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Madison Essentials magazine August 2017

When visitors come through the front door at CLUCK the Chicken Store in Paoli, their first words are often, “What’s a chicken store?”

“That’s understandable,” says owner Susan Troller. “There are no other stores quite like it anywhere. It’s really three stores in one.”

CLUCK is a farm store that sells a complete line of feed and supplies for people who keep backyard chickens. It’s an art gallery featuring original works from local and regional artists. Plus, you’ll find books, housewares, toys, and a surprising collection of gifts, all featuring chickens, horses, bees, and other animals—even chicken enemies, like foxes and owls.

“I have always loved art and home décor,” says Susan. “It is great fun to meet talented local artists and give them a place to show their amazing work.”

Follow the link for the whole story.

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NBC-TV15

On the Road: Paoli | Christine Bellport | August 4, 2016

NBC-TV15 reporter Christine Bellport took a deep dive into the tiny crossroads arts community of Paoli. Her report really only touches on the highlights, but you can hear her enthusiasm. Of course, she had to buy a rubber chicken purse at CLUCK, but she also stopped at the Hop House, Paoli Bread & Brat and the Schoolhouse Cafe & Shops. Click the link above to watch. It's only a few minutes long, but packs in a lot of good information.
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The Larry Meiller Show

Wisconsin Public Radio | The Larry Meiller Show | June 21, 2016

Raising Happy and Healthy Backyard Chickens
June 21, 2016 - 11:45am

More and more people are discovering the fun of having backyard chickens. Our chicken expert will tell us what is required to raise happy, healthy chickens. And yes, you can train them!

Host: Larry Meiller
Guest: Susan Troller

Larry and I talked about chickens for 45 minutes and took tons of calls from chicken lovers all over Wisconsin. Click the link to listen to the show in real time or download it for later.
http://www.wpr.org/shows/raising-happy-and-healthy-backyard-chickens

Madison Magazine May 2016

Bikers Delight | Mike Ivey | June 10, 2016

In the May, 2016, issue of Madison Magazine, writer and avid biker Mike Ivey highlighted Paoli as one of six favorite rides, and one that leads right to CLUCK's front door.

The 30-mile round trip down to this little crossroads town southwest of Madison might qualify as the most popular bike route in the state of Wisconsin.

On warm summer evenings or cool weekend mornings, you can count hundreds of cyclists of all levels heading down Seminole Highway or the Badger State Trail. Riding to Paoli offers a little bit of everything, including some hills on the Range Trail and views of the placid Sugar River.

The opening of the Badger State Trail in 2006 only made things better for getting to Paoli, now providing a traffic-free route on pavement all the way to Purcell Road, where the trail turns to crushed limestone. From there, continue onto Sayles Trail and Sun Valley Parkway into the artsy little hamlet that features Cluck: The Chicken Store, a retailer that caters to backyard-chicken enthusiasts.

Read the rest of the story here.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I attended a unique event last week, held at Cluck the Chicken Store in Paoli and sponsored by Nutrena (animal feed supplier): a chicken taste test.

Nate Pranke, one of two chefs at Cow & Quince in New Glarus, cooked three different types of birds: a supermarket bird, a Cornish Cross raised on local pasture and a Freedom Ranger raised on local pasture. Meat birds do receive supplemental feed, but they eat grass and forage for bugs when raised outdoors.

A few notes on chicken breeds: There are breeds that are best for laying, some that are best for meat and dual-purpose breeds that are good for a bit of both. And just like vegetables, there are heritage breeds that were raised before industrial agriculture became the norm.

Meat birds typically have larger breasts and legs and a fast growth rate and are efficient at converting feed into meat.
Most supermarket poultry is of the Cornish Cross variety — a hybridized species that is bred for lightning-fast growth in a confined area. This attribute results in a meaty bird that can be butchered at 5 weeks in conventional confinement (or 8 weeks outdoors) but also a number of weaknesses:

The chicken's growth is too much for its skeletal system and organs. It doesn't move very much and is susceptible to heart attacks. If this type of bird is raised outdoors, it doesn't forage well or withstand weather changes.

