BYC Member Interview - redsoxs

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Jer, known to BYC members as redsoxs, has been a wonderful member of our community since July 2011. He will most often be found in the New Member Introductions section, welcoming and helping new members of our community.

    1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

    Where to begin...Well, my real name is Jer and I live in North Central Kansas with my wonderful and patient wife, Karen. I have lived in the Sunflower State for 46 of my 52 years and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. My wife is from Montana and she doesn't quite share my appreciation of Kansas...something about hot humid summers, no mountains, and not enough snow. Additionally, I have always lived in the country and hope that never changes.

    A quick word about my username...redsoxs. I am not necessarily a Boston Redsox fan nor a non-fan. The name was a computer generated password from an old account I used to have and it's what I chose to use when I joined BYC. Mystery solved!

    My parents were originally from North Dakota and my father was in the military, serving in both the Korea and Vietnam Wars. His last posting was in Kansas which is how it became home for me. Moving here from New Mexico when I was six was like winning the lottery. We moved to an old house in the country with wildlife everywhere. Best of all it was about a two minute walk from the largest lake in Kansas. So, my early years of experiencing the outdoor life completely shaped the kind of lifestyle I maintain to this day. My early years were gardening, fishing, and hunting. I was blessed to have an elderly couple, Claude and Maude, as neighbors who lived a half mile away. They became kind of like surrogate grandparents for me and under their tutelage began an understanding and appreciation of gardening and farm life. And it was through them that I had my first introduction to chickens! More on that in a moment.

    I graduated my local high school with no firm grasp of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I worked in various jobs but found nothing that appealed to me. After a few years with nothing to show for it and no future prospects, I enrolled in college. Unfortunately, my college plan was as undefined as my plans after high school. So, I drifted through various majors, finding most of them interesting but not motivating enough to see it through to a degree. On a lark I decided to take an elementary education course. This decision launched me on my career path as something clicked and I knew this was the field for me. After graduation I thought obtaining a teaching job would be a snap. Wrong again. My area experienced an economic downturn as a nearby military base went through troop reduction. This has a huge impact on local economies, including schools. Thus, no teaching jobs were to be had at that time. To pay the bills I began to be a substitute teacher and finally I worked as an assistant in a high school special education classroom for students with behavior issues. I took a couple more college courses and was hired as a special education teacher and did this for several years. After completing a degree in Special Education I began work on and completed a degree in School Counseling and have been an elementary school guidance counselor for the last 18 years. One of my primary objectives is to get kids at an early age to start thinking about their futures...something I had neglected to do. I love my career but I also love to get away from it, so my life is a perfect blend of what I like to do: working with kids and helping them through tough issues and planning their careers, and then leaving it and working on my little "farm."

    My hobbies are hunting, fishing, gardening, cooking, and with the help of my wife, more recently, self-sufficiency. We are not yet where we want to be in that regard but inching closer. In addition to chickens we raise guineas, turkeys, ducks, geese, and pigs. We process all of our own meat ourselves including making sausage and curing and smoking our own ham and bacon. Deer from hunting, fish from the lake and what we raise has enabled us to not have to purchase meat in years. Additionally we can and preserve extensively from our garden. We will add bees soon and one day goats for milk. Karen is an avid and very skilled knitter and wants to eventually branch into sheep for shearing, spinning the fibers into wool and making her own yarn. For us, what we do on our farm is more hobby than trying to be off the grid but it is a labor of love and a feeling of security should the zombies ever attack!

    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    I mentioned my "grandparents," Maude and Claude, earlier. They are to be credited with kindling my interest in chickens. Every spring was looked upon in anticipation as their order of 100 straight run baby chicks arrived from the local grain elevator. The breed was White Rock. The pullets were destined for the hen house, the cockerels for the skillet. And with her ancient electric skillet, no one has ever made fried chicken like Maude. It was the best! She's been gone for 30 years but I can still taste her fried chicken. Anyway, I was part of the entire process helping them with their chickens from start to finish. I raised a flock for a couple years myself as a kid. After the passing of Maude and Claude there was a long gap before I would be back in the chicken biz again.

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

    My favorite aspect of chicken keeping is observing the different colors and personalities of the birds. When I got back into chickens about 10 years ago, it was mainly meat birds as I was still on the quest of the fried chicken of my youth. I got into egg layers about 6-7 years ago. Since then I have always had a very diverse flock. In fact, one of my first ever posts on BYC was a picture from my first flock asking the gender of my birds that I purchased from a local farm and ranch store. Okay, time for full disclosure.... here's how little I knew...looking back I shake my head how naive I was. After a few years of meat birds, my first chicken purchase was the dreaded "Frypan Special." I knew the assortment likely contained "baby roosters." I hadn't realized that was the purpose of the Frypan sell otherwise unwanted male chicks! So I posted the pic and got friendly BYC responses, all saying, "cockerel"....which I had to look up! Well, thanks to BYC and its vast collection of information, I'd like to think I have learned a few things since then!! But, I still shy away offering my opinions on the What Breed or Gender is This Forum. When it comes to that forum, my guesses are like a monkey with a never know what you'll get!

