Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast

Clucking Along: A Backyard Chicken Keeper’s Journey of Compassion and Connection with Courtney from Rocker Chooks

July 17, 2023 Melissa Season 3 Episode 49
Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast
Clucking Along: A Backyard Chicken Keeper’s Journey of Compassion and Connection with Courtney from Rocker Chooks
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Courtney is the content creator for The Rocker Chooks on Instagram. She was born and raised in Northern Minnesota, and currently lives there with her boyfriend and small backyard flock of big character chickens. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Communications with a Minor in Animal Science from and a Masters in Education; Youth Development Leadership. Both degrees support her professional life and personal interests. Courtney is a passionate Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension; Department of Youth Development, which leads the state 4-H program. When she’s not hanging out with her chickens, you can find her out birding or appreciating nature somehow.


Did you know that raising chickens can be a therapeutic journey filled with compassion and connection? Meet Courtney from Rocker Chooks, a passionate backyard chicken keeper, who takes us on her wonderful journey from her initial experiences with rabbits to her current devotion to chickens. Growing up with a passion for animals nurtured by 4-H, Courtney's story is an inspiring testament to the power of these experiences, including the unforgettable moment she won a special chair for her rabbits at the Minnesota State Fair.

Courtney’s insightful journey will help you grasp the intricacies of backyard chicken keeping, right from choosing the perfect breed to constructing a cozy coop. Her stories of naming her chickens and letting them free-range on her sprawling seven acres are bound to leave you amused and inspired. As she candidly discusses challenges, such as dealing with harsh climates and local regulations, you will discover the importance of 'chicken math' as you consider expanding your flock.

But the conversation doesn't stop there. We also delve into the digital realm, discussing the significance of fostering kindness and compassion in the online chicken community. Courtney shares her experiences with her Instagram account, Rocker Chooks, and the connections she has made with fellow chicken keepers. We further explore the crucial role of avian veterinarians in rural communities and the need to encourage interested youngsters to pursue this career path. This episode is a heartwarming blend of tips, stories, and motivating conversations, perfect for chicken lovers or anyone interested in a journey of passion for their community.

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“Where education fuels compassion.”

Melissa:

Hey y'all, welcome back. We are so excited. Today's guest is probably one of my favorite young. I call her young because I'm old and she's young, so not to be disrespectful like you're a baby or anything, but she is young and I'm really excited to talk with her. I know you will be too, because we're getting a perspective on the younger generation that you know owning these chickens, and not just for to support their family, but has pets. So if you would please help me, welcome Courtney from the Rocker Chooks and taking a week. We're so excited.

Melissa:

Hey y'all, I'm Mel and you are listening to Willmude the Wonderhand. Are you a chicken math loving mama or daddy? Together we'll dive into the latest poultry keeping adventures, chat about everyday life with a generous mix of some hilarious stories, Bringing you fascinating interviews with poultry owners from all over. You'll find tips and basic advice from your local veterinarian, along with new chicken keeping gadgets and reviews. I'm gonna see what Mr Jengels and Wilma has to say about that. We're going to encourage and help you build a stronger, healthier flock. Most can see what Mr Jengels and Wilma is up to. Let's go let these peppers out.

Courtney:

Well, thanks, mel, this is like super exciting. I know I've been telling friends of mine like, oh, I have this thing coming up, but it's really chicken nerdy, I don't know if you want to hear it. And then I tell them and they go, that sounds about right for you. So I'm excited for today.

Melissa:

Well, for those that don't really know you, like we know you, but could you give us a little background information? Just kind of tell us who you are, where you started from. All that good stuff.

Courtney:

Yeah, no problem. So folks listening will probably be like that's a interesting accent. So I'm in Northern Minnesota Again, my name's Courtney and I have just a tiny little flock of some backyard chicks that I started in 2020. Little bit different than maybe some folks who started during the pandemic to feed their family. I had some different goals in mind but through that process realizing I love these darn fluffy things.

Courtney:

They are so cute and quickly became my little babies. But with that, knowing I was taking and filling up my Google storage quickly and probably bothering family and friends with my regular social media, I said you know what these girls deserve? Their own page. Oh they do. Yeah, so that's how the Rocker Chucks Instagram came to be is really just a place to dump all those photos, but I have just grown to really love connecting with people who love the chickens or Minnesota things or just want to learn and look at cute animals.

Melissa:

Yeah, Did you grow up on a farm? I know you have a great and amazing background and also what you do. Now I'm a little in VS7. I'm probably gonna pick your brain a little bit on the dairy cow side, maybe later on another chance or whatever. But what was it like growing up? Were you always thinking about animals?

