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 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.

Wisconsin State Journal

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PAOLI — Ever since a commercial artist ruined a man’s plans to turn the old grain mill here into a colossal car-crushing enterprise about 35 years ago, good luck has graced this quirky unincorporated village that draws an eclectic mixture of artists, bicyclists and nature lovers.

Bill Hastings saved Paoli when he outbid a scrap metal salesman for the historic mill buildings at a sheriff’s auction and then turned the structures and two other Civil War-era buildings into unique shops, art galleries and restaurants that have helped give the village its special ambiance.

The upbeat unofficial mayor of Paoli basks in the glow of its many successes, including its preparation for an expected influx of kayakers, canoeists and fisherman from a new Dane County park adjacent to Paoli that already has drawn rave reviews from shop owners here.

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Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Television

Wisconsin Life May 5, 2014 | Wisconsin Public Television | May 5, 2014

Chickens are funny. Chickens are quirky. Chickens can be heartwarming and cute. But that's not what makes backyard chicken-keeping the fastest growing hobby in America. Chickens are our connection with the natural world and with the food we eat at a time when many of us feel in danger of losing that connection to the land and the seasons. That's what this segment on WPT's Wisconsin Life is all about.

That connection ultimately is what brought Wisconsin Public Television to CLUCK the Chicken Store. Most of us in Wisconsin are no more than one or two generations removed from the land. And keeping urban chickens is a way we can reconnect with our heritage and our history.

Chickens get cold, too

How local chicken owners keep them warm | Jessie Opoien | January 8, 2014

(This is a brief excerpt from a longer story in The Capital Times that also quoted two Madison chicken-keepers about their strategies for keeping their chickens warm during the polar vortex. Please follow the link to read the entire story on the website.)

The number one rule when taking care of chickens in the cold is to use common sense, said Susan Troller, owner of Cluck the Chicken Store, in Paoli.

"Safety first" is the rule for supplemental heat, Troller said. Space heaters can be a fire hazard. For small, backyard coops, she recommends filling up a few gallon-sized jugs with hot water and letting the heat dissipate, or heating bricks in an oven and wrapping them in towels. Larger coops can use ceramic heating lamps or heaters designed specifically for animal enclosures.

Chickens need lots of water, and in addition to making sure it's thawed, it can be helpful to give them warm water to help warm them up, she said. Giving the birds some extra scratch grain late in the day will also help keep them toastier.

Animals need to be able to get out of the wind, Troller said, adding that she wraps the run of the coop in plastic to help shield it.

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Social Media, Chicken Feed & Plein Air Painting…

Courtney Scanlan, 23, is taking the Paoli art scene into the world of social media one gallery at a time.
Courtney is currently running the social media marketing campaigns for both Zazen Gallery and Cluck the Chicken Store in Paoli, WI. She’s also working with the Paoli merchant’s association in helping draw a younger crowd to the town, which has long been known as an artist community.

Zazen Gallery is owned by Richard Judd, a renown furniture designer whose work includes seats and tables made of beautifully bent wood. Cluck the Chicken Store is not only a chicken supply store, but also an art gallery.

Courtney’s professional career started much like many of her generation. She graduated college from Truman State University in Missouri with an English degree and didn’t have a job or much money. So she moved back to her hometown of Monticello and started hitting the streets trying to garner some experience. She sent emails to every art gallery in Paoli.

“I loved working at my school art gallery. That enlightening process and watching people be inspired was amazing,” Courtney said. “I told Richard I would work for free, but he decided to hire me.”

Courtney realized during an internship that a lot of artists and creative people are struggling to keep up with marketing themselves, and many of them are not taking advantage of various social media such as Facebook, Instagram and e-newsletter campaigns. She hopes to user her experience and continue in artists management.

“I’m really interested in taking the load off these people so they can focus on their craft,” Courtney said. “They don’t teach in art school how to get your work in a gallery. It takes a lot of stamina, and there are so many factors involved.”

Zazen Gallery has been open for 15 years, and Richard Judd has been making furniture for 30. His pieces are so beautiful one would hate to actually use them as furniture. The gallery also features a variety of artwork, including other woodwork and furniture, paintings, glasswork, pottery and more. Judd has his woodworking studio behind the gallery.

I have three chickens of my own, so Cluck the Chicken Store is an amazing gem for supplies, information and best of all, a place where you can “talk chicken” without people thinking you are ridiculous. While the store doesn’t actually sell chickens or eggs, when I visited, the store had three “tween” chicks inside and a few adult hens outside just for fun.

Susan Troller, owner of Cluck, was inspired to start the store in 2012 while doing book readings from “CLUCK, From Jungle Fowl to City Chicks,” a book of stories and essays Sue wrote with the artist Sue Medaris.

The store sells everything from beautiful and quirky chicken-related art and jewelry to chicken supplies such as food and pre-built coops.

“I have always loved the decorative arts,” Susan said. “And I thought, maybe you can have an art gallery and a feed store at the same time.”

Cluck carries the work of many local artists in the form of painting, pottery, jewelry and more. Most of the art is chicken or farm centric. Together with Zazen Gallery, they are hosting a double artist reception Oct. 25, which features the work of local painters Cynthia Quinn and Jan Norsetter. “They both have such beautiful work, and they’re both really well respected with a lot of fans,” Susan said.

The theme is Whole Fresh Local Farmscapes & Landscapes. Cynithia’s work will be at Cluck and Jan’s at Zazen. Together the businesses are trying to make art more accessible and less intimidating for people.

“It’s just this wonderful camaraderie between businesses,” Susan said about Zazen. “There’s a lot of shared sentiment and encouragement between us. I’ve always admired Richard’s work. He’s such a good furniture maker, designer and such a nice guy. We’re good neighbors.”

Susan saw how effective Courtney was for Zazen Gallery, so she also hired her to help with social media marketing for Cluck.

“The traditional marketing comes easily to me.” Susan said. “But with social media, you have to have a really strong message. You have to know how to use it effectively, and it has to be beautiful.”

It just takes a click, a peck and a very smart chicken

Wisconsin State Journal | GAYLE WORLAND | September 1, 2013

Need tips on training your dog? Here’s one:

Get a chicken.

Animal trainer Giene Keyes has spent decades teaching pets good manners, but it’s only since Easter — when her family brought home five baby chicks — that she’s learned just how smart a hen can be.
In the process, she’s also discovered how training a chicken makes it easier to teach an old dog new tricks.

With patience, repetition and something called “operant conditioning,” Keyes has taught two of her young hens how to distinguish patterns and find the center of a target. They’ve been trained to recognize colors, circle a cone, and go into a dog crate, turn around and sit down.
And they’ve learned how to refrain from — you know what.

“Oh yes, you can potty-train a chicken,” Keyes said.

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