    Anyway, I love seeing chickens of all shapes and sizes pecking and scratching around the yard. My favorite breed changes but I really like Speckled Sussex, Red Stars, Delawares, and Naked Necks.

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

    I have had a chicken or two I really have liked and appreciated over the years. A Delaware named Delli (how original) would always jump up on lap while I was watching chicken T.V. She pecked me in the eye once which was memorable but not as fun. My Naked Necks, Red Stars, and Sussex always come running whenever I'm outside expecting a handout. They like...or at least tolerate being picked up and held and will jump up on my back when I'm on all fours weeding in the garden.

    My favorite chicken is still alive - she's an Ancona named Bitty (another original name!). I swear she has multiple personalities. In the same day she can be friendly, frightened, or ferocious. You can pick her and she will cluck and purr contentedly. Come back in an hour and she will run like your are chasing her with an axe. Later in the day you might reach to pick her and since she didn't run you assume she's friendly again. No, she's just lulling me so I'll reach in and when I do it's then she will peck me hard enough to draw blood. She is also the noisiest hen...bossing and directing traffic at the other girls...clearly the lead hen. She probably hasn't layed an egg in years but I just like having her around.

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

    Last year I had a couple Red Stars that loved to hang out in the pig pen. Pigs being pigs aren't the neatest eaters and these two hens knew where to get an easy meal, scratching through garden and kitchen scraps tossed to the pigs. At first I thought the two pigs, named Waffles and Flapjack, would grab the chickens and eat them! But they didn't seem to mind them hanging around the pig pen. One day I look out the window and the two Red Stars are on one of the pig's backs looking like they were roosting. No idea why - maybe just to get a better view? And the pig seemed to like the free back scratching! On a few nights last summer, one of those two Red Stars would spend hot, windless, and humid nights sleeping in the pig hut with Waffles and Flapjack! Maybe she liked them or maybe it was just cooler in there than in the henhouse! Kind of a symbiotic thing...."I'll scratch your back, you let me stay at your place?"

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

    We also have two dogs, the chocolate lab that is my avatar, named Churchill, and a golden retireiver named Joplin. Joplin is a certified therapy dog that I use in my work with students. There are also a fair number of cats running around. All of our pets are socialized to the farm critters and we've never had a bad interaction between them. Except the geese who harass the dogs and everyone else!

    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    Lastly, I'd like to thank all the fine folks of BYC. It is just an awesome assemblage of friendly and knowledgeable people. I am sure 99% of the advice I dispense on BYC is information I have learned on BYC. Because members made me feel welcome, pointing me in the right direction, assisting me in navigating the site, and just being friendly, I tend to spend a lot of my BYC time trying to return that kindness. This is why I hang out in the New Members Introduction Forum. I want to give newbies the same treatment I received when I joined! Thank you, BYC














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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  2. CuzChickens

    CuzChickens CountryChick

    Apr 24, 2016
    You are awesome, Jer! Thanks for being such a great member!
  3. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    Wonderful interview Jer! After seeing so much of you on the New Member forum, it's great to finally learn more about you. Thank you for being so welcoming to the newbies. And thank you for your hard work with kids that need it.

    You're a real asset to BYC and as we say to the new members...thanks for joining us!
  4. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2013
    Great Interview!!!
    so nice to meet you and get to know you better, love the stories too!
  5. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    What a wonderful interview Jer! It's been great getting to know more about you and your animals. Bitty sounds quite a character and your Red Stars sure were brave!

    Thanks for sharing with us all :highfive:
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Wow you sure are and interesting person!! Very well rounded in life. Sometimes not knowing where you are going as a young person, leads you on some wonderful journeys you might not get too if you previously had a plan. [​IMG]

    Loved all your stories and I always wondered about your screen name "redsoxs". Thank you for clearing that up!! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  7. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Jere so glad you came back to BYC. I keep an eye on your post count and am very proud how much it has risen since you are back in full swing. We have all learned a great from BYC but, the common SENSE advice you dispense in your posts, is all YOURS. Congratulations on a great interview .[​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Jer, 'a day late and a dollar short' on getting here to say a great interview/life story. It takes some of us longer than others to figure out our purpose. I tell my grandkids, "Get educated. your purpose will eventually find you." It sounds as if you have a great balance in your life. Congratulations !
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Ham 'n' doesn't get any better! Great interview, Jer..and great to finally meet you!

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