BYC Member Interview - donrae

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Another member who doesn't need introducing is Rachel, known to BYCers as donrae. Rachel has been a BYC member since June 2010 and will often be found in the What Breed/Gender? forum section, helping members identify their chicken breeds. This incredible woman still regularly visited BYC to help answer members questions during a spell in 2013 when she was fighting and recovering from leukaemia. She kindly agreed to be interviewed for BYC so you all can get to know her and her flock and family a bit better.

    Thank you, Rachel!

    1. Rachel, tell us a bit more about yourself.

    Believe it or not, I do have a life outside of BYC! I'm a Christian, wife, mother, daughter, friend, nurse, animal lover, avid reader, gardener/homesteader, prepper. Makes for a busy life [​IMG]

    I've been a Christian basically all my life, so no big conversion testimony there. Just born and raised Baptist, and always challenged to reflect Christ's grace in my everyday life. It's difficult, because being snarky comes so much more natural to me!

    I met the love of my life, my husband Don, in 7th grade. We married when we were 21, and celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last year. We have two sons. Big Boy just turned 15 and got his learner's permit, so I've been busy teaching him to drive. Sugar Monkey will be 13 next month, he's all legs and elbows right now. Keeping food in the house is challenging right now! Our family are devotees of select television shows (Firefly and Buffy, anyone?) and love to quote lines from them, to the bewilderment of non-fans. Our sense of humor leans toward the sarcastic, and in-jokes abound here.

    I've been a nurse over 20 years, currently working in Home Health. Seeing how our diet is affecting our health as a nation has prompted an interest in nutrition, which in turn has lead to a skepticism of the industrial food supply. Hence the gardening and prepping, and the chickens just kind of fall into that. Menu planning, preserving food, financial stewardship are all related interests, they all contribute toward a lifestyle.

    My biggest challenge recently was being diagnosed with leukaemia in June 2013. After 11 weeks total in the university hospital 250 miles from home (including missing holidays, birthdays, and our anniversary), 5 rounds of being systemically poisoned...I mean, getting chemo, and blood/platelet transfusions almost hitting triple digits, I'm in remission! I could not have done it without faith in Jesus and my family, including my wonderful mom Ellen. She put her life on hold to stay in the hospital with me for weeks at a time. She's an amazing woman, and I know she's going to read this and probably cry a little.....that's okay, mom, I'm crying a little, too. Love you so much! [​IMG]

    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    I've always been very animal-oriented, the kid who just couldn't leave the animals alone. My folks had chickens when I was growing up, so it was just natural for me to have a flock whenever housing allowed. Chickens didn't really become my passion until the last 5 years or so. I think it's important to opt out of the commercial food industry as much as possible, and having chickens is an easy way to do that. Plus, they have untold entertainment value!

    3. Which aspect(s) of chicken keeping do you enjoy the most?

    Oh, watching a broody hen raise chicks! That's hands-down my favorite part. They're so maternal, and take such good care of their chicks. The sounds they make when the find something to eat, how excited they get, it just makes me smile. Tucking her babies under her at night, or teaching them to's all wonderful to watch. Second is watching a good rooster take care of his hens. Warning them, calling them, courting's all a wonderful set of behaviors when done correctly.

    4. Which members of your flock, past and present, stand out for you and why?

    My first chicken I recall was named Indian. I must have been around 6, so say 1977. My folks ordered a batch of Leghorn pullets and got a free, exotic chicken. They got a paper with it saying it was an Aracauna and would lay blue or green eggs. Well, no one believed that....Easter eggers were unheard of then. I picked that reddish chick out of the flock of white Leghorns, named her Indian because she was the same color as my Indian Red crayon. Sure enough, she started laying green eggs! My mom says she was the talk of the neighborhood, with those colored eggs. I'm not sure how long she lived, but she is one of my more vivid childhood memories. I've always been drawn to Easter eggers, ever since that little red hen.

