Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Good Fight

I haven't posted in awhile. Mostly because things stalled out and I didn't want to say anything to jeopardize my chances at getting these little girls a home in Norfolk. However, I think people should know how it is going.

So FIVE weeks... that is right FIVE weeks ago the city asked me for a waste management plan and the blueprint rendering of the chicken coop. I had to list the type of material I would be using (down to the gage of the wire) and what I would do with the waste water after washing their coop out. Which is really just silly as you don't wash a coop out with water. You actually strive to always have a very dry coop and use wood chips, sand, straw as an absorbent layer and just sweep that away. (into our pest proof composter) So I was a little annoyed I was being regulated by people who don't even know how to care for chickens themselves.

But I complied and sent in all my material... FIVE weeks ago. Since then I have emailed Agnes Flemming, the environmental health manager, twice a week asking how the process was coming, if she needed additional material, if she wanted a meeting, if she needed to meet the chickens. Last week when I emailed she simply replied she had made her recommendation and it was now at the health directors desk. She did this without informing me she made a decision, without us meeting, without anything. Grrr. So I have now emailed the health director twice without any emails back. Next Tuesday I am calling and if I don't get a reply I will just go in. I don't really think three chickens should actually take FIVE weeks of the city's time. It is pretty yes or no. And if there are questions I think I should be involved in mitigating those problems before recommendations are made.

The chickens are currently out at Beekeeper Franks house. They are doing well and enjoying all the space.
Moe said goodbye. He misses them a lot and always looks for them. 

Their half-way house. :( They have been moved to a big cage with a run but I wish they weren't there at all.

They were excited with the fresh air. 

The pretty yard they get to look at! 

This also seems to be how the beekeeping ban is going. They schedule a meeting about the ordinance and then cancel it without informing anyone. They were to have a meeting May 10th. I called the evening of May 9th just to confirm the room and was told, "we decided we didn't need it and will just go to public hearing in June." I wrote back how it is REALLY hard to be an involved citizen in the City of Norfolk, when the City of Norfolk has no interest in involving their citizens in any decision making process.

I often wonder what they think of me at the city. I just want to see this chicken thing get done before we move. I just want to hear their reason on WHY chickens would ever be a no. I have heard rumors of why but they are just rumors.

All I know is my babies are growing up out at Frank's and they should be home. I know the city asked for all this information and then has continually ignored me, my emails, and hasn't asked a single question since then.

I will keep you posted. I will keep fighting the good fight. The good chicken fight.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Two Months!!

I know I am a terrible blogger but let's be honest for the most part the chickens just sit there.

However, today is their TWO month birthday.

Notice the dust! They are getting so BIG and Bernadette may not be the prettiest. as she gets older. 

Eight weeks is the time when they now have all their grown-up feathers and can be moved outdoors. Brian and I have been counting down until today. Excited to get them out of the apartment. (seriously our apartment is SO dusty)

BUT... today I got a call from the city. I knew I needed a health permit but I really assumed it would be easy as I knew the health director, but now the environmental health department is involved and they need a coop rendering, a waste management plan, and a sit down meeting.

Are you serious?!

So now my chickens are moving out to a nice farmers farm for a few weeks while we get this sorted out. I just think they deserve more space, sunshine, and they need to roost. It is best for their development.

I tried to name drop all over the place this morning with the city's environmental manager. I said I was an MPH in environmental health too, I worked under Chesapeake Health Departments director, my Dad is a veterinarian, I am a farmer with lots of chicken experience but... she said nothing much and just "hmmm" She asked how I would wash their coop and I said I wouldn't as water isn't good for them and she was very concerned. I said I would use cedar chips and compost their waste in an enclosed tumbler but she didn't seem impressed.

I think this may become a painful process. Praying it is just us showing our competence and then moving forward.

Brian and I are very sad our babies have to go further out in the country and I am worried for them. Frank is a great guy though and he has lots of chickens so I know they will be safe.

My poor babies. :( I'll miss them.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A deal is a deal....

Brian is a hands off Dad. He has yet to change their pen since the day the arrived. Every night I go and get new bedding, water, and feed. Tonight I just couldn't do it. I have been working a bagillion hours this week and was just exhausted. So I made a deal if Brian changed their box tonight he could buy a new model fire truck. To Brian model fire trucks are the VERY best things in life. It is all he ever wants for Christmas and his birthday. He usually goes to Code 3 Collectibles everyday and checks out their newest trucks. They average $90 so they are a big purchase in this house. 

So a deal is a deal and Brian was set to change their box. I thought I would take a picture to commemorate Brian's active father role. 

 Little did I know.... he is actually terrified of touching the chickens. 

So I got it all on tape:

At one point he actually had to stop and wipe the sweat away from his face. He was seriously that freaked out. But he prevailed and at the end of the chicken changing he held Betty for a picture :)

After he put her down he said he was ready to go sky diving because if he could get over holding a scary chicken.... he could do anything. 

