Backyard chickens, farm school, and more

Have you ever have considered raising your own chickens or other poultry, for eggs or meat? For years, many people have been raising backyard birds—just a few, or a sizable flock—because that way, they can be sure what the animals eat (good, clean, and fair food for them, too!), how the animals live (running and pecking around the yard, truly free-ranging), and how fresh the food is (like, eggs harvested just this morning).

Joseph Marquette and Robert Gibson of Yellow House Farm in Barrington are wonderful local resources of all things related to heritage poultry husbandry. They are friendly faces at Seacoast farmers’ markets, not to mention active planners and participants in Barrington Farm Day and the NH Natural Heritage and Agricultural Fair. And they aren’t selfish about sharing what they know, either! For example, at Slow Food Seacoast’s 3rd Annual Down-on-the-Farm Picnic (held July  12, 2009, at Osprey Cove Organic Farm in Madbury), Joe graciously shared his time and knowledge with a rapt circle of listeners. He talked about the history of domesticated poultry and explained why preserving old-fashioned heritage poultry breeds is important.

If you are ready to raise your own laying hens or broiler chickens, Yellow House Farm can help. They currently are accepting orders for Ancona and White Dorking chicks.  Learn more about these two heritage breeds and how to order Day-Old Hatchlings on their website.

In 2009, Joe and Rob launched Yellow House Farm School (a.k.a. Chicken School) with great success, and the spring 2010 seminar schedule has been announced. One-day seminars that cover choosing, raising, managing, and marketing heritage poultry will be held on Saturdays, 9 am–4 pm, biweekly from March 6 through May 29, 2010. Each 1-day class is limited to only 10 participants, so learn more about the Homesteading Heritage Poultry class and calendar online, then follow instructions there to register—as soon as possible to guarantee your spot. The cost of the 1-day seminar is $45.00.