Courtney:

Yeah, I think I was thinking about animals a lot, but my growing up was unique in that my mom and dad were separated so I wasn't necessarily in the same home all the time. My dad lived close to where I was on a small hobby farm. We raised At that time it was commercial cow calves pretty small, and then did some haying just really little. I got to hear lots of stories from my grandma of growing up on the farm and all the pieces that go together with that. Back in the day they used to have dairy cows and deep down would love to experience that myself.

Courtney:

I haven't, but I surround myself with people who do. And then when I was with my mom we had a dog and then my sister got a cat and I had some rabbits. But given that I couldn't necessarily have my own animals all the time, I connected with kids at school and 4-H became a big part of my life. So I'm really thankful for a lot of adults that let me lease animals. So I got to have lots of experience with animals through that.

Melissa:

Did you show cattle? I know this isn't on our topic, but I just I think it's fascinating.

Courtney:

So I did. I went from small to big so first had those little rabbits and I loved them. There was Rendle and Kendall. There's a whole story behind those names. It's the Bastion and I'm sure when my friends in the rabbit world hear this they'll go oh, courtney, courtney, courtney In fact I have a I guess I'm blocking the chair but very important chair behind me that I want to trip to this Minnesota State Fair with my rabbits, got quizzed and got a special director's chair.

Melissa:

Oh wow, that is a big deal.

Courtney:

Yeah, yes. So I spent some time in the rabbit world. Then my very best friend growing up who is raising her kids very similarly. She's got dairy cows, homesteads, goats. So goats became all the rage, primarily dairy goats yeah. Yeah, and then finally, you know, I really wanted to be with beef. That was like they're big, they're cute. I want to give them baths, give them, like their little hair dry before the show.

Melissa:

I watched those into that. I watched some I never expected. I've never had a beef cow and, like my husband's family, they've had beef cow here, they've had dairy cows here, they had all the goats, the pigs, everything. But I'm kind of living through you because I wish I had spent more time in school, like paying attention to, like all the 4-H kids and stuff you know.

Courtney:

So there's a lot you know and I mean that's all the show stuff, but during the non-show time of the year, the summertime, kids are learning about you know how to best take care of their animal, how do they want to move their breeding program, or if they're doing a market animal like what goes into raising a high quality animal. So there's so much and plus all the friendships, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be dating my boyfriend if it wasn't for that, because of there's some weird 4-H ties and probably not on this program. So that is how I got to be involved with animals.

Melissa:

I wish they had like 4-H for old people.

Courtney:

I know, tell me about it. It's a fine line.

Melissa:

I tell you there would be people I know personally at my age that would be lining up for you know, to experience that now. But yeah, it's very interesting. But not to interrupt you, continue on with your story. How did you get like where you are now, like with your, the college background that you have now?

Courtney:

Yeah, so I actually am a first generation college student, so my parents didn't go to colleges as new for our family and I just really wanted to get out of my little small town. I graduated with 28 kids, very Hickville, usa. I'm sure lots of people can resonate with that in their own spaces. I wanted out and I knew education was the only path to do that, so started in community college here in our bigger town next door, lived with my dad. It was great, save money, do all those things.

Courtney:

And then I really had to think about what do I want to do? And at that time I mean I still was. I can't get enough of this animal stuff. You know I knew I couldn't be a vet. That wasn't a passion area for me, but I loved talking about them and communicating. So that's ultimately what I chose was agricultural communication, with a little minor in animal science. I could play in the barns during college and I did that at North Dakota State, which was really a great experience for me to figure out. Ok, this is the chunk of agriculture I know, but there is this much more. I was able to travel to China to learn about worldwide agricultural trade. That is not my cup of tea. I really just wanted to have pets or foster the experiences that I had, which is what led me back to the 4-H program, becoming an extension educator.

Melissa:

Oh, that's pretty dang amazing. I'm jealous, I'm just a little jealous. That's pretty great, that's awesome. They have a Master Garner's program that I went through. I wish they had like a master. Like I said, 4-h for old people.

Courtney:

Well, that's the cool part. Like 4-H is based on experiential learning and as adults we get to do that. I feel like that's what this whole having backyard chickens thing is is like my little adult 4-H slash experiential learning experience.

Melissa:

I like the way that. Yeah, okay, so I like the way you think. I like that. That's a good point. Yeah, we all have our own little 4-H in our background in our backyard. But I will say, reading through your bio, I was really impressed with the way that you started out and then to where we got to, where you stopped off, at what you went to college for and then now what you're doing with your degree and stuff. But do you think that when you were growing up, that that was something that helped you during that time? No, okay.

