BYC Member Interview - NotAFarm

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Mary, known to BYC members as NotAFarm, has been a member of our community since May 2009. Another of our wonderful all-rounders, she is a true BYC Friend.

    1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

    I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother and grandmother that lives with my husband, of almost 25 years, on 4 acres in rural Lee County, Illinois. We both were previously married and each have three children from those marriages, four sons and two daughters. We have six grandchildren, four boys and two girls. Pictured below are the six children, my son-in-law, my husband and me at my daughter's wedding in 2008 (the last time we had all six together for a picture with us and thought this was better than posting multiple pics!).

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    My parents were both raised on farms in Nebraska. My father joined the Air Force and I was raised in urban/suburban areas in four different states and one foreign country. I always loved going back to Nebraska for vacations, and was jealous of my cousins that lived on farms because they could have all sorts of animals, drive tractors/pick up trucks at a very young age and were in 4-H! Now, I realize how hard they, and my parents, worked for what I thought were privileges. I am happy I had the opportunity to live in all the places I did, but never lost the desire to live "out in the country".
    When my DH and I were looking to move from the Chicagoland suburbs (late '90s), I wanted lots of land. My DH, a suburbanite through and through, agreed to a small acreage. We built our house ourselves, with some professional help for things like the concrete slab, plumbing (we had to have a well drilled, pressure tank, outside frost-free hydrants, in slab plumbing, septic system), drywall (which is an art neither of us wanted to master) and the electrical hook-ups. Our home is modest, but it just what we wanted and suits us perfectly. The picture below is of the north side of the house. The barn/shed to the left contains my chicken coop.

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    We are surrounded by shag bark hickory, various oak and some other (in my opinion "weed", in DH's opinion "if it is a tree it is good") trees.

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    There is a farm field and pasture across the road to the south. We have neighbors on both sides that are fairly close (property lines within 100 feet of the house), so we are by no means isolated. We do have the space to "breathe" that was my DH's goal and enough room for me to have large gardens, which was mine.
    Our drive faces the south and here you can see how long it is and some of the cattle that live across our the road.

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    I work 24 hours a week at our local weekly newspaper doing office/bookkeeping/whatever needs to be done work. I've been there almost 8 years and love being a part of something that is important to this rural community.

    I enjoy spending time taking care of the "critters", reading, gardening, watching Blackhawks hockey and White Sox baseball (although this year the baseball has been abysmal), attending church services and functions and spending time with our family. I would love to travel more. I would much rather be outside than inside, which can be a problem with the winters here, but I make the most of the spring, summer, fall and any winter days that allow me to be out!

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    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    When we first moved, we got two horses. I had horses when I was younger and wanted them again. It was different having horses in a climate that only allowed riding part of the year. Putting up a couple hundred bales of hay for the winter was wearing on us and the constant attention to the electric fence, from the deer running through it, was becoming aggravating. We weren't getting any younger and considered how long would we be able to keep it up. We kept them six years and then found a home that had two girls that would give them more time and attention.
    Now that the barn was available (I had heard growing up that keeping horses together with chickens could cause respiratory problems for the horses due to the dust the chickens generate so hadn't pursued them), I was considering other animals. I brought up goats or sheep, I got "This is Not A Farm" from my DH (this is where my BYC name comes from). How about chickens, I kept saying. I was insistent and he gave in to the chickens. I had wanted them for a long time and had copied pages from books and had articles from Backyard Poultry, Countryside, Mother Earth News, etc (keep in mind this was before computers). I had a file filled with ideas and information. In the spring of 2007, we built a 2-story mobile coop and I put in my order with our local grain elevator for four pullets. The elevator takes small orders from customers and combines them to meet the hatchery minimum order size. I was told which breeds were available and chose Easter Eggers (of course, they were listed as Ameraucanas in the literature, but now I know better, thanks BYC!) as my first chickens.

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    They lived inside the house in a tote with a regular incandescent bulb for heat until they were big enough to go outside. They were each so different and I loved the variety. They were quite spoiled. I got an olive egg from Audrey and blue from the others.

    I named them after actresses. Left to right, Audrey, Grace, Lana and Maureen (Mo).

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    It was Audrey's black and white plumage that sent me in the direction of Silver Laced Wyandottes. I got hatchery pullets and then a gorgeous trio from an APA breeder in Wisconsin.

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    After more research on breeding SL Wyandottes, I decided I would never be able to have the set-up required to properly breed them to meet the SOP. Needing to keep stock until they were old enough to make proper judgment on who to keep would mean too many crowing rooster for my too near neighbors. Around this same time, while doing research, I found BackyardChickens.com. I had been reading the forum for a few months before I signed-up in the fall of 2009.

    In the spring of 2010, I made the decision to get Icelandic chickens while reading @The Sheriff 's Icelandic thread. That is the only breed I have. Icelandics fit my desire to have a self-reliant, free ranging flock. I have three German New Hampshire hens (two four year olds from BYCer @kathyinmo and a two year old from that same stock) that I will have until they die. Since they lay a brown egg, I don't worry about any crossbreeding with my Icelandics. I simply don't let any of the brown eggs get incubated. I got two cockerels and two pullets from Mary in June of 2010. The only one of those four still living is Audun, my main flock rooster, pictured in the foreground below.

