BYC Member Interview - rjohns39

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Tipperary, Ireland
    Bob, known to BYC members as rjohns39, has been a member of our community since August, 2015. Another of our wonderful all rounders, he is known for his friendliness and good advice.

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

    I was born and raised in NW Indiana where my Grandparents, Parents, and Neighbors all had gardens. I learned to cook by the time I was seven. Mom taught me to pick a chicken that was between 3 and 3 1/2 pounds since smaller were too small to feed us and larger were tough. Back then they didn’t have cut-up chickens for sale, but you could ask the butcher and he’d cut it up for you. My Grandmother, Mom and I all took cooking lessons from Grandma’s neighbor who was from Sicily. Her basic tenants were simple: EVERYTHING fresh or canned by you. Meats always ground or broken down by you and purchased from someone you knew. I’ve continued my culinary journey ever since. I love to cook and I love to eat. I’m still learning to bake.

    While home on college break, my friend and I crashed a high school graduation party. We were there to pick-up the guest of honor’s brother to hit the town—but to a couple of college students, free food, lots of girls and some adult beverages; well town would have to wait. Someone suggested that since we were strangers we should toss the guest of honor into the neighbor’s pool. With both Mom and Neighbor’s approvals, we carried her down the alley, over the fence and tossed her into the pool and then I carried her home. A week or so later she agreed to go out with me and a few months later she said yes again. We’ve been happily married for 38 years. We have two children and eight grandkids ranging in age from 22 months to 18 years.


    Upon our return from our honeymoon, I was laid off and found myself cooking in restaurants to survive. It was time for a change so we enlisted in the Air Force. We got to see the world. We’ve lived in many states and Germany, Korea, Spain, Japan and Riyadh Saudi Arabia. And from those locations we’ve seen most of the rest of the world, except for Australia (still want to go). Throughout our travels I’ve tried to learn local cuisine and cooking methods. We got caught up in a force draw down after the first Gulf War and took an early retirement. Since I’ve spent my time as a Government contractor living in Northern VA and working in the DC metro area. We knew we didn’t want to retire in VA, but had no clue where we wanted to retire. We spent about 10 years checking out different places without success. Then in 2013, we visited friends in Tennessee and fell in love with the area. We came back a couple years later with a mortgage pre-approval letter in hand and started looking. We found our farm in April and closed on June 1st,, 2015. All we had to do is get the house in VA fixed up and on the market. We were a renovation crew of two. We had the house on the market for three days before it sold and we made our final trip to Tennessee arriving on July 2, 2016.

    While in Saudi, I came across a book in our compound library that was written in the 18th century as a survival guide to American settlers. I got hooked, so along with my culinary journey I dug deep into home preservation and learning how people kept food prior to refrigeration and electricity. I kept developing my gardening skills (they’re still pretty weak) and tinkered with a lot of different methods. I love being able to look at the dinner table and tic off what came from our farm.

    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    I started with poultry because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to do. My goal is to grow as much of our food as possible and have it pay for itself. Along the way I read Joel Salatin’s “Pastured Poultry Profit$” and got hooked. I’ve now read everything he’s written. I visited his farm several times looking at his operation and thinking about how I could replicate it. So in July of 2016 I bought 9 chickens from @cree57i and started my chicken adventure. 7 IL Leghorns and two mutts, mostly Moran we think. I ordered 25 heritage turkeys, 25 Rouens, 25 Delawares, and 150 CX from McMurray hatchery and I got four beautiful drakes [email protected] We got 140 of the CX and some extra drakes, Toms and cockerels to the freezer camp. CXs alone weighed in at 820 pounds not counting the giblets and feet. We also got 180 quarts of stock from them. Since we’ve added Rose Comb Rhode Island White’s and Barred Hollands and hatched a bunch from our existing stock. We’re hoping to add cotton patch geese this spring.

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

    I think all of it—but chicken (aka Poultry) TV is the best. Their antics are wonderful to watch, hatching new birds, who wouldn’t love that. Even with Great professional equipment, processing is still a lot of hard work and can be emotionally draining. Feed is another challenge. I’m very picky about what my birds get to eat and have had to learn feed to get what I want. I’m a huge fan of Fertrell products because I’ve gotten to know them and their suppliers. I also have times (breeding season) when I need small amounts of specialized feed to enhance hatch rates and health of the new chicks. For that time of year, I’ll buy a ton of base feed and then add things to it to achieve the appropriate mixes. I try to use the Sustainable Poultry Network guidelines for feeding my birds.

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

    My black turkey hen was a lapper. She and one of the Nari hens would fly out of the pasture to meet us when we headed their way. I was convinced one day they’d learn to land in the bed of the gator, but instead they landed behind it and would follow us up the path. They supervised every build in the pasture. Then there’s a couple of my RIW hens that are too affectionate and like to perch on my shoulders.


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

    I was in the process of untying the fence so I could move it and open up some more pasture for the birds. That bottom tie that get hung up in the mud is always fun. So on my hands and knees working it I get a peck on the top of my head and like a dummy I look up just in time to get pecked in the eye. It wasn’t particularly funny at the time, but in hindsight she wasn’t trying to hurt me, but was just trying to get my attention. After all I had been there for a few minutes and hadn’t petted her yet.

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

    We have chickens, ducks and turkeys. Sadly my Avatar passed in September, so no more pets. We also have Ham and Bacon, the only two named animals here. They are potbelly pigs.

    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    I am trying to build a sustainable farm, rearing endangered species on clean food. My goal remains to feed the family and generate revenue from the farm to pay for it. On BYC I love meeting new members and reading their stories. It’s amazing how many people have started this wacky, but so enjoyable journey.

    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
  2. ronott1

    ronott1 A chicken will always remember the egg

    Mar 31, 2011
    Woodland, CA
    My Coop
    Great interview!

    It is nice to learn more about you Bob!
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Enlightened

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
  4. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    Jan 30, 2015
    Great interview, Bob :thumbsup
  5. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Pullarius

    Aug 1, 2015
    My Coop
    At long last! Fantastic interview, but you forgot to add the part about you singlehandedly turning around the fate of the en dash... or almost so, anyway. :clap
  6. N F C

    N F C Oh no Mr. Bill!

    Dec 12, 2013
    So glad to see your interview Bob, very interesting stuff!

    Thank you so much for doing the interview and thank you for all you contribute to us here at BYC!
  7. Lamaremybabies

    Lamaremybabies Crowing

    Nov 2, 2015
    New England
    Amazing! What an amazing journey you've been on!
  8. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

    Jul 31, 2015
    Houston, TX
    My Coop
    Wonderful interview Bob!
    I get teary when I think of Miss. P—the avatar.
    Did I use this em dash correcly??
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  9. cree57i

    cree57i Songster

    Mar 1, 2014
    Mt. Juliet, TN
    Bob rocks! I’ve seen his operation and it was pretty incredible! Great interview.

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