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Andrew and the Chickens

July 17, 2011

I know. I know.  The title of this post sounds like it could be the name of a 1960’s garage band.  But it’s just one more of the goings-on around the Zeller farm this summer.  It all started back in the spring when my friend Geoff told me about a young man over at the university who was interested in finding a place to raise chickens – 700 of them.  His name is Andrew, and he has ambitions of being a farmer one day and wanted to try his hand at raising a large flock of free-range, naturally-grown chickens this summer.  I invited him out to visit our place and listened to his plans.  It turns out he raised 70 in his backyard last summer and had everything figured out and all the bases covered.  Interested in seeing him pursue a dream, I agreed to let him use the pasture for the summer.

Just after the university let out for summer break, Andrew came out and started to put everything in place.  He got one of the stalls in my pasture barn cleaned out and ready to serve as a brooder coop, and a week or so later, he received 300 little peepers in the mail.  Truthfully, I was not aware that the post office would still handle live animals, but apparently they do.

Andrew fed his flock corn and other grains – all sprouted  I cannot remember why he sprouts them first, but I can tell you he has a reason for everything he does.  I believe that in the field of natural farming, he is one of the most widely-read people I have ever met.

Before long, he moved his little flock out to pasture, cordoning a 40’ by 40’ section of land with a portable electric fence.  This thing is a plastic mesh fence with electrified strands of wire running throughout it.  A small battery and a fence charger will deliver a little zap to any little bird trying to get out or any little varmint trying to get in.

He built a mobile trussed shelter for them to find shade under.  It was a wooden frame with a large billboard canvas stretched across it, and it turned out to be a sturdy and attractive little shelter that that has held up quite well – even against the summer storms.

As the weeks have stretched out, the chicks have grown to quite a little flock of yard birds.  The electric fence finally failed to contain them any more, so now they roam all four acres of my pasture, most of my front yard, the wooded areas all around, and a good bit of the back yards of our neighbors across the way.  They seem to stay under shelter to avoid the keen eyes of the hawks who have killed a couple dozen over the last several weeks.  But they all come running when he walks down from the barn with their food buckets.  He looks like the Pied Piper.

Soon the whole escapade will be over.  He will be processing and selling the birds over the next two weekends.  We did a trial run yesterday just to get the kinks worked out of the equipment.  As it turns out, he decided to just raise the initial 300 rather than the 700 that he had originally intended.  So the chicken days will be coming to an end in the next couple of weeks.  If any of you would like some pasture-raised, naturally-grown chicken, let me know and I will put you in touch.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kenny permalink
    July 17, 2011 5:28 pm

    Wow. That is really cool! Are all 300 still there?? I’ll have to come by and see all the commotion soon. . .

  2. August 9, 2011 10:06 am

    Dan, I would like to talk with Andrew about purchasing some chickens.

    Thanks! Fun story.


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