Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast

32 Chicken Keeping How To: Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier with Melissa of Feathers and Fashion

January 10, 2022 Melissa Season 2 Episode 32
Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast
32 Chicken Keeping How To: Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier with Melissa of Feathers and Fashion
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Show Notes Transcript

This week's guest is Melissa Shifler, BA, CADC, CFRS, CRSS

Director of Cap-5 Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) Program


Melissa has worked in the drug and alcohol field since 2003. She first worked as an Addictions Counselor for 13 years, and as a Clinical Supervisor for six years.  Eventually she was promoted to the Executive Director position of a licensed treatment facility that provided individual, family and group therapy. Melissa is skilled in counseling, assessment, intervention and supervision.  In May of 2016 Melissa began working for the RASE Project and since that time she has excelled in service delivery and supervision of the largest program that RASE Project offers; the Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) Program.  As the Director of the CAP-5 MARS Program she provides oversight and supervision to Recovery Coordinators and Regional Supervisors.  Her strengths involve problem solving, decision making, leadership and time management.  Melissa obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Shippensburg University and is a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADC), Certified Family Recovery Specialist (CFRS) and a Certified Recovery Specialist Supervisor (CRSS).  Melissa started her chicken keeping adventures in March of 2019.

Listen in as we discuss how her chicken keeping journey started, tips for new chicken keepers, and things she would've done differently.

"Where education fuels compassion."

Education is the key to helping our flocks live out healthy long lives.

You can follow Melissa  https://www.instagram.com/feathers_and_fashion/

Don't forget to follow Wilma here:  https://www.instagram.com/wilmathewonderhen



Support the show

“Where education fuels compassion.”

Melissa M  0:00  
Hey friends welcome back to another episode of Wilma, the wonder hands podcast. I apologize in advance because you will hear punky raising Cain in the background. She is mad that I am not paying attention to her and doing this. But today's guest is Melissa of feathers and fashion. Melissa has worked in the drug and alcohol field since 2003. She has worked as an addiction counselor for 13 years. And as a clinical supervisor for six years. She eventually was promoted to the executive director position of a licensed treatment facility that provides individual family and group therapy was also a chicken mama since March of 2019. Melissa discusses with us some of her failures, the mistakes that she's made and things that she's changed along the way and things that she has learned. And I believe this will be a value to you. So many great tips in this episode. And we always say we're education fuels can passion, so the more we know the better we can treat and be of help to our flock. Let's go y'all. Hey, y'all. I'm Mel and you're listening to Wilma, the wonder hand Are you a chicken mouth live in mama daddy. Together we'll dive into the latest poetry keeping adventures shot 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. jangles and Wilma has to say about that we're going to encourage and help you build a stronger, healthier flat was co CEO Mr. jangles Illuma is up to let's go let these represent. Okay, welcome back beautiful people. Today's guest is Melissa of feathers and fashion. She is a very smart lady and she graciously agreed to be on our podcast today.

Melissa S  2:13  
How are you?

Melissa M  2:15  
We are doing wonderful. We are so excited to have you with us. Okay, Melissa, can you tell us a little bit more about you. I know our listeners would love to hear what you do.

Melissa S  2:27  
So I live in south central Pennsylvania. And I work for a 501 C three nonprofit. We are a recovery community organization. And I am their program director. I started out in the field of drug and alcohol probably about 18 years ago, I guess it is by now. I started out doing direct service and an outpatient provider. I'm a real life legit counselor, my drug and alcohol counselor. And I was there for a while I eventually became the Executive Director while I was there, you know, clinical supervisor, executive director. And then I felt it was time to move on. And that's when I found this nonprofit here in Pennsylvania. And I am the Director of Programs most of the programs that I oversee are medication assisted types of recovery. So people who are who are struggling with addiction that maybe need Suboxone or Vivitrol that kind of thing. Um, so I oversee all the coordinators, almost all of my staff are people in long term recovery themselves. And this is a passion of mine because I grew up in a home where there was alcohol abuse. So I have some of those what they call ACO a characteristics, which I think helped me. I've got all the good ones I believe. And so I can resize I can relate. And it's just my passion. I love to see people get well. Fortunately, some of my people that I even had as clients I've had as employees as well. And in fact, in fact, my girl, one of my girls, that cleans my house, she celebrated seven years yesterday and I'm just so proud of her.

