When we moved to the farm, we had no clear idea of what to do with the property except that we were determined to be good stewards of the land. We had to build fencing to contain our three horses, and modify an equipment shed to provide them with shelter. So here we were, with a beautiful piece of land, and no practical farming knowledge, except for basic horse care. What to do next? I guess the very first thing we did was make arrangements with our wonderful neighbors to cut & bale our hay for us. I was absolutely determined that I was never going to pay for hay again! I think that comes under the heading of "famous last words" because to make hay you need haying equipment....more on that later!
There was an existing chicken coop on the property, so I began to think about keeping chickens. How cool would it be to have my own fresh eggs? Through a friend of mine, I became aware of the ALBC, and their mission to preserve genetic diversity in livestock through conservation of rare and endangered breeds I decided that, if and when, we had livestock I was going to have all heritage breeds. I decided to start with chickens because we had a coop, and they seemed to be easier to begin with than cattle, or sheep or pigs (i.e. I didn't have to build fencing!).
After much research, I chose to have Red Dorking Chickens. The long long history of the breed appealed to the scholar in me. Plus, they were also described as a great all purpose (meat & eggs) breed, and great foragers. I The anglophile in me also liked that they were reported to be the favorite table bird of Queen Victoria. However, it is such a rare breed that finding any was quite a laborious process. I even called the Director of Colonial Williamsburg's livestock program. She referred me to a breeder who sold me my foundation flock.
To be continued......