More and More Chicks in Rural Alaska!

by

Apr 16, 2010

Remember last May when Victoria received a shipment of baby chicks?

Between something delaying my chicks from getting in the mail until after our mail plane already left yesterday, bad weather this morning – snowing and fog, and then the normal airline red tape, my poor baby chicks got here about a day late.

I had 19 DOA and one more expired a bit later. I THINK I brought about 10 back from near death, won’t know for sure until tomorrow or next day.

I was reminded of this entry after reading a post over at the Tundra Chicks blog. Saima talks about a box of chicks she received awhile back from Triple D Farms which piqued my curiosity. Could something as simple as a box of baby chicks make a difference in a rural community?

Triple D Farms not only ships many breeds of chicks throughout rural Alaska, they also ship just-hatched turkeys, geese, ducks and peacocks.

According to Mother Earth News:

Right before hatching, chicks and other baby poultry absorb the last of the yolk — their food source during incubation. For most species, this last bit of yolk provides enough nutrition to sustain the baby for about three days without eating or drinking, which makes shipping chicks through the mail possible, if they arrive quickly.

And how common are chickens in rural Alaska? The Village Rural Blog at the Anchorage Daily News asked that last October and here are some comments:

thefinn_inme

wrote on 10/06/2009 08:26:39 AM:

(snip) As for it being common, my grandmother’s sister has about 5 chickens that she keeps in a coop in the summer and her garage in the winter. I have 14. I think the Iten’s have a dozen or so in camp… Its becoming pretty common probably because of the rising grocery prices here in Kotz. The chickens that I have haven’t started laying eggs yet but they are coming on 20 weeks pretty fast and that is when they usually start to lay. I’m going to provide them with a light all winter so they can become seasoned layers by the spring. I plan on getting a couple of turkeys next spring to raise until the fall, we’ll see how that goes. Anyway I’ll try to get some pictures to you this week. Thanks for posting this.

n8vbld

wrote on 10/05/2009 03:20:21 PM:

The mayor in Grayling (on the yukon) has been raising chickens for about 6 years now. The Grayling school also started raising a different group of chickens last year. Its nice to have fresh eggs for a much cheaper price…..plus the chickens are fairly easy to care for.

iliamna09

wrote on 10/04/2009 11:19:39 PM:)

Igiugig, a small community on Lake Iliamna, has chickens too.

We heard about the last one from Vic after she returned from the sustainable gardening conference in March:

We then heard about Igiugig, in the northern part of Bristol Bay with about 60 people in the winter. This village serves a number of lodges and outside visitors in the summer. They have also been working on becoming sustainable for years in some pretty ground breaking ways.

They have a community food scraps for eggs program. Residents bring food scraps to a central location and in exchange are able to get fresh eggs from a community flock of chickens.

Chickens will never replace salmon in the kitchens of rural Alaska but their eggs could be an affordable supplement to the diets of many village residents. Flocks of chickens could translate into cash-based egg and poultry businesses as we follow the  trend to eat locally.

We would like to hear from people who raise chickens in rural Alaska and other similar climates. What areas are best suited, what are the best breeds? How would a village get started such as Igiugig did?

Additional reading

We don’t like to get political here but for people who no longer consider Sarah Palin a politician, hop over to Tundra Chicks and read about Sarah Palin, the bossy white chicken…

So here’s Sarah Palin, she’s white, she’s proud of being white, and she lets everyone know that she’s the only white momma in the chicken house!

Here you see Miss Palin snacking on her favorite treat, popcorn. If another chicken comes into eyesight of her treat she will scream and peck until they leave her pile alone. Yeah, she’s my most bossiest chicken momma yet.

Coincidentally, chicken Sarah Palin came from the very same Double D Farm that hosted the real Sarah Palin’s Turkey pardoning.

~ Jane

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11 Responses to “More and More Chicks in Rural Alaska!”

  1. GreatGranny2C Says:

    Oh my! We happen to have a bossy white hen in our flock also – I do believe I shall name her Sarah! I applaud all who are working to increase chicken and egg production in Alaska. The community food scraps for eggs is a super idea! We don’t generate much garbage to pass along to our hens, and they go through lots and lots of mash. I wonder if any of my neighbors would be interested in an exchange like this. We have so many eggs (even after giving to several needy families) that we are always looking for new ways and recipes to use them all up. I’d much rather pass the surplus to others than add to our cholesterol levels.

  2. elsie09 Says:

    Hello, GreatGranny2C.

    I like reading your thoughts there, and now I’m wondering if you could say a little more about the “mash” that you feed your hens?