Melissa M  4:20  
That's pretty amazing. I think that's kind of why we connected on our Instagram, not just because of the chickens, but I noticed you were posting some of those types of things and I did grow up my father was an alcoholic. I mean a severe alcoholic. He died in his early 50s with his liver was trash but and then my baby sister actually, she od 10 years ago on Thanksgiving. She had an issue and I don't know I just I don't remember her ever having outlets like you. Um, we did tried, you know, different avenues to help her but oh Obviously, if you don't have the desire to change, I don't, for me to say I just know that it just seemed like it just nothing was helping her.

Melissa S  5:11  
The whole peer specialist is kind of a newer thing. It's probably about maybe about eight, nine years into into the field of drug and alcohol, where, you know, my my coordinators that work with our our participants, you know, have literally walked, they're in their shoes, and there's so much stigma out there, there's so much loss of hope. And my coordinators are able to give people hope that we do recover, you can, you can get your life back, you can get your kids back your house back, you can get a job, you can go back to school, you can do all these things, you just have to be able to manage your disease. And it really gives people hope. You know, knowing that their coordinator has overdosed their coordinator has been Narcan, their coordinator has been to jail. For a while I've had people who have been upstate for years. And because I have some prison programs, they are perfect in that job perfect for that kind of position, because there's a culture in prison. And to work with the inmates, you need to know that culture as well. So I am also a certified family recovery specialist since I am on the family side. So I am certified in that too. And I'm a certified recovery specialist supervisor. So I have as many credentials but letters behind my name as I do in my name. So so a lot sometimes

Melissa M  6:32  
for what you said, I think maybe is what I was trying to articulate. I don't think that I think they become hope less like, there's no getting out of it. So back then I guess the things that we tried were more just medical, not necessarily the emotional part of it, the you know, feeling like someone understood and not feeling like, like you're a freak or something, you know, and there's nobody out there.

Melissa S  7:02  
So many different unique types of places pop up all over the country, which which are phenomenal. The recovery from the organization that I work for, we're the only one that actually operates how to two states, we also have offices in Florida. So we're here in Pennsylvania, as well in Florida. But there's lots of recovery community organizations popping up. And there's lots of different types of treatment facilities that just do phenomenal work. Absolutely phenomenal work for anybody who's willing to go and that's, you know, sometimes the hardest part is good at giving, you know, getting the time to be able to go to treatment to be able to spend that time on yourself. A lot of people don't feel that they're worth that time.

Melissa M  7:46  
Yes, that ties back into the hopelessness feeling, you know, not worthy. Not good enough, you know, no one's gonna care that, you know, we have this. But that is a very deep conversation. And I know, that's part of why I just totally love you is all that you do for those people. And so how did you get into chickens? There is I can't fit the two together how?

Melissa S  8:09  
No, so I think it's genetic, too. So I did not grow up on a farm. But both sides of my family actually were involved like in the chicken industry. My grandparents, my dad's parents, they actually raised chickens for and what and how to stand at market, you know, went to market sold chickens. So you know, my dad's joke is always you know, whenever I have a chicken with a problem, you know, his thing is always well, they never lived here that long, you know, because now we were having, you know, they were broilers and stuff like that. And on my mom's side, I actually have relatives that, you know, they have those really large, you know, the large barns where they, you know, they get the people in? Yes, yeah, we did that whenever I was little. So I literally grew up, you know, whenever we would go visit that side of the family it was, you know, are there peeps in the barn or their peeps in the barn? That's all I wanted to know, is if there were peeps in the barn, because, you know, my uncles would, you know, bring me a glass of pizza to play with for a couple hours. So, you know, once we you know, we build our house and we got dogs and their Yorkies and that terrier instinct is very strong with the kill sometimes. And the joke was always you know, well as his mom allowed to have chickens and it was always Haha, no, because he'll kill them. So, one day my husband was like, here's a couple pictures which one of these chicken coops Do you want? And I was like, Yes, finally. So the coop that I want daddy is like an underground ticket. Daddy. You know? It's it's totally underground. Okay, that's okay. So um, we We bought the cube and we put it together. And we quickly realized this was not going to cut it. You know, it's one of those teeny little ones that you you can you just get your arm into and we're like, oh, Lord. So he began, we began looking on Pinterest and everything like that. And he designed and built me this coop. And it is fantastic. He actually started in our pole barn. And then he moved it outside with a skid loader. So it's a coupe and Iran and then he smashed them together. And yeah, yeah, bato so many details, like my, my door into the run is actually on a slider, it's like, I have to step up and over. And then there's a slider. So it's not like they can get at me they can get out but it's very difficult for them to get out with me going in. It's not like a door that just opens where they could get between my feet. So like, that, like, the attention to detail like that, that he did. You know, it's we've added on to you know, we've had to rearrange things, add more nest boxes, we then we added what we call a day run, which is like an uncovered run where they can go out and just aid in the mountain ground and and there's an expansion plan for that in the near future.

