BYC Member Interview - Lady of McCamley

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

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

    1. Tell us a bit more about yourself. (Family, hobbies, whatever personal stuff you feel like sharing)

    I was born into a retired farm family. My paternal grandparents and older father raised me (he'd had me later in life). My Momma, being younger, didn't care for the life and left me with Dad's grandparents while I was quite young (in the mid 1960's).

    My grandparents were depression era farmers from the Dakotas. After losing the family farm to the bank and the dust bowl, during the 1930's they traveled to Oklahoma, then Arizona like many other folk looking for a living.

    My grandmother brought chickens along in a small Conestoga type wagon which they used to haul their stuff from one location to the next. Gram (as I called her) always had had a love of chickens and a dream of owning a chicken farm one day. The rest of her family, mostly Grandpa who didn't like chickens, laughed at her for it.

    While traveling, they let the chickens out at the day's end to forage, then roost under the wagon for evening, to load them back up into the tail gate to travel another day. The hens would even give them an egg or two along the way. I've no idea what breeds they took other than scrappy farm hens. My daddy walked behind the back of the wagon with his older brother driving the 2 cows they'd manage to keep. His sister and Gram sat driving one wagon. Grandpa, driving another, led the way. I actually have a photo of them from the Denver Post as they made quite a old fashioned wagon train driving through Denver on the way from South Dakota to Oklahoma (look on a map, it makes sense). The reporter thought it was a flash back to the pioneer days, so snapped a pic and wrote a short article entitled "The Old West Isn't Dead and Gone." My Aunt years later went back and found a copy which she shared with the whole family. Unfortunately the chickens were photo shy, so I don't have a pic of them.

    My family name is Rosser, and first pic is the 1936 Rosser wagon train to Oklahoma....attached from scan into jpeg...taken from the archives of the Denver Post.

    Rosser Denver Post jpeg.jpg

    I remember Gram had a big chicken house with wired runs to keep the coyotes out. She weighed, candled and washed eggs in the back of the house. She also had an out building that every spring she would fill with the newly purchased chicks that came directly to the farm on a truck. I still remember the building loud with cheeps of cute, fuzzy yellow chicks running around under a row of heat lamps.

    Because of Gram I learned how to gut a chicken before I learned how to read. As I grew old enough to wield a knife, she taught me how to joint a chicken for frying up for supper.

    She pressure cooked old hens and fried the young cocks. It was Grandpa's job to round up the bird for dinner with the greeting axe. His hands shook from age, so sometimes the bird escaped after leaving it's head on the block, running around crazy like. Plucking was scaulding hot water and a whole lot of pulling on wet stinky feathers. Plucking was my least favorite chore. I still have vivid memories of Grandma's chicken farm.

    1st thumbnail, Grandma's chicken shed, pretty sure. All the outbuildings and house looked similar, but I remember the chicken shed was set aside and much smaller. This is before the fencing went up when the shed was first built.

    Grandma's Chicken Shed.jpg

    Oklahoma, and the sod house, didn't bring the promised prosperity, so they pushed onward to Arizona. (Grandma hated the sod house...she said "you cain't keep nuthin' clean in 'em.) They sold all their belongings, including the chickens, and loaded up on a Model T with another family. Gram cried as the chickens were sold off.

    Settling in Arizona, after following essentially the "Grapes of Wrath" path, the family picked cotton until they found a small homestead on old Indian reservation land...a log cabin with no running water, and an outhouse. Over time, the desert soil simply played out, so Grandpa became a post master in a nearby city. Eventually they earned enough so grandma got her dream chicken ranch for her "early retirement"...which is when I come into the picture...being sent there to live as daddy made a living. My daddy was a cowboy who "rode range"...he always said "cowboyin' is somethun' you do when you cain't do nuthin' else." He also said "cowboys is born and not made." He'd left home at 16 to follow the range. He always felt he was born about 50 years too late. His heart belonged to the Old West. He eventually did settle and kept a small "gentleman's" ranch in Oregon. There he made a living as a self-employed horse-shoer (which is when the grandparents and I joined him in the late 60's).

