 9:47 PM  
OpenID Tami said...

I receive email periodically from Mother Earth News advertising books and cd's on various topics. This past week that email included your book Chick Days! I am always excited to see and hear about your books doing well and selling in prominent places.

March 6, 2011 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Sounds like seriously good karma all 'round. Glad you had a good day.

March 6, 2011 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger ~*Jenn*~ said...

That sounds like an awesome day, SO jealous to be in the wrong country LOL Hey Jenna, I tried buying Chick Days at Indigo here in Canada and it's unavailable everywhere, and I can't get our credit card to work on Amazon, we're having chicks delivered at the end of April, is there anyway I can buy a copy of the book from you and pay for shipping?

Cheers!

Jenn

March 6, 2011 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger miss lady*cakes said...

jenna,
this was so inspiring! I've a question about when you speak about "half a decade later". You've advised us to take it slow.
How did you begin? I've read Made From Scrath, so I'm aware of some of your beginning adventures, but i'm wondering: was there a big turning point that made you decide this new life?
Cos it seems no matter what I try or what i feel I'm determined to do/start/undertake, I always seem to slip back ino my old Average American Consumer habits. But you seem to have pushed past that.
Please share!

March 7, 2011 at 1:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Sounds like a grand time!! I am hoping to be able to make the Memorial Day weekend Chick Day, but I'm not sure if we can do it yet. Each morning when I am staring out the kitchen window into the backyard sipping that first cup of coffee as dawn breaks I imagine our coop and little kitchen garden out there! I am really hoping and planning that this will be the year...

March 7, 2011 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

What a wonderful full-circle moment for you. You've got some good karma going, girl! Glad everyone had a good time. Hope to get an update on Gibson soon.

March 7, 2011 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful day! I wish I could have been there...maybe someone here in Nova Scotia will share their wisdom someday!

March 7, 2011 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

Bet you are having a snow day today (Monday) in Veryork. We have a foot and half on the ground in Burlington, more to come. Be safe out there.

March 7, 2011 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

It's a mess out there. Ice. Snow. I had to open the truck doors with hot water squirted from a sheep oral-syringe...

The Vermont State Police have ordered all non-emergancy travel off the roads.

I called the company hotline to see if work was still open. It said to just drive slower. Great.

March 7, 2011 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Sage said...

Thank you for everything Jenna! The workshop was informative, and I left with a boxful of chicks, a head full of knowledge and a heart full of new friends. Good times!

Glad you like the beer! It's the homebrew equivalent of Moose Drool, I think.

March 7, 2011 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

Such a wonderful, humble description of the day. I'm sure you have touched those people just as much as Diana did for you. CAN'T WAIT FOR THE 'BACKYARD BBQ' WORKSHOP IN JUNE!!!!!!! BTW, what's the name of the hotel, so I can make my reservation for that weekend?

March 7, 2011 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Terrific workshop - I highly recommend it for both new chicken keepers and veterans. I learned lots of new things and I've had chickens for a year and a half. The food was great, and such a nice, and very interesting group of people. I'm enjoying the book.

March 7, 2011 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

That's awesome - sounds like it went...flappingly? :) I wish I were close enough to attend CAF functions. Stupid...miles.

March 7, 2011 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

I am so glad you had a good showing and so much fun. You had me worried with the weird name of that drink at the beginning of the post. I sure there were some very happy people going home with their new treasures. How is Gibson?
Odie

March 7, 2011 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

This is actually a comment on the Valentine's/Seven discussion, but I wanted to re-post it currently to make sure everyone saw it...

In the latest YogaJournal, there was an article that made me think of you, Jenna, and this discussion in general...

The upshot of the article was basically that our bodies aren't made to sit in a chair for 6-8 hours at a shot. And a recent study showed that people who work office jobs and exercise regularly have less all-over health benefits than people who work office jobs and just get up and do something every so often - walk to the water cooler, do some stretches, jog in place for a minute, etc -

I don't remember if it targeted weight-loss specifically, but in the vein of making choices that support all-over health and wellbeing, loving and accepting the bodies we have while working to make them the best they can be, its a little change that could potentially make a huge difference... If you think about it, it makes sense, from circulation to immune system stimulation to the way gravity pulls on muscles and bones...

March 7, 2011 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

While get togethers at the farm are fun they are also dangerous, especially in New York State, one of the most litigation places on the face of the earth.

You homeowners insurance carrier will most likely cancel your insurance when they find that you are farming and having farming get togethers. Suggest that you meet with your insurance agent and tell them the truth.

March 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Congratulations on your Chick Day Workshop wish I could have been there, but California is just way too far.

March 8, 2011 at 1:17 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Regardless of whether NY is one of the most "litigation places" in the world or not, the insurer probably wouldn't cancel the policy. Although they might deny coverage for injuries that occurred as the result of commercial activity. I mean. It is a farm. The insurer has to realize a person is going to farm there. Besides, anything that happened in/near the barn or outbuildings would probably need its own rider. But if every lady who ever hosted an Avon party ran the risk of getting their insurance canceled, nobody would do it. And I think the occasional-chicken-related gathering probably falls under that umbrella.
Also, it's not nice to accuse strangers of insurance fraud on the internet.

March 8, 2011 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Raju sharma said...

This is a wonderful post. The things given are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.
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marqgibs
Email Addresses

March 15, 2011 at 6:54 AM  

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