Melissa M  11:26  
That is awesome. We love a chicken daddy who is underground? Who who doesn't make any noise? We just give him a list and he goes for that's true. Where did you get your tickets?

Melissa S  11:41  
I was very impulsive. I went to copper supply went to my I'm very fortunate that I have like two very close to me. So I went to the one in my hometown, and they didn't have any chickens. And I'm like, Alright, so I went over the mountain to the other one and they had chicken. And that was my first mistake is they because I was very impulsive. I hadn't done a lot of research. I bought six straight run babies. Because I want to chickens and I wanted them that day. And law of odds got me and I ended up with three girls and three boys. Now, I realized it could have been the other way. I could have ended up with six boys.

Melissa M  12:26  
Yet. Yes, you could have absolutely you got a half glass or half empty or whatever. It's half full. Did you keep all of them and then add more girls,

Melissa S  12:35  
everyone was telling me? You can't that's a bad ratio. You can't have that many boys, you can't do it. I was determined to prove them wrong. And then my alpha boy proved me wrong. He got into a fight with one of my boys one night. I had a silly I have a silky boy. So he's a little bit more like laid back. And he's cool with not being the alpha. So my two were fighting. And so I knew what I had, I had to get rid of them. So I was very fortunate to find a farm to take him. And in. In that process of taking him to that farm. I had also found a woman online who was getting rid of some girls. So my sister and I loaded the rooster in the truck and we went for a road trip. We dropped off, sir. And we went to this girl's house. And in her backyard. She had these tiny little chicken tractors that were like teepee shaped. And they were shoved full of chickens and my sister. She was just horrified at the condition that these chickens were being kept in because she knew the conditions mind were being captain. And she just was like, oh my oh my god. I'm so I was going to take three my cereal girls, cinnamon toast and crunch. And the girl was like, here's another one. Do you want her? And I'm like, No, my sister's like no you do you want her? Like okay, so for chick

Melissa M  14:09  
Ah, I love your sister!

Melissa S  14:12  
I mean, they were there. Their feet. They were just so dirty. They didn't they didn't even have names. So we brought all four girls home and I did take a huge gamble. And I know I know that I gambled that night because I did not quarantine I don't have the ability to quarantine. And so I know that I took a huge huge risk that night I did the the look no touch free range type thing so that they could see each other. And then at bedtime, I put them all in the coop and I was very blessed because everyone just got along and I had no disease. I was just very, very, very, very blessed that nobody. Yes.

Melissa M  14:55  
I love that. You brought that up though because that is a teaching moment. For our listeners, and they've heard it many, many times from us that you know, quarantine, quarantine quarantine. So, yeah, just nothing against you, Melissa. I mean, most of us probably in the very beginning, we had no idea. We were just throwing chickens from left and right mix them up, you know, why would you separate them? They're just chickens. So yeah, that's a very teachable moment. And I appreciate you being on me.

Melissa S  15:22  
I know. I'm grateful, very grateful. So I, you know, I still didn't have my ratio, right, I had two boys, I still didn't have enough girls. And that's whenever I found out that you can get chickens in the mail.

So I did research. This time, I looked at the different hatcheries. And I actually chose one closest to me. Because I was I was scared for these living tiny beings being in the mail system. Um, so I chose the one closest to me. And I've had success both times I've ordered from them I ordered from them last spring, this last spring, last May. And in the mid and the March before that. So twice now I've gotten mail order babies, and they've been healthy and no problems. My post office calls me I go running in and I am so happy that everyone is safe and alive whenever I open that box.