Courtney:

Oh yes and no. So 4-H was so important to me to connect with other like kids and adults that cared right. I think we know that young people can't get enough of that and anyone paying attention to youth. Today we have a mental health crisis that we are very steeped in. Positive adult relationships are an absolute key to that and there's lots of ways you can break that down. The search institute of Minneapolis has been like a really great data-driven point If folks are interested in learning more about that and how they can be good adults and positive to people around them, whether they're parents or neighbors or people that just see in the grocery store. But at that time I definitely didn't think I was going to become somebody that worked with young people. I still don't love little teeny people I like when they're about my height I'm 5'3 or taller and can hold a full-on adult conversation but are interested in learning more.

Courtney:

So teens is my favorite audience. So yeah, that's kind of the workplace path and staying connected to those people. And egg definitely have supported my backyard chicken habit.

Melissa:

So when you started, what did you start with? Where did you get your chickens? You know all that good stuff.

Courtney:

Absolutely Well, March 2020,. What a fun time to try to get chickens and scratch that idea. I purchased my very first home in the fall of 2019 and when I did that, I was like you know, this is all about me, Like it's, this is my time to do what I want, which I think you're allowed to do that Absolutely.

Courtney:

And thirties and forties and so on. But I said you know what? Let's research through the wintertime, figure out what breeds you want. What's going to like really work. Here is my first experience with with birds, so pandemic happened. Luckily, our local fleet store happened to have chicks in, so I had asked for two barred rocks and two little Rhode Island reds. I wanted classic American.

Melissa:

That was it. That was it yeah.

Courtney:

I got it. Oh, did I get it. And then some were you prepared?

Melissa:

Did you? Did you do your research beforehand? Did you like plan out your coop? Did you plan out your area, all that stuff?

Courtney:

Okay, I think I did, but in retrospect. No, no, not as good as I should have. But that's, you know, the beauty of learning. I knew enough to be dangerous and had researched enough to be dangerous. I had a location picked out in my yard for where their coop would be, but maybe I got the chicks before the coop. That's sort of how it happened. That's how I started.

Courtney:

Yeah, it's a. It's the tricky, those little little beaks and those cute little eyes. Come home with me, I'll find out, we'll figure it out together. Yes, I'm very fortunate that my dad lives a half a mile for me with the tractor and all the things. So when I needed help to move my coop which this might be kind of a foreign concept to some listeners, but no, northern Minnesota wintertime, those lakes, they're frozen.

Courtney:

And what do people do? We fish on the lake, drill holes. Some people bring out a spearhouse so it has a great big hole. My dad had an old spearhouse that he didn't use anymore and I thought it's like the perfect coop size. So that is ultimately what I chose to use.

Melissa:

Yeah, very creative, it was something and I learned a lot through that process.

Courtney:

This spearfishing house was insulated with pink foam. I learned chickens treat that like crap. They love that.

Courtney:

Yeah like they're mesmerized. So that was a quick. We better cover it up. And this was also a tin covered spearhouse. Wintertime that's not great. It does not hold heat well and it doesn't vent nice as well as in the summertime. You're making yourself like a little cooker. We've had to do a lot of adaptations, of adding new vents and new doors and a window, but now I feel like we're in an okay spot if she did it nice and the girls seem happy.

Melissa:

Yeah yeah, that's all that matters. You see a lot of Instagram, and there's nothing wrong if you've got a coop that costs more than my house and you've got, like, more power too. Yeah, definitely no shade for me. But I also want the everyday person to understand that it doesn't have to look like that to say I'm providing for my chickens, kind of thing.

Courtney:

Exactly, and I've gone through ebbs and flows of shame because it looks like a redneck rodeo back there, especially during lockdown, I had a big blue tarp and I have a ratchet strap holding up aboard because the snow busted it down. I mean, there's a reason. When you look at my account you don't see the whole thing, but I've never had a predator break in. They've always been safe. They're covered from the rain and the wind and the elements. They lay eggs. That's all that matters.

Melissa:

And I'm laughing only because of remembering back to flock down. And, oh goodness, mine do a lot of free ranging but they all have their own little runs attached to their coop, but it's small. The run isn't intended to keep them permanently 24 hours a day in there. They have a whole seven acres in an enclosure. So when flock down happened I too was freaking out. I was putting tarps up and I had like netting. My husband robbed a builder. He put up like poles to make the tarp. You know you look like a circus back here.

Courtney:

Still looks like a circus back here, that's okay.

Melissa:

That's okay, that's right.

Courtney:

So where did you do what we can?

Melissa:

Where did the whole? I know there's a story behind this.

Courtney:

A little bit. Yeah. So I mean naming animals. I mean that's just like a little kid's favorite thing to do and I got to do that at the farm with the cows. Lots of family were renamed into cows, Not sure how they feel about that. So when I thought about naming these, these chickens, you know it's like, okay, I'm got this house. This is a reflection of me. These are my babies. I'm a woman, all these pieces, and I thought female, like lead singers, is where it needs to happen. And land and the, the rocker chicks came to be because rocker chicks was taken.

