21st Mar 2011
Thank you for your excellent course the other saturday. It was practical and so useful.
The chicken was delicious by the way.
Kill, pluck, gut and bone course
I am Alison Weather and I have been keeping chickens since 2002. I started with three hens and the magic of that first egg is what inspires me to spread the word and encourage everyone to keep a few hens, just for those fabulous eggs. The fact that they are fabulous pets as well is a bonus!
I had no experience with chickens and knew no-one else with any, so my initial experience was 'hands on' and what I could gather from a book. My flock of three were planned to have the run of the garden with a free standing house in a corner, but that lasted a week. A riot from my family resulted in a hen pen being built down the long fence of the garden, so that hens had the run of the bushes down the side and left the main lawn for the children to play on, once it was returned to its former chicken poo free state.
As so often happens, and you will smile as you read this, my flock mysteriously expanded from 3 to 11 over time. As I came across chickens for sale another 2 would appear in a box in the car and suddenly appear in the pen a little later. At least that is what I told my husband. I just couldn't resist buying new chickens; chicken keeping became addictive. I also started reading as much as I could and found that there wasn't a completely comprehensive book, so had to pick up bits and pieces as I found them.
In 2005 we moved to Hook Farm and moved the chickens with us. Our new neighbours gave us four building site fencing panels to house the chickens until we could build a pen for them and the fencing panels worked so well that we have used them for the hen pens ever since. Word spread that we had chickens and I started to be asked if I sold them. So I ordered some in and I haven't looked back. From buying the hybrids in batches of 10 at a time, I now get them in in batches of 100 at a time.
I was, and still am, selling chickens to first timers, just as I had been once, so I started putting together Information Sheets to give to customers who bought chickens. As I sold more chickens my husband suggested starting Chicken Keeping courses, which I duly started in 2006. They are a huge success and I enjoy the interaction with the delegates who come on the courses. The numbers are limited to 6 on a course to ensure personal attention, but also to allow the interaction as we bounce ideas around and deal with some urban legends to do with fox deterants.
The Information Sheets were very well received and so I have done a lot of research as well as recording practical solutions to common problems. I am a keen photographer and keep a camera in my farm coat pocket to record events as they happen. I have combined my research, my practical experience and my photographs into a book, Chicken Keeper, which I am very excited about and which has now been published. I am passionate about chickens and about passing on as much information as possible, so I have put the Information Sheets on the website under Support and will add more over time.
I love meeting people and discussing chickens, so I really hope to meet you soon.
Best wishes, Alison