Melissa M  16:31  
I love that. I love that you went local too. I appreciate that too. A lot of times I try and tell people that there are local breeders, you know, maybe give them a chance nothing wrong with the big online I understand that. But you know, it also cuts down on you know, the shipping stress and where are we at right now are

Melissa S  16:52  
we are at 18 right now. Um, I lost a girl on New Year's night I lost crunch. She was the last of those girls that I had bought from that woman. She was an is a brown golden comment, whatever you want to call them high production girl. And I had already lost her sisters. I lost one to a yo periodontist. And I lost another girl to internal infection. She had been laying lash eggs and I was again determined to save her. And I couldn't. So I had her put down. I didn't want to see her suffer any longer. So I lost all three of those girls. I lost that extra hen as well. I believe she had either a heart attack or a stroke. I came home one night and she was dead on the coop floor. I have three cameras in my coop. And I backed it up to see what happened. And based on what was happening with her. I believe it was either a cardiac event or a stroke. Yeah.

Melissa M  18:05  
blesser How long did they stay with you How long had How long before? They're powerful? Let's

Melissa S  18:10  
see. So I got those girls in July. And I started to have problems with cinnamon laying at lash eggs in November. And then I probably had both of them down the following spring. And then crunch they were about a year whenever I got them from her. And crunch would have been four in March. Yeah. So she left a while. I mean that's

Melissa M  18:41  
yeah, she lived a long time for production part. Yeah, definitely. I only reason I asked is I know it's very sad when you lose them and you try and fight all that you can to keep them but also just wanted to kind of put in your mind that they probably lived longer, way longer than they would have at their original. Yes. I kind of touched that definitely touches. Yeah, that's nice to know that you gave them

Melissa S  19:10  
or tells me that's what I love her. Yeah, she says you know they had such a better life here. Yeah. And then I've lost a couple other girls as well. I lost Henrietta Henrietta was probably my first big time learning moment. I put too much trust in my boys into my two roosters. And what I was doing is I was having my dad let my chickens out for me around three in the afternoon he lives next door and he's retired and so he lets the dogs out for me twice a day. So it was it was winter time you know they were in bed whenever I got home so they weren't free ranging a lot and I felt bad. So I had him start to let the chickens out at three o'clock I get home at five they were in bed I talked The men count them all good. It was the Friday before daylight savings time was to start. So it would have been the last night that they were being free ranged on attended, because after that the time when it changed, and I'd come home and I'd to start free ranging them under supervision. I came home that night, and the chickens should have been in the yard because it was getting later later. And they weren't, I couldn't see them when I pulled in the driveway and I freaked out. And I came running into the backyard and there was a hawk. And he was he was on one of my girls, and she was far far gone. So I was devastated. I was angry at my boys. But at the same time proud of them because they didn't leave all the other girls to safety. All my other girls were hiding under some stuff we had in the backyard, and they were safe. They were scared. But that was my biggest learning moment. And they do not free range without supervision anymore.

Melissa M  21:04  
You do you get comfortable of letting them out. It just takes one time for one loss. And it's like your whole attitude about it just flips it's you can't obviously you can't get your bird back. But you also kind of can't go back to when you didn't feel that way. Does that make sense? Like you felt so free and you know, it was no big deal. And then when something happens it's hard to lose that shake that feeling so we do all we can to keep them

Melissa S  21:37  
yes, yeah. And then my my other loss but other loss was my Gertrude she she had an over mating wounds. And I've learned about over mating wounds because I my ratio was off. I didn't have enough girls, two boys. And I had two girls actually that had been cut sliced underneath their wing by by the roof spurs. And so I became very, yes, I became very weary to checking my girls off whenever they were boosted to make, you know, just put my hands under their wings to make sure I don't feel anything. And sure enough, Gertrude had a weight over mating wound. And this was just this past May. And so she was very flighty. She wasn't quite as tame as the rest. She didn't like be handled. And I brought her in, she wouldn't let me clean it up. So I am very fortunate that my vet will work on my chickens. They don't they aren't an avian vet, they just have they're just women with flocks of their own are fantastic. I mean, they tell me, you know, this, this is all experimental. We'll do what we can. And I took her in, and her wound was worse than any of my other girls wounds. The other girls, you know, they staple them together, gave me some cream and they were all back to normal. They were all fine. gertrudes was a little bit worse. And she actually had to put her under to try to staple her shots. And she said she was just finishing her up and she lost her. Oh, sorry, because we the vet was even shocked that she lost her because she was young, she was healthy. And she she thought she would be fine. So that was even surprised that she lost her. So that was sort of my final straw. And that's when I decided I need to get rid of my one row. He was a little bit big for my girls. And the two was too much. I had new babies coming but obviously it's gonna be a while to those babies can be in there and my that to me, I felt the girls didn't have a good quality of life because of this. So I was again so lucky. I found a girl down the street like six miles away from me that needed a rule. And I took them down and the girls fell in love with him. She had this little polish that I you know I put in she didn't quarantine either. I just put them on the ground. And he she that he took right to him. You know they that little polish was just follow him around like she was just enamored by him.

