Just to state up front that this is a mishmash article this week. Things are in motion. At times in our lives whatever we are going after hits some type of quagmire of confusion. I'm in it.
What the neighbors think
Today my friend Jessica mentioned that she had seen my name on some One Straw mailings. She then asked/commented on my wanting to be a chicken farmer. Then proceeding to talk about how discusting broiler chickens are, how they sit around get fat and break their legs by the simple fact of their own weight. Voicing her absolute distaste for the whole thing. Jessica continued to talk about the genetically modified chickens that they have produced over the years to grow fast. I needed to go get my ice cream cone which was ready and when I returned she had vanished. What I wanted to go into was how I was going to be different. How my chickens were going to be on fresh ground daily, be fed organic feed, be in the sunshine, have fresh air, ect.... In that whole internal conversation with myself, I too was wondering how I and my chickens would be different.
It is a fact that the standard run of the mill broiler chicken is not very attractive. They have scruffy white feathers with very little appeal. I will start with these unattractive birds. My desire is to have really cool looking chickens, yellow ones, black ones, cool ones. This could all be a dream. First I need a barn.
Well, I have a plan of sorts. 100' x 30'. I want it to have a natural convection air moving system by opening windows and sky lights. I want it heated by the sun. An alternate heat source will be neccessary. I have sent it to the SCRD for perusal. Building a barn out of tire bales may be cool but is it practical? Initially I thought I may be able to build my tire bale barn for around $40,000. The roof is going to be metal and at around $25,000 alone, it will by far be the most expensive part. I will need an alternate ventilation system to run with the window opening system. What is that and what will that cost? Heating- Certainly the sun will do the majority. Maybe my alternate heating source is simply heat lamps during the beginning times of the first 3 weeks. The glass on front and hardware,what will that cost? I need to start pricing all these things. I am beginning an actual business plan, so hopefully things will start to come clearer.
Chicks on the way
I have created my first brooder room. I have my heating system going and it is going to be great. For the first 2 weeks the brooder needs to be between 95-100 degrees. I need to buy my electrolyte solution and feed. The 50 chicks and 10 turkey chicks come next Monday. Very excited. I will be building a portable chicken pen to move them around in.
I got my design from a website called, The Deliberate Agrarian. He seems to be somewhat of a typical Ohio Christian-type guy. Lots of info on his website. Really this guy is all about giving people the courage to do it themselves. He also has a design for a tub style chicken plucker. I and two other guys will build one with his plans and some of his equipment.
Can I do this?
Sure I guess. We as humans can do anything that we want. It always comes down to the rubber meeting the road. Being dilligent, thorough, and persistent. Today I talked to nearest neighbors. I explained what I want to do. How the land will only handle so many chickens. How I first need a barn. How I need to be able to compost all remains on the property. The fact that I can only process around 2,000 birds per year on my property. To do more would take an official facility.
Can I do this? I don't know... if I can get a barn built without going into a loan that is too big. This is a great exercise for life though.
My name is Lee Riggs. This is the story of my journey to be a farmer, to make a living at farming, to create food security for myself, my family, and my community. To grow good food that is good for our bodies and our soul.