BYC Member Interview - Chickielady

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Robin, known to BYC members as Chickielady, has been a member of our community since March 2010. Another of our wonderful all rounders, she is known for her friendliness and beautiful flock of chickens.

    1) Tell us a bit about yourself

    Well…. I am a watercolor artist, small farmer, gardener, hunter, canner, cook… I like to "do" for myself and my family, anything that I can do, like making candles, soap, building, painting and all sorts of crafty stuff… whatever is going through my mad mind at the time.

    Somedays I get off on a tangent to make candles, and so I do, next week I might be totally engrossed in soap making, quilting, bread baking or what have you.

    But mostly I paint.


    And I have been drawing & painting since I could walk… and it totally consumed me for decades, rarely would I leave my desk. I drew, on everything, constantly, mostly horses because I was also horse crazy.

    When I wasn't drawing horses, I was riding horses, and little else mattered to me except helping raise the younger siblings as Mom & Dad worked.

    I being the eldest of 4 kids, made me often the babysitter, as well as my younger sister, and the 2 younger brothers were, of course, the crowing favorites of the family, clowns as they were.

    After I went dated my long time bestie Gary, and then we moved away I married my OTHER high school sweet heart, hormones kicked in & suddenly it was too much for the long distance love affair with Gary.......


    ....and so he married someone else as well.

    We both raised families, and divorced, imagine that!
    After a billion years, I went to California to help my Grandmother as she was 94 years old, and ran into Gary's parents, who were looking to buy property & retire there not too far from Grandma's place! Imagine that as well...
    Gary's parents did buy a place, and they moved out by my Grandma's and one day they had Gary show up, and Ka-Bam!
    We were in love again!
    Imagine that too!
    I tell people that Gary (alias Einstein) that we have known each other since before we were born, since our parents were friends in grade school, high school, and remain friends still today!
    I call Gary Einstein because he is constantly invented the coolest stuff, I just tell him it would be so nice to have an auto watering system (for example) and he builds it!
    So, we moved back up here & bought a 5-acre totally bare spot of land & built our little farm.


    I have 2 grown kids, and so far, 2 grandkids.........…. Gary had 4 girls (LOL) and he so far has7 grandkids!
    I've another due in December from my daughter.
    That'll make it ten!

    The red headed freckle face on the left is my son's son, Ryan… what a cutie patootie!

    2) Why & when did you start keeping chickens?

    I have been around and had my own poultry all my life. Great Grandma Rideout in Mo had a Dairy Farm, and she had chickens.
    Dad tells funny stories about he and another "cousin" who chased the rooster around Great Grandma's farm pond, and when they caught the bird, they flung him straight up over the water, watched it plop!
    And the bird swam back to shore.
    They had so much fun doing this over and over til the saturated bird could no longer float and was so exhausted it sunk below the water and Grandma whopped them good for killing her best rooster!
    Another story was that there was no chicken coop.........…. The birds roosted high in the beams of the barn, and they were not fed, there was no "layer feed" although there was scratch thrown out daily, and the birds ate bugs & whatever they could, and laid eggs where they pleased.
    One spot was up in the hay loft… most hens laid up there and my Dad as little boy went to gather eggs and found one nest full of eggs in an old tire...….. then the tire moved… they in the dimness he realized the "tire" was a big snake, and it was busy eating eggs.
    He ran back and told Grandma, who grabbed her shotgun and went up in the hayloft and gave the snake a load of shot!
    That was my Dad's maternal Grandmother, and then the Paternal Grandmother was from North Idaho via Scotland, she raised about 7 sons by herself… during the great Depression several sons left to find work, drove through the states doing odd jobs and on their way through Mo, they saw the most beautiful girl at a mailbox in front of a dairy, and before you knew it she left with him… back then parents were kinda glad youngun's moved on, no matter how fast the romance!
    Somehow, all the relatives ended up in the Bay area of San Francisco… except the dairy farmer Grandma, who remained there.
    Long story short, all these relatives had chickens.........… mostly Rhode Island reds and Leghorns and inner breeding enough going on.
    Back then they were chickens.
    Just before we moved back up here (after Grandma died in 2001) Gary & I ran across a feed store in Penngrove CA that had birds for sale on consignment, and there was 6 little French Silver Cuckoo Marans pullets, and a handful of light Brahmas, and I grabbed them, and moved back up here to Washington.
    I adore my birds, they entertain as well as feed us, and they give me a good reason to get my fanny out of bed in the morning!

    3) What aspect of chicken keeping do you enjoy the most?

    Well, there are so many… I enjoy the poultry shows, the friends envolved, that camaraderie. The learning envolved.
    This has alot to do with BYC as well.
    Not long ago, there was no internet, and being out in a rural area was a lonely place, however I love being isolated.
    Learning was a bit slow back then, there was no poultry magazines, few clubs, and no internet!
    But now, globalization and the internet available to all has made learning at our fingertips….. One reason I love BYC is the fact that we can e-mingle, exchange discussion and teach each other.
    Following the APA standard is so much easier, finding breeds we want and connecting up with breeders on other continents has opened doors to new and amazing breeds!
    How cool it is to e-speak to someone about their birds in Australia or Europe?
    We now can discuss disease, health treatments and other topics that we never could before.
    So I really do enjoy the learning.
    And hatching… I have hatchatitis and cannot seem to get rid of it!

    4) Which members of your flock stand out past & present and why?