Melissa:

Yeah, yeah, we want to make sure people are not looking for Courtney at the rocker. Chicks, chicks, yeah, there's lots of them.

Courtney:

You're not going to find me there, but chooks, you'll find me at the rocker chicks. So, and that that's a nice nod to our, our friends down under, calm their little birds, chooks, and I think that's kind of fun.

Melissa:

I think it's fun too. I think it's adorable.

Courtney:

Yeah, and it gives you lots of room to play. And now my boyfriend's moved in and he had an existing flock how excited he was living. Yes, so how they are my friend end up with chickens.

Melissa:

I know he's not here, but I got here a little.

Courtney:

I know He'll be here soon about chickens.

Melissa:

I'm not exactly sure how he got like it, like he's a strong, independent man. And then he had his own chickens like they weren't his mom or dad or anything. No.

Courtney:

Yeah, he purchased his great-grandparents homestead. He had Finnish immigrant family members that built the house and I think having that coop was like a Just like a way to do a little nod to heritage. That's my guess. I should probably clear that with him he sounds like the most he sounds like our kind of guy okay. He's a Rob the builder kind of do.

Melissa:

I can see the internet sky now.

Courtney:

We'll see how that flies. Very quiet man, but he does love his birds, so that was pre me. But he had named off his his chickens after female Country we do already Wow. I know, I know you got me. So right now we're the rocker chucks featuring the country legends, so we'll see how that goes.

Melissa:

I do see the picture behind you and I know who that is, but could you although our podcast listeners may not see the picture, but there is a framed. It looks like a water art. I believe it is a water art is drawing of one of Courtney's previous Girl, so could you tell us who that is?

Courtney:

I would love to. There was no way I could do this podcast with. So this is Stevie chicks. Stevie next, she was one of the original four chickens that I had here and you know, before I had birds, I had no idea the level of personality and intensity that they could have. I learned that quickly on the ride home from the fleets store. These little chicks were bouncing around and she was certainly one of them peeking her, peeking her head out, but she just had a really unique personality. She wanted to hop up onto my lap with very little coaching even from a small chick. In fact, the next week I'm gonna be posting some OG film from my old phone Of her first few weeks and months together.

Courtney:

But she just really Taught me that these birds are far more than birds. They are far more than pets. They can Truly be in a therapeutic sense. You know, I think we all struggled during Maybe not all- many of us did during lockdown.

Courtney:

We all have our own stuff that we come with Throughout life and she, just like I, swear new. You know people say that about dogs and horses. I think this little chicken did Very special. She ended up having several just very odd health things happen to her. Over a year ago I did see a vet tried to start that vet relationship fortunate that somebody in our community does see them and Didn't really get, you know, great answers. We tried some antibiotics. It helped, had a great stretch where she did well, made it through winter very fine, no changes, and then Just walked out in the morning one day and unfortunately she had passed. So this watercolor is not something I would have ever thought.

Melissa:

I would have asked for.

Courtney:

But there's a lovely Minnesota artist, britt Backey, and she does watercolors of pets. She reached out to me and said it would be an honor to do an image of Stevie. So we work together and it's just like my favorite part of the house, I think, is having her up.

Melissa:

I think it's wonderful. I have a hand drawn picture of Miss Brittany, which is probably one of my heart what, what we call our heart chickens. We love them all, but occasionally there's a heart chicken that comes along and she hangs in my living room as a reminder and like, like you said, you know people don't. If you've never, I mean understand that people have, like we are, we do not have any judgment. Like, if you raise chickens just for meat and eggs for your family, go for it. You know, absolutely with her. With the way that prices are on their grocery store, I mean it's ridiculous. So you know we, we don't, there's no judgment here for that.

Melissa:

But also on that side we see a lot of people now since the pandemic, you know they started out wanting, you know, eggs and meat for their family and then they kind of realized you know these are also pets. You know they have personalities and they are endless entertainment and there are Accounts that are used Just strictly for a therapeutic, for you know chickens as therapy. So definitely so how many chickens you currently have did you add on? Also, you don't live in the city, right, like you live out in the county. Well, you don't have any restrictions.

Courtney:

I don't have any restrictions, you know I do try. I do have some neighbors that are. You know I can see their houses. It's a bit of a stretch but I can see. I might try to be respectful with how much racket we're we're having. You know, of those four original birds I did have a rooster. That wasn't my intent. Madonna quickly became Freddie Mercury and yeah from the day.

Melissa:

Queen is, like my favorite, one of the old school absolutely you know, mad respect for Queen.