    More recently, I had a rooster named Rocky who was special to me. He was one of my first home hatched birds, a black sex link rooster. He was my main flock rooster for 4 years. I hatched lots of his chicks, and even today most of my flock is descended from him. He was a large, calm, nice rooster. Never aggressive to humans, good at calling the hens and courting them, and the hens liked him. He had multiple warning calls, even different calls for different dogs!

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

    I have two black bantam cochin hens who are my dependable broodies. One decided to brood in a feeder last year, it was cute but I had to break her due to my health. Then, this month, I had her and her older chicks in the grow-out pen. She'd weaned her chicks, so I moved her to the main flock. When I went out the next day, she was gone. I was pretty upset, she's a great broody and I haven't lost a bird for quiet a while. Then, when I went to the grow-out pen, I kept thinking I was seeing the other black hen, moving very fast from one end of the pen to the other. It took me a while to realize the first hen had left the main flock, out of the run, across the driveway, over a breeding pen, and back into the grow-out pen! She didn't even come back to be with her chicks, she was done mothering them. Apparently she just wanted to be in that pen, so I've left her there. I've got a pile of eggs, hoping to tempt her into going broody again.

    Not specific to me, but a funny thing I enjoy with chickens is a baby chick riding on momma's back. That still cracks me up!

    6. Beside chickens, what other pets do you keep?

    Right now, I have two horses (Daffy and Amy), two dogs (Roscoe and Eve), multiple barn cats including Pete, who has designated the coop and run his personal property, and a milk snake (Buddy). We've had goats, turkeys and pigs, but they're not so much pets as livestock. We also have two aging Rouen drakes.

    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    My sons insisted I add the following questions and answers..

    7a. What's your favorite animal? Fried chicken
    7b. What's your favorite color? Gravy

    Besides that, just that I cherish the BYC community. A big thank you to Rob and all the great moderators that make this community such a great place to learn and share!

    Some photos...yep, that's me.


    One of our favorite places to drive...


    previous flock. Front and center is Betty, my Oops EE rooster I thought was a hen for the longest time.....


    My patriarch Rocky, demonstrating a chicken tractor....


    Big Boy and Sugar Monkey, 2008, with the Dane we had at the time, Pharaoh...


    Big Boy at 8th grade graduation. Isn't he handsome?


    The fam at OHSU during my first imprisonment/hospitalization.


    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014
    N Sully, Hamiam and Sally Sunshine like this.
  2. Leahs Mom

    Leahs Mom Free Ranging

    Feb 9, 2012
    Northern Indiana
    Thank you! Enjoyed reading! :D

    Editing to add - I think we have a lot in common in many ways except I'm older and, thankfully, haven't had to experience major illness.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
    Hamiam likes this.
  3. Suzie

    Suzie Crowing

    Jul 9, 2009
    What an amazing interview!

    Donrae you have my are one incredible person, you are surrounded by a wonderful loving family and your love for them and all animals shines through in your responses to the questions posed to you in the interview.

    I have read many of your posts and no doubt you have helped me and many others here with your excellent advice...

    I pray that your remission continues for many, many have been through such an awful illness and your spirit is to be applauded.. it is an honour to know of you..

    Thanks for sharing your life with us...

    Hamiam likes this.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Thank you Rachel. Your faith shines.
  5. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself and family, Rachel. Wonderful interview!
  6. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Songster

    Jul 13, 2013
    SW Kansas
    Thank you for sharing Donrea,you were one of the first to guide me here at BYC. I always smile when I see you on a thread! Thank you for sharing a bit of your life. Lot's of good wishes to you and yours,

    Always pleased to meet a fellow Browncoat [​IMG] Hmm new thread idea anyone?
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Free Ranging

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Double ditto, Rachel! [​IMG]
  9. KentuckyMom

    KentuckyMom Songster

    Jul 15, 2013
    Foster, Kentucky
    Thank you for being willing to share a piece of yourself.
  10. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Great interview of a great person. Rachel is a class act!
    drumstick diva likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: