Spring is a wonderful season at Moss Mountain Farm. Everything starts to bloom and come alive, setting a halcyon mood on the farm. The daffodils and tulips show up in full force, painting the farm with broad strokes of color. We put in a lot of time getting the farm ready for our spring open house tours, which include a visit to Poultryville.
Poultryville is always a guest favorite during tours and workshops. The poultry area on the farm started as a grouping of several mobile chicken tractors, which was rather primitive given the number of birds we have. Over time, I decided to construct a more formal building. I consulted my book on Palladian architecture for inspiration. Palladian architecture is a European style of architecture based on symmetry, perspective, and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Construction on the current structure began in the fall of 2013. Its 22 pens house 25 breeds of poultry, including turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese. It also has a large central area used for our frequent workshops. And, the current mayor of Poultryville is a turkey named, what else, Thom! Poultryville is always a popular stop during the open house tours. Visit pallensmith.com/tours/ for a list of spring tour dates.
Poultryville offers more than just the enjoyment of raising poultry. We strive to provide quality educational workshops and resources to help others raise their own flocks. There are numerous reasons people choose to start a flock — fresh eggs, free fertilizer and pure entertainment are just three great reasons. The Backyard Poultry Day is a great opportunity to learn how to raise your own flock, whether you’re just starting a flock or you’ve been raising poultry for years. Experts will cover topics ranging from getting started with a flock to building coops to flock health and nutrition. Poultry and hatching eggs will be available for sale. The spring workshop is set for Saturday, April 2. Space is limited so don’t wait — visit pallensmith.com/product/poultry-workshop/ to get your tickets.
As the age-old question is frequently asked, which came first — the chicken or the egg? My answer to that question is, of course, the chicken! I became a chicken enthusiast at the age of 10 when I won a blue ribbon for a white silkie hen I showed at the Warren County Fair in Tennessee. Since that time, I’ve raised hundreds of chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, as well as a few swans. I’m continually fascinated by their various shapes, colors, textures, patterns, and, well, their quirky personalities keep me constantly amused. I’m particularly fond of heritage breeds and work to ensure these special breeds are around for generations to enjoy. To that end, the Heritage Poultry Conservancy (wwwHeritagePoultry.org) was created.
This organization is dedicated to the preservation and support of all threatened breeds and strains of domestic poultry through encouragement of education, stewardship and good breeding practices. Heritage breed conservancy is always a popular topic during the poultry workshops. I’m always encouraged by those who attend the workshop and tell me they’re excited to start their own efforts to preserve all heritage breeds. We find that, prior to the workshop, people are not as familiar with heritage breeds, but they’re ready to start their own heritage flock by the end of the day.
P.Allen Smith is a gardening and lifestyle expert who owns and operates Moss Mountain Farm at Roland, northwest of Little Rock.