Melissa M  24:20  
Happy ending to a story. Yes, I definitely your girls are top priority. You know, too many rules. We went over this in the podcast prior but yeah, sometimes you can get away with a older rooster who's more mellow or calm, you know, with a smaller number. It really just depends on many different factors. But I appreciate you that you had the I the desire to watch and see what's going on, you know, how are they behaving? How are they acting? And that is definitely another teachable moment of spending time with your birds. Even If it's just, you know, looking at them, are they foraging? Are they eating? You know, are they, you know, those types of things cues to pick up on? So, yeah, kudos to you Walesa. And that leads me to my question, do you have any tips that you would give to chicken keepers,

Melissa S  25:20  
um, be educated. Read, read, read, watch your girls. I mean, they, they are my de stressor, you know, work, work is stressful, you know, you know, we lose people and stuff like that. So it's stressful, and the chickens are my getaway, you know, I go up there, and I sit with them, or I let them out to free range. And watch them, we actually just put in a fire pit up by the so that when it's in, start a fire and be out with them, because I hate cold. So that's just my relaxation, and like, in my unplug, is just to go up there and watch them and watch them play and fight for worms, and it's just so much fun. But yes, just be aware of your flock, you know, know, when their behaviors off. And by reading, that's how I learned that you need to, you know, when they're when the tails down, there's a problem, you know, so I had found a Facebook group. And I just would read and read and read the post, you know, people would post a picture with this problem, or, you know, mites or whatever. And I would just read all the comments, read all of the all of the information that was getting to this person to try to help their flock and I know, you know, there's this person's opinion and this person's opinion, and I understand that what works for one person doesn't work for another, but still, I was just reading this, so that I would be aware if there was a problem and have half an idea.

Melissa M  26:57  
Yeah, absolutely. Very good. Very good tips. Do you have any other tips for say someone who's getting chicks this coming season?

Melissa S  27:07  
Don't do straight run. Unless you can, unless you can fix it. Don't Don't do straight run. I love my boys. Don't get me wrong. I love the route that I got rid of. I still I'm still in contact with her. She sends me pictures. I send them a Christmas present. She said I can stop by anytime I want. But it's getting rid of somebody is really hard. Really, really hard. So if you if you can't handle that many ruse, please, please, please try to order order ladies get ladies. Yeah,

Melissa M  27:46  
good tip. Yeah, especially if you're not the space for it. You know, the rooster, you definitely want to make sure there's extra space. Give the ladies places to go and hide when they're not, you know, feeling like it and for their well being. So yeah.

Melissa S  28:04  
There's so many ordinances out there too, that don't allow a row. So, you know, I see a lot of people that say, Oh, I can't have one. Well, that's it's planning. I understand. Sometimes they mess up at the hatchery whenever they're trying to sext. But, you know, try try your best to know, to know your your regulations, too.

Melissa M  28:26  
Yes, very good point. Because if you're just doing straight run, and you know for a fact that you can't have a rooster. I think that just adds to the heartache. So yeah, being proactive and knowing your regulations, your ordinances, and those types of things. Yeah, definitely. Where do you see yourself and your flock moving? Do you have any goals for the future for your flock

Melissa S  28:51  
we're gonna do this expansion on their day run. So right now their day run is is uncovered. It's just covered with the the Avery netting and then they have a covered run as well. But that's where they go out and you know, play in because I throw leaves in there and stuff like that. They just bathe in that mountain ground which is really great for them. But I want to make that space a little bit bigger. So that that is definitely in the plans. I went to I went to try not to get new babies this spring at 18 I think I'm good. I want to really try to focus on my garden. This this coming year. Yeah,

Melissa M  29:34  
I definitely gardening is definitely I think that's why I got so aggravated at them because it takes so much work to make your garden and then they were just going in there and just like a bunch of her lungs and I was so mad. Okay, if we don't have anything else to add to the conversation, I'm going to ask Melissa three random questions and see if she can Give us some fun insight. Are you ready? Yes. Okay, if you could be any animal what would it be? And why?