Courtney:

I started losing some respect for Freddie after, you know, really trying to do all the the gentle ways of becoming one and knowing that I'm safe, not here to hurt your girls.

Melissa:

Yeah.

Courtney:

I did end up having to remove him from our flock, which was sad but also a learning lesson. So with that in mind, I have currently with the country legends. We have six birds. You know have lost birds over time. That's just part of chicken keeping and learning. I had a dog attack. That was really freak and weird, and my neighbors and I have a new Like agreement and know what's expected of each other, which is which is good. You need to do that, and I've been really intentional about not adding more birds until I was ready, so I did add.

Courtney:

Good point yes because that chicken math, oh, oh real.

Melissa:

I know, I know all about. Well, you see, taking math, my face is right there.

Courtney:

I picked up four birds a couple of years ago from a friend's grandparents who were getting older and Having a harder time taking care of the volume of birds they had. They were lovely. So that's how I ended up with Tina and Patty and a couple other girls who have passed, but I have those still, and next spring, now that my boyfriend's here with the new coop and we have some plans, we're being Really careful about what we want to add in. So we do have hopes for more birds. All layers there are some, you know Wilma's on the dockets, I know. Before he knew who Wilma was. He said that's a beautiful bird. I said, okay, they are them.

Melissa:

They are wonderful birds, though. Wilma's on the sassier side, but she had a tragic origin story when she was little, so it's not her fault that she is the way she is, but lavender's in general, or betweens in general, are some amazing birds, so yeah, I'm really excited and you know I've talked about you live in Minnesota.

Courtney:

We're in a pretty harsh climate In terms of winter time. It can get 40 below for several days at a time and that wind is whoo is wrong? Oh yeah, definitely you have to have Winter hearty birds. Yeah they can handle the heat and humidity of the summer. So you just have to be really careful about what we choose.

Melissa:

Yeah you have to definitely be knowledgeable. I like the way you Mention your particular microclimate, because I think people maybe read stuff online, which is going to be my next question of you know where you would send people for information, but that you focus on your microclimate because online is kind of like a general thing. There are general things that you can do To prevent, like you know, frostbite and things like that, but microclimates in your area, asking people around in your area is definitely important. So where would you send someone who needed tips or where did you get your tips from? Where did you get your learning To take care of your birds from?

Courtney:

Yeah, I started with just observing, right. So again I've talked about a big. I work for 4-H. I'm a part of the University of Minnesota Extension youth development. I am by no means a poultry specialist, but paying attention to what kids are doing. You know who, what birds are they bringing, Asking questions. It was really fun. You know that was maybe pre-learning, but it's good for everybody to do that. I did pay attention to what extensions. You know every state in the United States has an extension. What do they promote? What do they suggest? What are some some good tips. Many times it's related to commercial, but there are still some good pieces you can learn from.

Courtney:

Really tried to stay away from the Facebook groups and some of those things. Maybe they're good for a good jumping off point. You know I might go. That seems similar. I want to investigate that. More Poultry DMV awesome. Of course. I came across your page and maybe not a research angle, but at now it's become a place to say I wonder what Wilma has to say about that and Melissa, because you've gone through a lot of research and sifted things out and have a great way to point people in the right direction.

Melissa:

Yeah, we don't ever claim to be a vet or anything, but we've experienced a lot and I don't take firsthand what someone says, and that's of course. It's like a poultry, you know, veterinarian or whatever. And even then I'm like does that make sense?

Courtney:

But yes, yeah, I like to have a couple sources and I've got a community mentor. You know she's been a part of my life for a long, long time, way before birds were of interest to me. At one point I was probably more like poultry boys I was more interested in than the poultry and she was connected to that. But that's a story for another day.

Melissa:

And I just adore you.

Courtney:

Well, this is. It's just a crazy story, but I'm sure the listeners don't want to hear about my you know prepubescent days at the State Fair, maybe maybe another episode we might.

Melissa:

We made this like do a spin off, because we've we each like each guest we've had is something that we could probably spin off. That would be a great episode.

Courtney:

Absolutely. But she's continued to be a good mentor to me to to ask questions. We live in the same climate and area and she knows a lot of the same vets and and those things, so she's been a really great resource.

Melissa:

Do you have any tips for your, for our listeners? You know basic tips. Obviously, you've been through a lot and you do have access to a lot of information, a lot of good resources. Yeah, Maybe like some tips or something or whatever you whatever comes to mind, or basic general tips before you get your chickens.

Courtney:

It's really up to you. Yeah, have have your coup plans that's helpful and know what's good for for your climate. You know I've talked about Minnesota was really cold and I've also learned that chickens are super hearty and as long as you're out of the wind, that takes an awful lot of pressure off those little bodies. So I think knowing your climate is is a great first step and a good tip, and not just you know when you get those checks. That's just one point in the year. We have to think about their whole life cycle.