  3. UgaVic Says:

    GG2 –

    I thought the program was a great idea and for those who do lots of veggies scraps and other things like even old bread it is great to suppliment the mash.

    Let us know if you find takers, would love to know the outcome.

  4. anonymousbloggers Says:

    GreatGranny2C,

    Wondering where you are located.

    A neighborhood scraps for eggs exchange sounds like a win-win for you!

    I love the concept of scraps for eggs and wish more communities would embrace it.

    Jane

  5. liladyny Says:

    The thought occured to me that this organization might be a good fit for your needs. Their mission is quite simple. They give animals and poultry and training in husbandry to families and those families “pay it forward” with the products and progeny of their animals. I have been a monthly contributor for many years and am very proud of the work they do all over the world as well as the US.

    http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.201465/?msource=kwg538

    How are Heifer Projects started?
    To start, project groups contact their local country office expressing interest in becoming Project Partners. After this initial contact, Country Directors make decisions on how to respond to the request based on several factors; these include the viability (strength) and location of group, stability of the area, accessibility to Heifer staff, etc.:
    Because of limited staff in Project Countries, the group has to be reasonably close to other projects and accessible to be a feasible project site.
    The area should be relatively stable and free from war and other dangerous situations.
    The request needs to come from an established group committed to working together (not an individual) and the group must have interest in using livestock to improve lives.
    If these requirements are met, the Country Director or local Heifer staff will conduct a site visit to ensure the group has the minimum resources needed to make their project feasible (sufficient land, access to water, etc.). After the site visit, the Country Director or local Heifer staff will assist the project group in making their Project Plan.

    If approved, the group will receive appropriate training and resources to prepare for the animals before the animals are delivered. This process can take six months to two years before animals are delivered.

  6. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Liladyny –

    I had Heifer in mind when I wrote this post and considered linking to their flock of chickens page. (http://tinyurl.com/y77mfhq)

    We’re not in a position to do anything formally with them right now. We applaud their mission…

    “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

    “If you give a man a chicken, you feed him for a day. If you give a man a box of baby chicks, you feed him for a lifetime.”

    Heifer has a terrific online catalog if you’re looking for a gift for someone who has everything. http://tinyurl.com/y733gp8

    Jane

  7. thatcrowwoman Says:

    Food scraps for egg exchange…what a great idea! Thank you for sharing. I’m in Florida, so my experience with near-tropical flocks may not help you much in Alaska.

    There’s nothing quite like the feeling when the post office calls and says a box of chicks has arrived! So much potential, and such fun to see the flock take shape, different shapes and colors and personalities.

    Then plenty of eggs to share; fresh eggs with yolks so rich they’re almost orange! I remember the first time I cracked open a double-yolker…Wow! what an unexpected treat.

    Did you know that if you have all hens and no rooster(s), you still get eggs? I hadn’t really thought about it until my Littlebird started her first flock for a 4-H project many years ago, but DH Happy grew up in the country among chickens and cows, also, too, so it was a sweet father-daughter project that I witnessed with curiosity and pride. Anyway, those eggs are not potential chickens because they haven’t been fertilized. My daughter no longer eats meat, but she’ll eat hen fruit, especially when we don’t have a rooster.

    I like having a rooster around, though. I like the crowing (go figure) and the protection they provide their hens from predators. And I like raising a second generation flock when hens go broody. We have plenty of room, so our chickens have free-range of the back half-acre during the day, and roost at night in a hen-house Happy made for them way back when. We supplement with “layer pellets” from a local feed and seed place.

    We are between flocks right now, though, trying to solve a predator problem. One clever old mean raccoon of death in particular keeps finding or making ways into the henhouse. We’ve been trying to trap her for months now, but she’s very wary and elusive. We keep repairing and reinforcing. (I’m also quietly lobbying for a dog…it’s been more than 20 years since JoJo the Wonderbeast headed for the rainbow bridge…he would’ve protected the flock from that blasted raccoon!)

    Oh, my, how I’ve rambled on. I’ll look forward to hearing more about your chicken project, especially about how the schools are involved. I love those school/community connections.

  8. Micheal Says:

    hiya kids! has anyone up there considered raising rabbits? i live in AZ and as a kid we had a rabbit farm. raised them for meat and for the fur.

  9. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Wondering if rabbit farming is feasible in the bush. Is anyone doing it?

    Judging from the variety of very furry rabbits at our county fair in S, Florida, there must be breeds of rabbits that thrive in cold climates.