    A cowboy.jpg
    Daddy doing what he did best....

    Daddy Shoeing.jpg
    Daddy shoeing

    In Arizona, my early childhood was spent with cranky White Leghorn gals snapping at me over eggs (I hated that!) and wearing feed sack short sets. Back then, the feed grain was placed in pretty muslin cloth print sacks. The women folk would recycle the feed bags for family clothing. My grandmother almost cried when the feed companies went to burlap in the mid-60's. I was thankful her Scotch nature didn't make me wear the burlap sacks! It was always a little awkward standing in the feed store matching the chicken sacks, but burlap was too much! I still have some of that muslin cloth somewhere in old quilts and scraps. You can't find that muslin quality today. Fine weave, soft, pliable, strong, thick. Good stuff!

    I clipped this off a flour sack/feed sack memorabilia website. I remember a lot of these patterns.

    Tammy in feed sack play clothes.jpg
    I am the little girl on the left (the blonde) wearing feed sack play clothes. :D

    Golden feed store dress.jpg
    Another feed sack dress. I remember this was a goldenrod yellow flower print.

    When we moved to Oregon to join my daddy, Gram's chicken ranch was left behind. I grew up in rural southern Oregon, with horses, a few cattle, dogs, cats, but no chickens. Grandma apparently had had her fill of chickens for awhile.

    Farming and ranching is a HARD life, and I knew, while I loved the country, I did not have the physical stamina for it, so I worked hard in high school and went to college to become a paralegal. I met and married a city dwelling "geek" who was an ex-army brat. We eventually ended up in the Portland area following jobs, and now live on old farm land turned surburbia to give us a bit of "farm" feel but yet close enough to my husband's work. We have about 1/3 acre land with an older home and newer subdivisions around us.

    After raising and homeschooling three kids, pretty much running wild and growing strong on that 1/3 acre, I now am a self-employed afterschool ESL tutor.

    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    My oldest daughter got the family farm gene with the physical stamina for it. Growing up, she kept pushing for more and more animals and livestock, which of course I was keen to indulge as we were able. We did 7 Guide Dog for the Blind puppy raising projects together, but she wanted REAL farm animals. So, about 12 years ago, thinking what livestock she could work on a small plot, I of course came back to the idea of chickens. We actually re-purposed the old, now unused kids play set into our first chicken coop. Her love did not lessen, nor did mine, and as she commuted to Veterinary Technology school, we used my flock for her studies.

    Turning the play set into our first coop project.

    saying goodbye 026.jpg
    My oldest daughter and her new husband heading to Tennessee with chickens in tow "saying good bye."

    She then graduated college, worked as a Vet Tech, met and married a farmer from Tennessee, and moved back there with him to farm. As a wedding gift, I gave them about 5 of my best hens. They traveled BACK from Oregon to Tennessee pulling a small wagon behind their truck...WITH CHICKENS inside...who yes laid an egg or two on the way. Gram would have smiled. :D

    She is now living the farm life with her hubby and small son. They are organic farmers who sell mostly vegetables but also some meat chickens. My SIL and I have fun conversations about farming and chicken raising.

    One of my older flocks.jpg
    One of my older flocks

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

    I LOVE the pretty eggs. I LOVE making my own Easter basket every morning. (And I've learned how to get the eggs without the hens pecking me! Gram you were right. Simply show no fear.) I now breed for egg color using several lines. For the darker side, I chose Barnevelder as I really love the reddish terracotta color that brings. Finding the blue genetic side was trickier for me. I could never link up with any true Amercaunas with my broody schedules, so I ended up trying Isbar (failed due to over bred genetics), then Cream Legbar (first attempt failed due to 'coons, second attempt successful). I am now breeding back several generations, refining for a full range of pink-browns, darker terra cotta, blue-green, spearmint green, olive, dark olive.

    My breeding egg chart and growing colored egg basket.

    2019 F1 and F2 OE's.jpg

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

    I love my current rooster, Barney, the Barnevelder. He is the first rooster I chose to keep. I started with feed store chicks and then hatched eggs from breeders to build my flock keeping an eye for egg color genetics, health, and temperament.