Courtney:

I think another tip is just to not be that scared. Be smart but don't be that scared. I know I am nervous to start most projects. I've got a bunch of furniture things I'd love to change and do in the garage. Haven't touched them, afraid I might mess them up. But these chickens were worth worth the risk because I had done some research and felt comfortable. So I said don't be scared. You know I'm 31 now. I got chickens in my late twenties on my own and they did fine and I did. I think I did fine. So know your climate, don't be scared and definitely do your research. Find people you trust beyond those Facebook groups. Great jumping off point, but not the end. I'll be all.

Melissa:

I like that you mentioned your local community. You know you had friends that were local that you know you could bounce ideas off of and things like that, and I know some people may not have that option and there's a lot of presence online. So what do you think? What do you think are the benefits that? That that we only have access let's say we only have access to online help and some of the drawbacks there.

Courtney:

Yeah, I think benefits are one just being able to learn from other people's experiences. You know I've learned a lot about egg yolk.

Melissa:

I can't say egg yolk paranis tinnitus, yeah, or tinnitus. It really. I think it depends on your accent. It doesn't matter, we know what you're talking about. We know what you're talking about.

Courtney:

Right All these things that may come up in your flock. I think having that connection to online people to learn from their experiences before you're in that situation is awesome. I've really valued that. But also knowing where those where folks' information is coming from not just experience, although it is super important, like pairing an experience with being able to research on poultry DMV or any of those story books.

Melissa:

Mark van Manualcom, the other guygov, I think it is.

Courtney:

That's another good one, I think so Excellent page. And extensions I mean I again bias, but there's research into those too.

Melissa:

Do you see the chicken community? I know we kind of discussed a little bit, but do you see where the chicken community could do more, maybe to help each other, or do less of something that would be beneficial to the community?

Courtney:

Yeah, I think we all could just be a lot more kind. I mean that's everybody in all aspects poultry and not but I oftentimes see folks that are maybe new in the poultry world just getting their first chicks or maybe just they boo booed. We make mistakes. We are so totally human and people are really quick online sometimes to judge or throw hate or whatever those things are, and we really need to just stop that. I think we need to pause. Listen, I love your mission or tagline of education through compassion right.

Courtney:

This really sits with me in a good place and I think we need to operate that way. No, granted, there are egregious things we may see online and that's different, but for your average person, we just need to be far more kind and include everybody. There is plenty of room in the flock for every kind of person to be doing this.

Melissa:

Yeah, it's kind of funny and we're definitely not spilling the tea or dishing out whatever, but it's true, there's a lot of you see that in the fashion world or the beauty world and you think certainly not in the backyard chicken world but there is a lot of maybe making people feel like they're not good enough to maybe make some posts on how to do things or how they do things. It really gets on my nerves, I think that's. It makes me really angry and Wilma tries not to get angry, ok, but it makes me angry when someone makes someone else feel less than yeah, totally. It's probably one of the most irritating things that gets to me is when people present themselves as armchair experts or Instagram experts but then someone who may not have as that following is actually well educated. They spend a lot of time researching and money doesn't make you, or presence doesn't make you smart or less than OK, absolutely.

Melissa:

So we're going to keep this nice and happy, but it really does irk me. It irks me so bad and I will definitely be the one to defend that person. That's being belittled because, you know, maybe they don't have a big follower count, like who cares? But I will say, the more followers that you have you should be putting out. This is the other flip side. Is that also irks me? Is that if you do have a higher count, you need to be careful what you're putting out, because people do replicate that, because maybe you're the only source that they have.

Courtney:

Absolutely.

Melissa:

Yeah, there's a big responsibility there.

Courtney:

I didn't mean to go off on a tangent, but I was an important one to have and I know I don't either, and you know, we see, you know in any kind of youth program for each aside. But you know, young people are coming at lots of different stages of life with lots of different abilities. Resources yeah, and resources, absolutely, that's a whole podcast.

Melissa:

Yes, it is.

Courtney:

And adults are the same, so I just people it's. I'm also, you know, working on the ability not to judge quickly, especially when I'm driving and someone's cut me off. We all have places we need to grow. Yes, yes but I you know, not everybody is going to raise birds the way their great grandpa did, because this isn't the same world that they lived in either, and this is a global society that people are raising birds all over the world for a long, long time.