Many alternative poultry farmers are raising modern hybrids, and two of the most popular are Red Rangers and Freedom Rangers.

These hybrids come from heritage breeds and have a slower growth rate and more adept foraging skills, making them a better bird to be raised on pasture. These chickens are typically slaughtered between 9 and 12 weeks.

I took my 5-year-old as a date because (a) he is charming and (b) I wanted a neutral palate who wouldn't be influenced by the type of bird or how it was raised. He was oblivious to the speakers and dug into the three small piles of chicken on his plate when it was set down before him. (The chicken was served alongside bread and a divine coleslaw from Paoli Bread and Brat Haus that was scented with orange zest.)

After my son tested each, I asked him which one he liked the best and the least. He tried them each again and chewed thoughtfully.

He chose the pasture-raised Freedom Ranger as his favorite and the conventionally raised Cornish Cross as his least.

The other guests and I agreed with him almost unanimously. The conventional chicken was very soft and tasted watery (Chef Pranke noted that when he pulled the meat apart to serve, this meat was very soft and completely fell apart). The Freedom Ranger was toothsome (in a pleasant way) and had a more robust, distinctly herb-y taste.

Each bird was prepared the same — brined for 12 hours, rubbed with olive oil and stuffed with lemon and thyme. I'm not sure if the Freedom Ranger meat absorbed the aroma of the cooking herbs more readily or if it was a function of how much it foraged, but its meat was delicious. The Cornish Cross raised outside had a nice texture, but it was less flavorful than the Freedom Ranger.

I spoke with Eric Johnson from Jordandal Farm, who has raised both types of chickens outside on grass. He began raising alternative species eight years ago.

He and his wife, Carrie, are committed to raising poultry in outdoor pens on grass, and the Cornish Cross grew too fast and would just sit in front of the feeders.

This year he raised Red Rangers, and he has raised Freedom Rangers and Kosher Kings in the past.
He prefers them because of their hardiness, good activity and ability to put on weight.

All in all, it was a good experiment. While I am committed to buying local meat that is raised humanely for non-culinary reasons, it helps to know that it also truly tastes the best.

The temperatures are dropping, and roasting a whole chicken is a surefire way to get your house smelling incredible while providing several cost-efficient meals for the family well into the workweek.
My preferred method, if I'm planning ahead, is to rub the meat with salt one to three days ahead of cooking time (see recipes by Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe and Molly Stevens, roasting guru). But if you are working at the last minute, the recipe I've included is a quick, French preparation that yields a delicious bird.

Visit the JSOnline.com site to see Anna's recipe.

Isthmus

Everyone will have chickens eventually | Linda Falkenstein | September 25, 2015

Cluck is one of many attractions in the idyllic bicycle destination of Paoli.

Paoli, the hamlet just south of Verona on the Sugar River, has always been quaint, but the place just keeps getting more charming. On a recent Sunday afternoon, the grassy lawn adjacent to the river was filled with white chairs from a wedding; a steady stream of Lycra-bedecked bicyclists were stopping for libations. Visitors were even arriving by kayak — taking advantage of the cleaned-up river, thanks to the Falk Wells Sugar River Wildlife Area, which begins just upstream. The Paoli House Inn offers a spot to overnight; there are pubs and art galleries, cheese and brats, and, improbably, Cluck, a shop devoted to the backyard chicken-raiser.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Cluck’s not for you if you don’t have a backyard brood. You could call the front of the store a hybrid chicken-themed gift shop and art gallery, though the offerings are more unexpected than you might, well, expect. Paintings by Marcia Sparks, Cynthia Quinn and Anne Stack Connor are currently featured, among poultry-themed aprons, mugs, cards, baby onesies and jewelry.

“We don’t have chickens, but we like to come in,” announces one Sunday visitor, to which clerk Howard Cosgrove replies: “Oh, everyone will have chickens eventually.”

Click the link to read the rest of the story.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Paoli Hopping with Galleries, History and Beer | Brian E. Clark | August 30, 2015

One hundred and fifty years ago, farmers living a dozen or so miles south of Madison needed somewhere to grind their wheat and corn, so they built a mill.