    Barnevelder rooster.jpg
    My Barnevelder rooster, who is my senior rooster.

    Then there was Oma-San, my first Silkie hen that I bought from a breeder at a swap for her proven broodiness and mothering. She taught me that chickens really do know how to hatch chicks and that I could just keep my silly hands off. Working with her, I saw the light and never artificially raised chicks again. I use broodies solely for all chick hatching now....all seasons, all weather. Working and learning over the years, I now can fully integrate chick hatching within the main flock. (Gram would have been proud.)

    Imported Photos 00001.jpg
    My first broody hen Oma San

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

    One year we moved the coop entrance from the left side, about 6 feet, to the right side, to improve walk flow. That evening, about twilight, while playing cards in the back room, we heard a thumping on the slider door. There stood a hen pecking on the back door. We opened it. She turned and began to walk to the coop. Behind her was all 12 of our hens lined up in a queue. They in unison turned to faced the coop. The lead hen walked to the front of the coop and waited. Figuring out what she wanted, we picked her up and placed her into the new entrance. ALL 11 other hens waited their turn, in queue, to be picked up and placed into the new entrance. SILLY humans. Moving the gate! What's a hen to do?

    The greatest fun is to watch my broodies with their babes. One time a broody with about 9 chicks under her decided they all needed to move from one end of the yard to the other. So, she picked up "her skirts" and little feet shuffled under her until they made it to the new spot. I nearly died laughing. It was like a scene from the Nutcracker with the Nanny.

    Broody hutch.jpg
    The broody hutch

    View inside broody hutch.jpg
    Inside the broody hutch

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

    As mentioned, I've lived and loved many pets over the years. Right now...I've got one cat who rules the house and a rescue rattie (rat terrier) who netflix surfs with me by night and chases rats by day. (He's good too...he's now in the upper 20's kill record! Good boy.)

    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    Chicken keeping has something for everyone. You can focus on growing your own organic food, if you like, or small stead sustainable living, or simply a fun hobby with pets. Chicken keeping is also educational. I like to use my chickens with my students to teach science and genetics. Chicken keeping is also therapeutic. I've struggled with bouts of fibromyalgia in my life, and those silly little beaks encourage me to get out into the fresh air and move. I get rewarded for my physical efforts with lovely little bejeweled gifts. I feel blessed by my little feathered friends for that.

    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
  2. 007Sean

    007Sean Pheasant Whisperer

    Oct 25, 2015
    South Central Texas
    Wonderful interview Tammy! Thanks for sharing your story and pics. :thumbsup
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I knew this would be a good one!!
    @Lady of McCamley you always have the best answers and your font of knowledge and grasp of language has taught me so much over the years..Thank You!

    Funny, I was just thinking about this as I emptied another plastic feed bag the other day, wishing there was a good second use for them.
  4. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Araucana enthusiast

    Mar 16, 2016
    North Central IN
    My Coop
    BEST story yet! LOVE the old pics! :thumbsup
  5. igorsMistress

    igorsMistress Crossing the Road Barefoot

    Apr 9, 2013
    Phoenix AZ
    My Coop
    It's so nice to learn more about you Tammy. I love the story about your dad and grandparents. It reminds me much of the stories my husband's grandparents shared with me, I didn't have any unfortunately. I have learned much from many of your posts as well. Thank you for sharing with us.
  6. N F C

    N F C Marbles...I found mine!

    Dec 12, 2013
    Wonderful interview Tammy! Loved reading the stories about your family and seeing the old photos.
  7. ronott1

    ronott1 A chicken will always remember the egg

    Mar 31, 2011
    Woodland, CA
    My Coop
    Very nice interview!
  8. WVduckchick

    WVduckchick For The Birds!

    Feb 9, 2015
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Awesome interview! :clap
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Perhaps the greatest interview to date, and I've read them all. Thanks for sharing the family story.
  10. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Wonderful interview! Love the history and photos! Thank you for sharing.

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