Melissa:

So, yeah, just accepting diverse experiences, yeah, and that's very, very true, because we do get messages and stuff from people from other countries and they don't have access to the feeds and different types of medications and even even though the FDA banned the over counter, but just basic, you know first aid stuff and that you know they don't have access to those. So they're trying to figure out different ways to feed their birds because they want birds. They are, you know, so you can't just turn them away and be like, oh well, I don't know what to tell you. You know, maybe take an extra step to ask someone that lives similar, you know, or lives somewhere near them and has birds and they're doing okay, like what are you using or what are you feeding? You know those? Take an extra step. I mean, obviously you don't have to, you know I'm not telling you you have to do any of that. Maybe it would be nice to take an extra step and just help someone for free for free, absolutely Not to buy my A book.

Courtney:

Right, absolutely Just. I mean, if that's your, the only little piece of goodness you put into the world in the day, I mean that's great, really really appreciate it. I know you've helped me out many times where I thought, oh, I don't know. She'll respond to me like a big account, little account, and you've been very, very responsive and I just always appreciated that. And same with Ray COVID.

Melissa:

She's a great source of information, yeah, Yep, so I agree, I know that you talked a little bit about already, about your future. You know you're going to, you're planning for next year, which is very smart and thinking about, but do you have any kind of favorites other than the lavenders that you want?

Courtney:

Yeah, my boyfriend just is absolutely in love with black Osterlarps. We have a few right now and they are just sweet as pie they are.

Melissa:

I have yeah, I had some for a long time. They were really nice.

Courtney:

Yeah, and I've just really grown to love them. They have the sweetest little faces. I also, you know, had a wine dot at one point in time, for very short time. She was one of those girls that I acquired. I'm not sure what kind of things came with them. I was careful with them and I don't know how old they were either. But Golden, lace, wine dots, oh, big, big doughy eyes for me. They get me and I love my dark brown Matina.

Courtney:

Oh yeah, she is all that in a bag of chips. She's a big girl, she eats like a big girl, but she's sweet, super cold, tolerant. I'd love to have more varieties of Brahmins, but Brahmins are very versatile.

Melissa:

Yeah, that's a good breed to have, definitely. Yeah, even the roosters, the ones that I had now the wine dot roosters I'm going to. I have no comment about that, so yeah, Okay. We had to take care of that.

Courtney:

The Brahma rooster even though he's a gigantic, he was the sweetest, most gentle thing, like Mr Jangle's, but yeah, hard to beat, mr J, and, and that's the thing too, like I would love to make sure that where we're sourcing, I'd like to keep it local. You know, I've been down the the Hatchery Road, I've got feelings. You know, for what I want to contribute in the world. I don't know if Hatchery is where I want to go, I agree.

Courtney:

It's not. It's not where it worked, but yeah, I have access to all these young, young people hatching birds and breeders. So I just I think I want to be I don't know. I want to do a little research and then see who's got stuff, and maybe these kids will want to hatch them out for me. So I don't do that, because then I'll hatch 100 and we'll have a whole different kind of problem. But yeah, I want to keep it local if I can.

Melissa:

I like that. I definitely that's. One of our tips that we try to always encourage is to look local at local hatchery. You know local. I say local hatcheries, but you know what I mean small local places that you know hatch their own birds right there and they don't have to travel all the way across the country to get to you. Not saying if that's how you buy your chicks, there's nothing wrong with that, but we each kind of have our own thoughts of how we want to you know, live, and that's okay, that's fine.

Courtney:

Absolutely Yep. That's why there's lots of different ways to do it. So and I haven't looked at my calendar yet but there's a. There's a large poultry show that happens in Southern Minnesota in the fall and I've been invited to attend, like just to go with friends, and I might entertain that. This year We'll see.

Melissa:

Don't forget to bring a cage. Yeah.

Courtney:

I know I've been warned.

Melissa:

Well, is there anything else that you would like to add that we didn't go over? You think there's anything that it would be important to share with our listeners that they could benefit from? I think we've covered any words of wisdom from Courtney you know all the words of wisdom.

Courtney:

Besides, be kind, support your crazy local chicken ladies. Love them. We need that. Love Sport, local artists? I don't know. I think just try. You know, if you're somebody who isn't into birds yet, this is your opportunity to learn more and get prepared. Also, you know shameless plug to support young people who are interested in any passion, whether it's poultry or otherwise. You just don't know what that's going to lead to. So I think that's probably my, my, biggest plug support those young people, even if it's just a oh, so you're kind of interested in that. Tell me more. That can really go a long way.

Melissa:

Yeah, because you know we're going to need the way that we're not to get into all that, you know the way things are going. We definitely are going to need, we definitely need kids that want to pursue, pursue veterinarian, like avian veterinarians, because we not saying that you have to take your chicken to the vet every. You know sneeze or sniffle, you know, just like your kids, you know you got to, you know kind of make that call, but you know, in times of emergency, you know it, it would be nice to have a local veterinarian that sees chickens, because I know a lot of them just don't. They just don't. They have so much on their plate now to try and learn, not that they couldn't learn, but to try and learn a whole new, another species that maybe they just didn't. You know, have that schooling for our basic schooling for, or hands on experience, for we need those, so we need the kids. Yes, definitely.