But not just any mill. They constructed an imposing, three-story grist mill on the banks of the Sugar River in the tiny burg of Paoli (pronounced either pay-OH-lie or pay-OH-lee, with locals preferring the former) and diverted the stream to power the mill's turbines.

Today, that cream-colored limestone structure remains the centerpiece of the town, restored in the 1990s by Bill Hastings, who pretty much brought it back from the dead.

Dubbed the Paoli Mill Terrace & Park, a section of the canal that once fed the turbine remains on the east side of the building alongside a large picnic area.

"That mill is a thing of beauty," said Richard Joseph, who runs the Hop Garden Tap Room at the back of the mill.

"Bill did a great job with it. He's retired now, but he had his marketing agency in it. He used to live on the top floor and he still has an office there. The roof was pretty much caved in and the place was a mess when he bought it."

Elsewhere in this quirky little Dane County hamlet you'll find the appropriately named Cluck the Chicken Store.

It's owned by Susan Troller, who's considered an icon in the regional backyard-chicken-raising community. The store has organic and custom-milled feed, veterinary supplies, brooders, waterers and handcrafted coops that could be works of art.

There are also greeting cards, housewares, gifts, original art — all of which celebrate the backyard chicken. The shop is also the place where chicken keepers can learn about the Gallus gallus domesticus, share stories and meet up with other backyard chicken devotees.

Paoli also has a handful of galleries, including the Zazen Gallery, which serves as a showroom for Richard Judd-designed furniture and works of other artists; Totally Wired, which sells purses, handbags, plates, bowls and silverware decorated with wire and beads; Paoli Secret Garden, which sells hammocks, epiphytes, topiaries, living tables and magnets; Artisan Gallery, which displays the creations of 100 artists who work in ceramics, painting and sculpture; the JohnChristineDesigns jewelry studio; and the Paoli Mill Park Gallery, which displays the work of 70 local and regional fine and folk artists.

Follow the link to read the rest of the story in the Journal-Sentinel.

Brava Magazine

Something to Crow About | Meg Rotter | August 8, 2015

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Common sense keeps backyard chicken flocks safe from bird flu

As the highly contagious avian influenza virus continues to wipe out thousands of turkeys and chickens at commercial facilities throughout the Midwest, poultry experts haven’t yet explained why it has minimally affected small flocks that live in people’s backyards or other urban settings.

Of the 7.8 million birds affected by the deadly H5N2 avian influenza virus since late last year, a mere 43 have come from flocks of 100 or less in Midwest states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One of the flocks, which had 33 chickens and turkeys, was in Juneau County; the other was in Leavenworth, Kansas.

“I’m surprised. I thought there would be more (backyard deaths) by now,” said Ron Kean, poultry specialist for the UW-Extension.

For the rest of this story, see the Madison.com website. The story quotes our customer, Jeremy Briggs, and notes that CLUCK carries disposable plastic boots that you can wear when visiting other coops, or that your visitors can put over their shoes if you want to show them your coop.

Chicks on the news

WISC-TV3 News | Jessica Arp | February 10, 2015

Our Lavender Orpington chicks (well, really Ed Peck’s chicks) made a cameo appearance on WISC-TV3 news last night during a news story about the stewardship fund, which helped purchase the Sugar River Wildlife Area near Paoli. They’re excited because they think they’re getting meal worms – and also maybe because they’re big hams and are in love with the camera. Click on the WISC link above to see the story.

Seriously, we are thrilled to have the Sugar River Wildlife Area in our backyard and we’re happy to see more paddlers in Paoli during the summer. The part of the interview that didn’t make it on-air was all about how amenities like parks and trails are vital to attracting and keeping the young professionals and entrepreneurs who represent the future of the Wisconsin economy. We know because two of our three daughters have moved to exactly those kinds of places – Austin and Oakland – at least partly because they have easy access to outdoor recreation opportunities (in addition to great food and other attractions). We would love to see Wisconsin be just as attractive. It won’t happen with trickle down economics or give-away tax policies.

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