Chickens have taken over my life!
Since meeting Charlie in May (read her story here), I have created two pet chicken care classes. "Before Having Chickens" is to get prospective chicken owners ready for the arrival of their new pets. "After Having Chickens" is to empower more experienced keepers to take care of their chickens' health and happiness. I have been teaching these classes since September at De Anza college and Los Altos Hills recreation center. With all the positive feedback I am getting, I am already scheduling classes for 2017! I am also trying new venues to reach out to all chicken keepers in the valley.
These classes were the tangible thing I needed to start my nonprofit: Clorofil. I created a website (clorofil.org) to share resources, promote hen adoption, and publicize the class schedule. I am registering Clorofil with the state to be an official California nonprofit, and have a board of directors!
September 1st, Animal Place rescued 1500 hens from a battery cage egg factory. I was at their rescue ranch to receive them, and stayed for 4 days to help with the initial help checks, de-clumping... These hens were terrified (the farm workers started killing their sisters before we arrived) and it was really hard to catch them to check them out. But they were strong, they learned very fast how to use their wings and roost at night. Another opportunity to learn chicken health care from the ranch manager, my excellent chicken mentor :)
There was also the Tour De Coop in September. We had 100 people in our backyard visiting our girls. A friend from the Humane Society of the United States promoted meatless Mondays and eating less meat in general. Her vegan cookies impressed many :) The tour was the perfect opportunity to talk about my classes and hen adoption. I had gotten 4 hens from Animal Place couple weeks before for that purpose.
We are still fostering them. I was hoping someone would adopt them after the tour, but it didn't happen. I thought that fostering chickens would be something to do on a regular basis, that it would allow people in the valley to adopt hens from Animal Place without having to drive to Vacaville or to wait for the next adoption event. Maybe I should keep my guest coop for emergency local rescue, like the 4 hens I had to catch in a backyard in San Jose.
As if I wasn't immersed enough in chicken stuff, I just took a 5-week online class about "Chicken Behaviour and Welfare" by The University of Edinburgh. I learned quite a bit more about these charming creatures. I also learned that animal welfare is quite different from animal rights!
My next project? Checking out all the local animal shelters, seeing if they take in chickens, adopt them out, and maybe offering some help with that... :)