BYC Member Interview - honanbm

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Tipperary, Ireland
    Brenna, known to BYC members as honanbm, has been a member of our community since May, 2015. Another of our wonderful all rounders, she is known for her friendliness and good advice.

    1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

    I'm the middle child of the greatest parents anyone can ask for. I have an older brother and a little sister, both of whom are a huge part of my life. I have two nieces and two nephews. I have a VERY obvious favorite. I don't have or want kids of my own, but I do enjoy rock star status as best auntie. I get my brat fix, then I send them home. It's a win-win. We're a pretty tight knit group, and we all try to get together at least once a year for a family trip. I love my family. They rock, and I wouldn't be who I am without them.


    My brother, sister, and I at one of those horrible Sears photo shoots.


    My sister and I making "bird nests".

    A little background on the fam. My parents moved from Tacoma, WA to a little three acre piece of property near Gig Harbor back in 1984. My mom was a dairy farm girl, born and raised, and my dad was a city kid with a motorcycle. They actually met because he called the wrong number looking for a different girl. My mom, who was in nursing school at the time, thought he sounded cute and gave him her address (who does that???). They were married about 8 months later.

    Anyhow, my parents went about homesteading. My dad read some books and started building little barns and a HUGE chicken coop. Everything that man builds will outlive us all. This process was expedited out of necessity as my mom brought home sheep before there was a barn. Or a fence.


    My dad, brother, and I with our oldest sheep, Annie.

    They got their first goat when a buddy of my dad's went to jail. He had a pet Saanen that didn't have anywhere to go, so we went and picked her up. I will never forget that goat sitting in the backseat of our brown Oldsmobile like a person. Her name was Nola and she was the sweetest doe we ever had. Other than the goats and chickens, we had sheep, meat rabbits (Teriyaki rabbit is amazing), a cat and a couple dogs. My parents moved away from chickens pretty quickly as the rabbits were just so much easier to raise and process. Chickens did not re-enter my life for many years.

    My parents put every last dime into paying off their little house and property. They finally owned the place when I was in 4th grade. Then, one night, it burned down. We lost everything sans the photo albums that were packed so tightly into the shelves that only the bindings burned. Us kids were home alone with my brother acting as a baby sitter. He noticed a flicker in the skylight and went outside to check it out. The cedar shake roof was on fire. He got us girls out and up to the neighbor's place. My poor dad was on his way home, and followed the water trail from the fire truck. I can't imagine his panic when he realized that it was our house. I later spoke with one of the firemen that responded to that call. He remembered that it took four firemen to keep my dad from running into that burning house. Meanwhile, we were at the neighbor's watching Terminator 2. This was a treat as we did not have a television.

    The outpouring of community support was incredible. Huge bags of clothes, kitchen wares, toys for us kids, and the like were donated in spades. A whole lot of people were really good to us. We had many folks offer their homes until the insurance company sorted a rental. A reminder of how good and kind people can be.

    After the fire, we moved to a rental out on the water near the Herron Island Ferry dock. We lived there while the new house was built. We had a great time boating, clamming and fishing from the dock, but we all missed our place. We spent some cramped time in a five wheeler during the last month of building, but it was all worth it to get back home. Life came back together and went on.

    When I wasn't at home, I was likely at the family dairy farm where my grandparents, and a ton of remaining family on my mom's side, lived. Idyllic summers doing hay, chores, peeling cascara bark, hunting for fossils, and swimming in the river. Other than that, our family time was spent back packing, camping and working/playing outdoors. My mom always said the best reason to have kids was for the free labor. She definitely meant it.

    Fast forward to now. I have all sorts of hobbies. I absolutely love gardening and every year I expand a little more. Last year, we added a green house, which was the best addition by far. I love to make cold process soaps, I love cooking, I like to start artistic projects and never finish them, I love jigsaw puzzles, and I adore horror movies. All things horror. Halloween ties with Christmas as my favorite holiday, and pumpkins are one of my favorite artistic mediums. I also really love music and have a soft spot for heavy metal. I am completely devoid of any musical talent whatsoever.

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    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    Chickens didn't enter the picture until we bought our place back in 2013. The folks we bought it from had five hens, and I requested that they stay with the house. They obliged and my chicken lust surged to life.


    The first thing we did was get the girls a proper coop and build a run. They were living in one of those tiny prefabs that would barely fit two hens, let alone five. After some research (lurking on BYC), I determined that we had three black star sex links (Patti, Selma, and Marge), one red sex link (Plain Jane) and an Easter Egger (Evelyn). The three black star girls were very bold, friendly, and outgoing. They were in charge. Plain Jane was a nasty hen, second from the bottom. Evelyn, the EE hen, was bottom rung and very shy, but sweet. It wasn't long before I was scouring Craigslist for more hens. I struck gold when I found a coop, run, food/water supplies, and four hens (Australorp, light Brahma, EE, Welsummer) for $100! Done deal.


    A year or so after that, I was at the yuppie pet food place getting dog food and the gal at the counter asked me if I wanted any Bantam chickens. Um, yes. The next day, a lady brought a dog carrier with a broody mottled bantam cochin sitting on about 20 eggs to my house. She handed her over, said to keep the dog crate and practically ran away. A free chicken, and a pile of eggs! Thus, I was introduced to bantam cochins, and the most insanely broody hen I know to this day.


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

    I love chickens for many reasons. I love them for being a gateway animal. Because of them, I gained the to confidence to add ducks, and various other critters. I love the delicious eggs. I love their fluffy butts, and their funny, quirky personalities. That being said, I love that chickens pull their weight. I free range, and live in a temperate climate, so the feed bill is pretty low. I supply myself, and my family with eggs. Sometimes they even pay me for them! I also look forward to having meat birds one day. This year is pretty busy already with new additions, so we are shooting for having our first meat birds next year. Hopefully some Freedoms Rangers.


