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Featured Farm Craft: Tara K. Collins (Urban Farmer)

How long have you been practicing the traditional skill of keeping chickens? 

I raised chickens as a child but my mom will tell you I just played with them and never helped with the chores. When I bought my house three years ago, I was able to get backyard chickens again. It has been a love affair ever since.

What (or who) inspired you to learn this skill? 

I have always been interested in self sufficiency and regenerative farming practices. I was inspired to get chickens because I remembered how much joy they brought into my life as a child. Chickens are silly and so entertaining. They will bring you more joy than you ever could have imagined.

What specific breeds do you like to raise? Do you buy chicks or hatch them yourself? If you buy them – what is your favorite hatchery? If you hatch them – what is your  favorite incubator to use? What’s that process look like? 

I have a mixed flock right now with blue copper maran, golden cuckoo maran, buff chantecler, golden laced bantam and ameracaunas. Haterchies I love include @alchemistfarm, @skygirlfarm, @thesilverfoxfarm and @maybloomacres. I hatched 3 chicks last year under a broody hen and it was the sweetest experience to watch. I will definitely do that again one day. I haven’t incubated eggs yet just because my space is limited but that is something I will do in the future as a chicken breeder.

What do you enjoy most about the “keeping of chickens” process? 

I enjoy every aspect of chicken keeping. Even the poop! You can use that in your garden to make the most magnificent compost. Watching baby chicks grow into laying hens is incredible. When you raise chickens you become excellent at problem solving. The pecking order and chicken antics can be a real problem for chicken keepers but I love to figure out what they are trying to tell me. A lot of times unwanted chicken behavior is a result of something we as humans may have introduced to their environment. Is the coop too small? Are they bored? Is there something I can do as a chicken owner to restore harmony in the flock? A lot of times there is and I love figuring that piece of the puzzle out.

How do you live symbiotically with your chickens? Do you carry out certain practices that ensure the health of your flock? If so, what are they? 

The chickens really tell me what they need. I feel very in tune with them and can observe right away when something just isn’t right. I observe their behavior daily, feed them high quality food and scraps in addition to flock inspections to check for things like bumblefoot, mites, and sour crop.

Why do you keep chickens? For eggs, meat, fertilizer for the garden, education,  entertainment, etc..?,  

First and foremost they are my pets. I raise them for the joy and entertainment they bring into my life. Their eggs are really just a perk of keeping them. I use their droppings for fertilizer in my garden.  Most recently, I have taken my knowledge of raising chickens and created  a one-stop shop for newbies to learn how to raise chickens too. There’s nothing I love more than helping other urban folks raise backyard chickens.

You teach folks how to raise backyard chickens with your online course “Starting From Scratch”. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s in the course and why someone  would benefit by taking it? Where do people find and sign up for this beginners course?  

This course has everything you need to get started! I cover selecting your chicken breeds, setting up the brooder, bringing your baby chicks home, the anatomy of a good coop and how to predator proof it and so much more! It is comprehensive, self-paced and folks get instant access to all the content when they enroll. When you are first starting out there is SO much information out there and different schools of thought. This course takes out all the guess -work and endless searches on google. If folks are interested in the course, they can reach out to me directly by direct message on IG. I want to make sure it’s the right fit and have a conversation about what they are looking for.

What additional resources or materials do you recommend for others interested in  learning the traditional skill of keeping chickens? 

The Chicken Chick, Fresh Eggs Daily and Tilly’s Nest are all great blogs with more information about raising chickens.

My Urban Farm Story❤️ 

Where are you located?

Oakland, California.

How and/or when did life as a farmer, rancher or homesteader begin for you?

I grew up in a small beach town in Southern California but always dreamed of living on a farm. I have an urban farm now but one day will have more space to have my farm dream come true.

Who or what influenced you to become an urban farmer?

I’ve always had a deep connection with nature and animals. This connection had me interested in raising and living amongst animals in a way that is harmonious with nature and honors both the land and the livestock.

What do you grow and/ or raise? 

I grow food in raised beds in my front yard and raise backyard chickens. This spring I will be getting quail to add to the urban farm.

What traditional methods do you use on your farm to grow your crops and/or raise  your animals? 

I look to the red jungle fowl, which is the grandfather of chickens, to create a backyard that is ideal for how chickens used to and still like to live. Chickens prefer to be under trees and amongst shrubs. They forage for many hours during the day and have a routine that is instinctual and very similar to that of their ancestors. I aim to provide this same environment for my own backyard flock.

What resources do you find invaluable to the novice farmer?

I offer a beginners course for raising backyard chickens. I remember how overwhelmed I felt at the beginning and wanted to create something to help others avoid my same struggles. That’s how ‘Starting From Scratch’ was born.

What is at least one farm tradition you uphold?

Sharing with neighbors and community. I love connecting with others and sharing the fruits of our labor. Whether that’s eggs, honey or things grown in the garden.

What inspires you to continue a farm lifestyle?

I hope to inspire others to raise chickens and grow food even if it’s on a small scale like I do.

What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom do you hope to impart on the future  generation of farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, and homesteaders? 

You will constantly learn and be challenged as a farmer. Listen to what the plants and animals have to say. They are our greatest teachers.

Where can people find you/your farm products online?

Folks can find me on Instagram. I look forward to connecting with you!!

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