Poultry and Chicken research at the library and feed store

Madison, Wisconsin was the best place for me to live while I was writing How to Raise Chickens! The University of Wisconsin’s Steenbock Memorial Library , has a world-class collection in agriculture and life sciences. Their research librarians are the best! One in particular took an interest in my project and found me all kinds of wonderful material. Even if it didn’t make it into the book, I learned so much.

Robert Frost’s poem about his wonderful chicken, a White Wyandotte, A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury, did get into the book. It’s also in the Complete Poems. The Frost estate was thrilled to have this little-known poem offered to an appreciative audience. You’ll love it – this pullet was like Mother Eve to him!

If there is a university near you, make use of its resources. They are eager to support local people and reach out to their communities. Where I now live, on California’s Central Coast, California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo is the local educational center. They have a Town Patron card for $60 a year, which gives you full access to all their facilities. It’s an invaluable resource. In this digital age, it’s amazing what they can find: artworks, scientific research, videos of all kinds.

Madison had Mad City Chickens, a group of local chicken people who worked with the Common Council, the city’s elected governing board, to make chickens fully legal in 2004, just before I arrived. So chickens were gaining in popularity. Two local film producers made a documentary about chickens and interviewed me. Mad City Chickens,   is available on DVD. Ask for it at the library!

Last Saturday the local feed store, Farm Supply, sponsored a Chicken Workshop. They set up 175 chairs but over 200 people showed up! They were enthusiastic about chickens! The store stocks traditional breeds but had only Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds that day. Nothing wrong with them! Both are wonderful breeds with long histories of serving well. But check Purely Poultry’s catalog for a wider choice of breeds and varieties.

One mother approached me to explain that her son had taken an interest in chickens, and now she found herself unprepared for her new role as 4-H Poultry Leader. Her son wanted to start with Belgian Bearded d’Uccles. They are a good choice for a youngster without other experience. They are attractive, have a good disposition and are small and easy to handle. I predict a good chicken future for this family!

Check with your local feed store to see if they will sponsor a Chicken Workshop. People find their way to poultry along many routes. There are many adventures along the way.