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

    My favorite chicken of all time was a little bantam cochin pullet named Nighthorse. She required assistance out of her shell after mama bird began fussing over the rest of the clutch. After assisting and letting her dry off in my hand, she was my favorite. Special from the get go, she would sprint to me even as a tiny little thing. She hopped into my hand for naps, and climbed up my arm every day. Over time, her beak became crooked. Not scissored, but kind of curved to one side. It didn't bother her and she grew up just fine. We moved the group out to their little grow out coop. They had their large covered run so they could see the big chickens and get used to one another in safety. One day, a hawk came. Nighthorse ran right up to it like she always did with anything new. It killed her through the covered run. I still don't fully understand how. It absolutely broke my heart. I buried her in my garden and sobbed for days. I'd never felt that way about a chicken before and I don't think I ever will again.


    Runner up was an Easter Egger named Adele. She was in the Craigslist group. She was something else. A chatter box that followed us everywhere, and never stopped trying to get in the house. I had a big box of dried lavender on the deck from a neighbor, and she decided to lay her eggs there. Lovely blue eggs in a box of lavender. I'm partial to Easter Eggers, and she is the main reason for that.


    Lastly, plain Jane, that nasty mean spirited red sex link I mentioned earlier. She would peck me for no reason and was downright awful to the one single chicken beneath her. Unremarkable in looks, bad personality... Until one day, she got sick. I found a lash egg in the nesting box (thanks to this site, I was able to figure out what a lash egg is), and Jane hunkered down feeling small. I brought her inside, assessed her, and started with an Epsom salt bath to clean her up. I towel dried her on my lap and we watched The X-Files together. She slept in a dog crate full of straw and ate yogurt, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs. We did this for two weeks. Boy, did her attitude towards me change. She became my pal. She didn't want to be a chicken anymore. She eventually moved back out with her girls, but she would still come and sit on my lap in the afternoons for some human time. She never laid again, and eventually succumbed to her illness, but lived well up until that point.



    Nothing cheers a girl up like a little David Duchovny action.

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

    I can't really think of any stories, in particular. I have a rude EE chicken named Lucille that barges in the door any time it's open, sprints into the kitchen to scour the floor for any scraps, and makes sure that the cats have cleaned their bowls. The same rude chicken tears egg shells out of the garden bucket on the deck and tosses them about. She does this every day. Hopefully one day I can top having a rude chicken.

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

    Other animals... Has anyone ever NOT had a mountain of other critters? I am no exception. I have two dogs, a nine and a half year old Doberman mix named Lou, and pup named Cricket that I've had for about a month now. He's a Texas street dog, but he looks and acts a lot like a Carolina dog. Best guess is he's around nine months old.
    I have two cats. Ranger Danger, who will be seventeen this summer, and Chalmers, who is turning eleven this April. They are fat and worthless. Definitely not pulling their weight in the feed to productivity ratio.
    I have two pet KuneKune pigs that are a real hoot. The whole neighborhood loves them. They are the sweetest girls ever. Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight and Cookie. They are both turning four this year.
    I have a Holland Lop bunny that lives in my greenhouse named Nibbler. He is currently living with three pullets and thinks he is a chicken now.
    Truth be told, while I love chickens, I may love ducks even more. I have eleven standard ducks, and three call ducks. We are hatching more this spring. Ducklings are just the cutest things ever... for about two weeks.
    We are also adding Nubians to our little farm this year! Our kids are ready in just a couple weeks. Two doelings and a wether. I've been waiting five years for this so I'm super excited!

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    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    I just want to say what a great community this is. I can't tell you all how much I've learned and how valuable I consider so many of you. This place is an amazing resource for not only advice, but people. You know who you are, weirdos.


    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
  2. PouleChick

    PouleChick Crowing

    Apr 6, 2016
    SW France
    Thanks for sharing your stories! Lovely pics and menagerie you have!
  3. 007Sean

    007Sean Addict

    Oct 25, 2015
    South Central Texas
    Wonderful interview, Brenna! Loved the story and the pics. And your right about the 'free' labour. I always said my parents had all us kids, so they would have a built-in work force. :lau
    Thanks for sharing your story with us.
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Wonderful interview and photos! Thank you for sharing:)
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Great stories, so well told, and great pics!!

    Tried to read some of your posts and can't find them<scratcheshead>
  6. CrazyCrttr75

    CrazyCrttr75 Crowing

    Apr 21, 2018
    Robertson County, TN
    What a great interview! :woot I love hearing more about you and your life and seeing all of the awesome pics. :caf
  7. N F C

    N F C Poo happens, move on

    Dec 12, 2013
    Thank you for such a fun interview, I really enjoyed reading about your childhood memories. Good times!
  8. staceyj

    staceyj Enabler

    Jan 1, 2017
    Coastal NC
    My Coop
    Om Gee!
    When I come back around, I want to be you, gurl. Your personal story is fantastic.
    Your parents are to be worshiped. Your dad looks like Sam Elliot! Closet X-files fan here too, loved the photos, and my heart broke when the house burned down. That happened to my parent too, before I was born.
    That’s a blow that takes a lifetime to recover from.

    It’s great to have you here.
    Thank you for sharing.
  9. WVduckchick

    WVduckchick For The Birds!

    Feb 9, 2015
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Love it! :bow
    Fabulous interview Brenna! You are an awesome storyteller and a hoot to have on BYC! Love all the pics and memories. Thank you for sharing!
  10. Brahmachicken240

    Brahmachicken240 Free Ranging

    Dec 26, 2018
    Great interview and pics!
    you’ve got some stunning birds.

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