    Well, there have been so very many, but a few I loved alot are Kathy… so named cuz she was a dink, very clumsy like Gary's sister.
    Kathy was one of the original French Silver Cuckoo Marans pullets we brought up here from California.
    All the pullets let out in the morning would jump and run and fly as they could… but Kathy would always fly right into a tree, a fence, a post.
    Even if there was only 1 tree in the entire yard… she'd hit it.


    Then there was the boys, Milton and Anthony… so named after a gay couple we knew in California.
    They were the best tag-team roosters I have ever had. They took turns watching, rounding up stray hens, and one would guard while the other ate. They were the best!



    Then we had Buster… who was a sport Partridge Chantecler hatched with single barring… so many fell in love with him, he was a jewel as well !

    Then another I loved was Pearl… who was a Splash marans hen that insisted she lay her egg daily, in the washing machine.
    The washer was on the back porch, and if someone left the lid down, she'd be at the back door pitching a fit until we lifted the lid.
    Had to be careful when you loaded the washer in case she was in there laying her egg!


    5) What was the funniest (chicken related) thing(s) that happened to you in your years as chicken owner?

    Funniest chicken related thing? WOW there are so many! Almost daily! But here is a funny one…. When we moved up here (with the light brahmas, rabbits, dogs cats and Silver Cuckoo Mrans, there was nothing here, so we brought the dog house and rabbit cages but had to build a coop fast…. in the mean time the birds roamed, and they knew I put the dog food just inside the dog house door.
    Now my old labrador would go in and nap...and those chickens would watch, and wait until the dog was asleep snoring away, then they'd go in and steal her kibbles… we could hear the tink-tink-tink of the chickens pecking the dog dish and sure enough, they's all be in there until the dog woke up and barked!

    Yep, the dog is in there sleeping !

    There was also a funny a few years back that I saw but had no camera on me at the time, where my herd of Buckeyes found a gardner snake about 8" long… and they played chicken football with that snake for several minutes with one bird stealing the snake from another… until one cockerel got the snake, tossed it up over his head, caught it by the head & swallowed it down like a fat piece of spaghetti!
    True story!
    No picture of it happening… but here's the bird....


    He was a beautiful bird!
    Seen here at 5 months old.

    6) Besides chickens, what other animals do you keep?

    Now, we have a flock guardian dog Jack, a rescue dog who will bite people but loves his flocks, which is exactly what a flock guardian is supposed to do…. He minds like a cat… and will be a bone head forever!


    Jack is behaving better these days, he used to get in all sorts of trouble, like when he tried to eat the sticker pig… trying to get him to hold still to remove the stickers was almost impossible without chaining him to a tree… Even then he had to be taken to the vet (who he tried to bite) and given a shot so drug him… Jack does not bite sticker pigs anymore!


    Then we have 2 rescue kittens, sisters, Amy and her sister, Sissy who are house cats only, and keep us entertained as much as the chickens!

    I keep trying to get more critters, but Gary says NO, so I am (so far) behaving!

    7) Anything you'd like to add?

    Anything more I'd like to add?

    Well, I have been through so many breeds in the last few decades, but I am now trying my best to 'tone it down' to having just one breed (or one flock) and so far, I am leaning toward a mixed flock, Marans /Bielefelders… and it is going to be very hard for me to actually have all those birds intermingling…. so wish me luck there!
    Most of you already know when Gary and I got here with our dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits there was nothing here but a lawn mower barn, and we made it into a cabin and lived in it a few years until we had the well and house built, so here is the before and after.


    Half way to now:
    We added a 8x8 foot kitchen on the front of the 10x16 foot mini barn… Cool, huh?

    This was the house site the first day we arrived and camped, with a trailer full of building supplies, a big sink and a shower stall !

    Then we built~

    Same spot...

    It rains A LOT here...

    Then winter hit and we had to tarp it all in the horrible near hurricane winter that year!

    Tarp was about 50 feet by 45 feet...the UPS driver could barely deliver it...






    Current photos now:


    So here now is my painting desk with North Light...

    Through the lace you can see down to the coop yards, and to the far left is the original mini-barn cabin, which now houses incubators, brooders, freezers (of food!) and racks of home canned goods.

    A better view without the windowsill clutter....and here it is early spring, things not yet growing and green.
    Buildings on the far right are pump and tank houses where we store water.
    Thanks for looking!
    Love BYC!

    Blue Copper Marans in the garden


    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
    1 person likes this.
  2. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
  3. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens

    Thank You Robin,
    That is a very nice and well wrote interview!
    Good stories also
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Painting is amazing ....any more posted anywhere?

    Great story full of great stories and pics!
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  5. N F C

    N F C home again! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    Wonderful interview, thank you for sharing with all of us. Love to see more of your watercolors!
  6. WVduckchick

    WVduckchick For The Birds! Premium Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Wonderful stories.... so nice to "meet" you. You and Gary sound like true soulmates. Neat how everything works out, huh?

    And Buster was stunning!!

  7. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2013
    What great stories!! So great to get to know you better
  8. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    Fabulous interview Robin, I've so enjoyed reading all about you and yours :thumbsup
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Awesome stories!
  10. jchny2000

    jchny2000 Goslings are precious!

    Jun 30, 2012
    Pendleton, Indiana, USA
    Loved learning about your life and your passions, thanks for sharing with us! Beautiful home, and love your flocks.

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