Courtney:

We do. We need them and we need to help them get to that point right now. It's an expensive game to play, but we do need them. I feel so lucky that you know there was a vet in our community willing to see them. But our, our, that industry is they're stressed in more ways than one and and we may sometimes feel as, as owners of animals like I'm, I'm paying that, yes, and humans taking care of a lot of stuff, yeah. And I know in our community we have a lot more large animals and we are strapped for large animals. So any vets, let's just we'll push it or vet tax all the things.

Melissa:

Yeah, we live in a very rural farm community and there's I mean, there's beef cows like two houses up I could, and to drive by there and see the little baby calves just melts my heart.

Melissa:

But yeah, you'll see the vets out there, but a lot of times they have a previous relationship, you know. So they necessarily don't have to come out, but you know they can do things over the phone and stuff. You know that would lead to leading to is maybe you could connect with your local vet, even if they don't see chickens, and kind of make that initial connection and then maybe they would be willing to kind of help you, because maybe you know a little bit more, you know, and then they could right, they could make that ability to write prescriptions with that and you know, and kind of, I don't know, I just would like to see a better relationship between both. You know people get angry because events aren't doing this or that and then I mean it's just a cycle and I don't have the answer, I'm just rambling. I just would like to see, see a little bit more communication together, you know, to kind of help the community.

Courtney:

Absolutely, and you know I might be one of the few people I know in our community that has brought a chicken to the vet. Even my mentor went. You did what I said yeah, I brought Stevie in, like okay, you love your chickens, don't you? I said, yes, I do. But my hope was okay, to at least at a bare minimum learn something, build that relationship with that and also say there is a community of folks out here who are needing care. You know, spread the word there's. There's more chicken folk out there who need prescriptions or need to have a stool sample done. So that was I'm right there with you. I hope things change and all we can just say are avian vet, they know Wilma by site.

Melissa:

So when they are named, when they see Wilma they know, because Wilma is a she she likes to try and unalive herself on, you know, the weekly. So and I may be taking her to the vet more often than I would probably admit, only because she is older. She's about six and a half now and I do worry because that will be a rough day when Wilma goes.

Courtney:

But anyway, we just will. We'll do good prayers and good vibes for all those heart hands that all the hands across the chicken world.

Melissa:

Yes, the reproductive issues and things as they age is really really rough. It's rough on the hand and it's rough on their owner. So maybe just bringing awareness to it, even if we can't you know, there are things that you can't really fix, but you know, as I get past a certain age, but we could be advocating for just making them comfortable, you know, and giving them palliative care until you know, till the end. But anyway, I have one more question for you, since I think that's about it. But if you could be 17 years old again, what would you tell yourself? What would you say to 17 year old Courtney, now that you are a mature, independent woman?

Courtney:

Oh, this is what a week for that. I felt like I've done lots of reflecting on my youth this past week for lots of reasons. I think I would. I would tell her you'll get what you want, it's just going to take a little bit. And to not be so hard on yourself. I think that would also be a maybe I still need that reminder. But don't be so hard on yourself and you'll get what you want.

Melissa:

I love that. I think that applies to a lot of us and I think that you are very obviously mature. You're not a baby, okay, but being in those 20s and 30s and trying to find yourself and you know, just come into your own.

Courtney:

Yeah, but we just do the best we can right.

Melissa:

Yes, we do and we have. We are so honored and it was a big privilege to have you with us. And where can people find you on the internet?

Courtney:

Yeah, absolutely. More are always welcome. We love good conversation. I'm on or?

Courtney:

we are on Instagram at the Rocker Chooks, so you'll find us there. We're kind of in transition right now with it's summertime. We're building a deck here at our house which is the chicken's favorite summer hang, so I think they may be just as excited as myself, but they'll hang under and over, so my account maybe has been a little a little quiet lately, but more to come quickly as our flocks totally merge, the deck comes to life and we do some throwbacks of what the Rocker Chooks are going to have.

Melissa:

Yeah, I can't wait to see Stevie when she was little, so that will that will be fun to watch, so but we appreciate you and we thank you. Bye, courtney, thank you, see, ya, thank you. I'm Mel and you are listening to Willemode the Wonderhand.

Chicken Keeping and Agricultural Backgrounds
Raising Chickens and Connecting With Youth
Raising Chickens in Harsh Climates
Promoting Kindness in the Chicken Community
Avian Veterinarians in Rural Communities
Rocker Chooks' Instagram and Deck Transition