That is what we are all about in the Walsh-Bird household. We are all about overcoming obstacles and becoming a better farmer each day ;-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flew the Coop!!

Every night I have to change the chickens cage. It used to be VERY simple and I would place them next to the brooder and they wouldn't go further than the light could shine. They stayed perfectly still until I was done and then I placed them gently back in their cage.

... but then they got BIG! Now they run and fly and poop everywhere if you let them out!

So for the past week I would keep them in their cage while I quickly took the bedding out and changed their food and water. I just worked around them and it was going well. Until tonight I walked away to rinse out their water dish and returned to see Betty.... flying the coop!

Betty is always our adventurer

So it seemed my girls had grown too big and too smart for the "quick change." I looked around until I found the next best "holding pen" 

The trash basket worked perfect!

I was worried they wouldn't fit, but I then remembered factory farming. I thought they would be more thankful for their  plush lifestyle after the basket experiment.

My babies are getting SO big! Sometimes I get sad realizing we will most likely have moved before they ever lay their first egg. But I know they will be in good hands at the farm market. 
The Three Girls

I also found a few pictures from a couple weeks ago. They are MUCH bigger now but the pictures turned out so cute.  A look back.....

A chicken model in the making

Poor Bernie. She is just a wallflower


Monday, April 11, 2011

What I have learned....

Since moving to the city and joining this whole "local food movement" and starting to see both the city, granola crunching side, all while having my family's background and talking to my brother everyday and hearing his struggles. All I can say is Dwight said it best.

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." ~ Dwight D Eisenhower

I pray I never ever forget that in all my work and throughout my career. 

Time and Chickens FLY!

So sorry I have lapsed in my chicken updates. Life has been hectic since Brian learned of his discharge! Last week Brian went to DC and Annapolis for job fairs. He is taking his time in the decision and we are really thinking about where to move! Life was much easier when the Navy said where to go.
I was offered a job in DC working with minority farmers. When I called to turn them down because of timing issues they offered it to me long distance until we figure out if/when we are moving! If we don't move to DC I can turn it down with no hard feelings but for now they need help on a certain project. Awesome!

But enough about us, you really just care about those chickens.

Bernadette, Martha, and Betty are getting TOO big! We are both very ready to have them out of the apartment and at the market. Brian is now frantically working to get a coop built within the next two weeks and get them out. They start to smell a little by the end of the day, so we are changing their cage twice a day and they are SUPER dusty and our house has a blanket of chicken food dust everywhere.
Next time we get chickens they will live in a mudroom or a garage for sure!! This one time experiment is enough. I remember growing up and always having abandoned lambs in our kitchen during the winter lambing season. I always was so embarrassed at our level of redneck and now I am an adult redneck in the city. But they are still very quiet and cute to watch.

We got a video of them attempting to fly. They get better everyday. They HATE the laser pointer Moe plays with and so inhumanely we scared them with it so they would fly on video.

Bernie is still the very best at it. She is still super scared of her own shadow and when you change their box she just about has a heart attack each time. Betty and Martha walk right up and let you pet them and they will follow you around.

Hopefully we will get lots more pictures up this week of us building a chicken coop!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Three Weeks!!

Another week and our girls are GROWING fast! 

I haven't blogged as much after the SURPRISE news Brian will be leaving the Navy this summer! While not totally expected it was Brian's final choice to leave and we are VERY excited as to where life is taking us and never worrying about deployments again. Brian's baby chicks would be SO sad to see him go!! Needless to say this week has been a little hectic as we try to get ready for our next chapter. 

Betty, Martha, and Bernadette had a big week too. All three have figured out they have wings and spend a lot of their time "flying" or scaring each other as they spread their wings flap and then fall over. We have had "free range" nights in the apartment where we let them out and watch them "fly" across the living room! It is pretty hysterical and they seem to take turns and watch each other go. Bernie is definitely the best and she just flaps her wings all the time. However, it is becoming more and more apparent she is going to be SO much smaller than the other two. They keep growing and she keeps getting puffier.  Our goal this week is to get video of them flying. 

The girls have also had a lot of visitors. I invited a few Mom's over with their kids yesterday. Little 22 month old Hazel kept laughing and laughing as they flew. She spent a long time "talking" to them and having her Mom pet them as she was a little unsure about doing it herself. The Euans children came in a pack of 3 and I think our 3 little hens weren't sure what to do!!! It was their first visit from a boy and they are a little more loud and excited than girls. They really flapped their wings and ran around crazy. They kept pooping and the kids would let me know each and every time screaming "ewwwwww!!!" However, the eldest Euans child explained to me how the chicks would grow to be hens and lay brown eggs! I was pretty impressed when I know grown adults who don't even know that much!!

Brian's job this weekend is to really get cracking on the coop. He has the next 12 days off and needs to really start working hard or they will not have a home soon! We are thinking of using an old dog house and converting it to a chicken coop. 

Hope you all have a great week and are still thinking about getting yourself some chicks. :)