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

    The thing I love most about my flock is watching them free ranging. The hens teaching the chicks, the roosters working to keep the flock safe, the youngsters working out the pecking-order, the dynamics of the group and how it changes throughout the years provides me with endless entertainment.

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    I also love that my grandchildren love to visit and help feed the flock.

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    The nice approach of trying to catch one:

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    The not so nice approach:

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

    Outstanding flock members would have to be the four original Icelandics I got from Mary, because of their personalities and how they changed my thinking. I was interested in breed preservation, but the idea of keeping a gene pool preserved, as opposed to keeping specific traits preserved, was a new idea to me. It was an idea that lead to a goal that I thought was more important than just the preserving of traits that made a bird look "like it was suppose to". While breed "X" can be crossbred to acquire desirable traits (think enhanced color, or larger size, or egg color, etc), and then at some point, be considered to be breed "X", once they have all the necessary standard requirements met, this is not true of a landrace breed like Icelandics. Their gene pool is what makes them Icelandic, not certain traits they possess. Purity is the goal.

    They have provided me with years of wonderful experiences and memories. I lost Asta early this summer on a very hot day (came home from work and found her) and just recently put Anna down when she injured her wing and got a major infection (hidden by her until I found it when she became lethargic and couldn't get to the high roost). Their genes live on.

    Here are pics of each of them doing what they did/do best:

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

    Funniest thing to happen may have already slipped my mind! It might have been when Asta refused to get into the deep snow to return to the coop after a snow storm. She and the rest of the flock had followed me when shoveling around the south side of the barn. When it was time to go back to the coop, she tried to go around the north side (the favored route) that didn't have a path shoveled. She sat on the fence until I rescued her:

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

    Right now, all we have are the three barn cats. All were feral at one time. They respect the momma hens with chicks and I've never lost a chicken because of them. DH is allergic to cats so they are strictly outside cats. They keep all manner of rodents from taking over. I scold them when I find them with a bird of some sort and tell them "Fur not feathers are for food".....they don't follow the rules all the time, but they are cats after all.

    Little Brother (showed up spring of 2014, 6 months after another black and white kitten who we figured was his older sister-she has a great home now) and Sarabi (our first rescue who came from the City of Chicago pound that had her on the euthanize list because she was so unsocial) on the picnic table.

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    Cy (short for Cyclops, named by the vet techs that had to remove his infected eye, when he was brought in for neutering by the TNR, trap/neuter/return, group). He is loved by the grandkids since he will let them pick him up and tolerates their not-always-gentle handling.

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    I have to mention we I have had quail, turkeys and Muscovy ducks at different times since I joined BYC. Prior pets included fish, parakeets, a rabbit and Rusty. Our Golden Retriever, Rusty, was the best dog ever. What a sweet heart and perfect kids dog he was. I hope to someday have another dog but for now, we are waiting.

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    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    ...anything to add? I think I've gone on long enough! Just want to say how very much I've learned from everyone on BYC. The range of topics covered here is incredible and the members are some of the best people I've ever met, online or off. I have chickens in my yard from you, plants in my garden from you, books on my shelves from you, signs in my coop from you, quilted objects of art from you, a notebook full of quotations from you, and gratitude in my heart for your support of me and Kyle and his family. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives, insight and knowledge with me. I'm a better person because of all of you!

    See ya around the forums!

    Seinna (Icelandic for Later), The Other Mary

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/u/44049/notafarm


    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/905602/introducing-vip-member-interviews/0_30

     
    2 people like this.
  2. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Very Nice! Thanks for your story!
    Scott
     
  3. NotAFarm

    NotAFarm Embracing the New! Premium Member

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    Thank you for coming by to read it!
     
  4. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

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    Very nice to get to know you better [​IMG] love hearing your updates on Kyle!
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Nice pics and interview. Thanks for taking the time to do it.
     
  6. NotAFarm

    NotAFarm Embracing the New! Premium Member

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    Thanks for stopping in! [​IMG]
     
  7. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Mary :D

    What a lovely interview, I've so enjoyed reading more about you, your family and your animals :clap Fabulous pics too :D
    Thanks for sharing with us all :hugs
     
  8. getaclue

    getaclue Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Good interview! Thanks!
     
  9. N F C

    N F C just blowing in the wind Premium Member Project Manager

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    Such a nice interview Mary...loved reading about your "back to the country" move. You have some beautiful birds and your photos are wonderful! Nice getting to "meet" you after seeing you around the Quotes & Thoughts thread [​IMG]
     
  10. NotAFarm

    NotAFarm Embracing the New! Premium Member

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    Thanks! It was fun to go back through old photos to find ones that fit with my story. Spent way too much time looking through them and reminiscing, lots of fun!
     
    1 person likes this.

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