    Let us know,
    Jane

  10. Jim Says:

    Jane:

    I’m not into hunting anymore, but about 30 years ago I blasted Alaska hare and ate them. They go on 7 year cycles– every 7 years they’re all over the place; then they eat all the food and die off– but when they’re around you can’t miss them. If you live in the woods and look outside your window, one or several will be there if they’re at the top of their habitat cycle.

    For some reason I’m more sympathetic to lynx than arctic hare– when the hare die, then the lynx die too. Lynx eat hare. Their population cycles follow hare by a year or so. Lynx depend on hare.

    “Bunnies” (and willow trees, muskoxen, wolves, and grass) live wherever there is fertile ground that thaws in the summer– take a look at your globe and see where Ellesmere Island is in arctic Canada. You’ll notice it is at the top of the globe, a bit south of the north pole, across the channel from northern Greenland, far north of anywhere in Alaska including Point Barrow. A favorite Arctic wolf food there is Tundra Hare. I saw wolves easily kill them and eat them. Tundra hare have very long legs. They’re unique– their legs put their bodies up high in the air. They tear across the tundra and after every 10 strides or so they hop up a couple times on their hind legs and stick their heads up to see if any predators are bearing down on them. They can really move.

    Well-adapted bunnies can live anywhere in the North. All they need,( like caribou, grass, willow trees, and muskoxen), is non-glaciated fertile ground that thaws for a few weeks in summer. Bunnies are an indigenous arctic species. They have been here for eons.

  11. GreatGranny2C Says:

    Morning All – So far behind on my reading and responding – where do the hours go? So I’ll try to answer the questions directed my way.

    First off, we are located in southwestern KY, and with a relatively mild climate through the winter, we still continue to get a good supply of eggs. We have 40 something layers and get about 2 dozen eggs per day (more than enough for our needs and to give away) in the winter months, so we don’t bother leaving a light on to extend the daylight hours for more laying. Once is starts to warm up and longer hours of sunlight, we get an egg from nearly every hen each day.

    The laying mash is a standard prepared mix that we buy from the local co-op. A 100# bag is around $15 and we go through a couple of sacks per month. We supplement with any/all table scraps (including egg shells), grass clippings, etc. We find the eggs are so much richer tasting and bright orange in color. I know that we have a variety of breeds as our son-in-law is notorious for picking up a few more layers here and there at flea markets. There are big and small ones, eggs of each shade of brown, along with some white, and lots of sizes. We only have the one big white hen and I’m now calling her Miz Sarah.

    We ended up with a second rooster so rather than have illegal cock-fighting in our pen, we let one of them and a few hens roam free. They help to keep some of the tics away and are great at weeding the gardens and flower beds – just kidding on that – I want to ring a few necks when they get into my flowers. We occasional have one of the free-ranging hens sit on a clutch so we end up with a few more babies every so often and if they make it free from owls or other night critters, they get put into the pen.

    I find it amazing how many people think they don’t like farm fresh eggs. Excuses include “but they eat GARBAGE and BUGS!” to “what if there is a baby chick in there?”. Once they realize how tastier the eggs are and see how clean the coop is kept, and knowing they are fresh daily (as opposed to sitting how long in stores), they usually change their opinion.
    Prices are fairly low around here. There is a local commercial grower so a dozen and a half of eggs are under $1.00.

    I don’t know if I could find enough people interested in a swap of their food scraps for eggs, so I doubt we’ll even try. We are more than happy to just give away our suprlus to any who can use the eggs.

    For those new to using farm-fresh eggs, the shells are softer and it is quite hard to do a clean peel, such as one wants for deviled eggs. I’ve found that cooking for 18-20 minutes once a hard boil is reached, then immediately set the pan under cold running water until they are completely cool, then cracking the entire shell all the way around by rubbing it on a hard surface, makes it much easier to get the shell off cleanly.

    We’ve experimented with many pickling recipes and our favorite is to use a gallon container, add a quart jar of banana peppers, put in about a dozen eggs, then fill to the top with white vinegar. Let them set about a week for the best flavor. Then take them out and put into a plastic container and they’ll hold for at least another week. Leaving them in the brine much longer than a week makes them almost too strong to consume.

    I grew up with chickens around the home place, we had about 20 years of travelling the world as an Army family and missed the fresh eggs, so once we retired we knew we had to have a place big enough to once again have a flock, and have had so for these last 23 years.

    The one thing I’ve never been able to do is eat them. No problem eating chicken from a store or restaurant, but I just can’t bring myself to put our own on the table. We also tried raising our own beef when we settled here – even giving them names such as Arby, Dairy Q, Big Mac, etc….. but when it came time for the slaughterhouse, we couldn’t do it!

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