Archive for the ‘Classes’ Category

The e-book- dreams, hard work, and much gratitude

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Today we launched The Blue Hill Farms Guide to Basic Chicken Keeping (for now as an e-book, we will most likely get it out in hard copy as well.) I like that it is called a “guide,” as I really don’t like telling anybody what to do. I would rather teach people what to expect, and then let them do things their own way, at their own pace, in their own time. I would like the seekers of this knowledge to be able to plan ahead, to avoid common problems, to be able to tell when everything is going along as it should be and to know what to do when plan A does not always work out (and the first rule of farming is – plan A does not always work out.) It is best to be prepared.

The guide is taken from the class we teach here in the spring – Poultry Keeping 101. This class is for anyone new to chicken keeping and/or people who are thinking about chicken keeping and would first like to see what they are getting themselves into. We bring them to our “outdoor classroom” on the farm where they can experience for themselves the sights, sounds, and feel of this new adventure they are undertaking. They get to see the chickens in action – see a hen taking a dust bath, touch a fluffy little hatchling, or even watch an egg pipping in an incubator for the very first time. We teach them the beginning basics of what it will take to keep their new charges happy, safe and healthy.

We like our classes to feel like people are sitting down and talking with a good neighbor or friend so that they feel comfortable to ask any kind of questions, even if they think the questions seem dumb. My grandfather always used to say that the only dumb questions in the world are the ones people don’t ask. Hey, if you don’t know something – ask. Better to find something out ahead of time than after it has become a issue. In fact, a lot of what is included in this guide is what our students have taught us with their questions. We have heard a lot of frequently asked questions from our beginners and it has helped us to help them learn the basics and dispel much misinformation that is floating around out there about poultry keeping.

We only teach these classes in the late spring/early summer months, but found that we were getting many inquires year round about many of the same issues. So it was time to write it all down, get it in a format that is easy to understand and use, and make it available everyone who needs it year round. It is truly my sincere hope that this guide becomes a useful reference and source of information for everyone who reads it. It always makes my heart glad to be able to pass on my experiences to others with the hopes that it will benefit and reward both the new keepers, and their chickens.

As with anything of this nature, this guide took a lot of time, effort and some plain old-fashioned hard work to bring into fruition, so I would like to take this moment in time to thank the two people without whom this guide would never have happened.

First, my thanks to Christy Shay, Editor, co-worker and good friend, who took all of my random e-mails of information and put them into a useable format. She put hours of time into this guide and has corrected miles of my horrific spelling and errors in grammar along the way. She has put up with my stories, endless questions and my fear of modern technology with patience and grace. I could have never done this without you Christy, you are truly a blessing in my life.

Also my thanks to Meredith Newcom, Illustrator, co-worker and friend, who brought color and life to these written words with her beautiful artwork. I watched in awe as she took her brushes and colors and blended them into these beautiful illustrations and whimsical portrayals of chickens. The illustrations and layout of the guide exceeded my wildest dreams for this piece, and her talent is a true gift, as is her friendship. Thank you Meredith.

I find it very apropos that the first chicks of spring hatched today; on the very same day we launched this guide.

New life and new beginnings in a new season. It just does not get any better than that!

Dreams realized, hard work paying off and recognizing their value is great way to start a project! I wish everyone success in their chicken keeping adventures, and welcome all of the farm’s new friends in poultry!