by Crystal Sands
There is nothing more hopeful to me that baby chicks in the spring. The first time I heard a baby chick cheep from inside the shell, the first time I saw a baby chick hatch, the first time I witnessed that will to life, I was changed forever. You truly see the magic that is this life when you live in a farm, and my love of chickens for teaching me so much led me to seek out an interview with a reputable chicken farm here in my home state of Maine.
I was so pleased to find Andrew Doiron of Why Not Farms, and I was thankful he sat down with me for an interview about his homestead and how he manages a small business of hatching healthy baby chicks that he sells across the state.
Andrew says his family got into the chicken business because of his daughters. He said one of his daughters, in particular, really loved visiting the chickens at his father-in-law’s farm. “She loved to see the chickens and to collect the eggs,” he said, so he decided to get some chickens for his daughters. They started with 8 baby chicks. “We got the catalogs and researched the different breeds,” he said. “We would circle the ones we wanted,” he continued. He explained that the internet was around at that time, but he emphasized that there’s something special about the chicken catalogs. I can attest to this. We now mainly hatch our own chicks, and when I am looking for specific breeds, I look for reputable, local poultry farms like Why Not Farms, but I still love to look at the chicken catalogs and research and dream every Spring. It’s what we do.
Andrew said the day the baby chicks came in the mail, he picked up his daughter from school, and they went together to the back of the post office to pick them up. “And things just kind of went from them,” he said. As I listened to Andrew tell this story, I could tell that he was so much like me in that he was hooked on the magnificence of chickens from that first box at the back of the post office. I was standing at the big doors of the post office when I whispered into a cheeping box, “I’m your mama.” I never looked back. Neither did Andrew.
That was about 8 years ago for Andrew, and today Andrew raises and sells purebred chickens as an NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Plan) certified breeder. His breeds include Lavender Orpingtons, Marans, Crested Cream Legbars, Seramas, Silkies, and Salmon Faverolles. “We have certain breeds that we focus on and try to improve those breeds based on the standards,” he said. “We want to give people a quality product, a healthy bird, that they’re going to enjoy–and we’ve had pretty good success with that up to this point,” he added. I feel it necessary to add that I am on his list for some Salmon Faverolle and Maran hatching eggs this year, and I am excited to add chocolate and cream eggs to our colors and grateful to be able to get chickens from such a reputable breeder.
Why Not Farms does more than sell chicks, they also work to provide education to their customers and others online. Andrew works with his customers “the whole way.” “If they have questions or a struggle, even two years down the line, we try to help them,” he said. Andrew has a strong educational presence in the Maine chicken groups of Facebook, which is where I met him, but he also provides education from his own Why Not Farms Facebook page. He posts videos and spends Sunday nights answering questions for free, helping others the way he was helped when he first started keeping chickens, he says.
This education that Andrew provides is particularly important because, just as with all topics on the internet, there is a lot of misinformation and confusing information about chickens on the web and in social media groups. It can be really difficult for new chicken keepers to discern fact from fiction. I think topics like chicken keeping really lend themselves to misinformation because it’s difficult to separate luck from evidence. My conversation with Andrew took a turn into this issue, and we discussed the struggle. We both agreed that there is also a struggle admitting mistakes in some circles of chicken culture, which can make it more difficult for people to learn. This is definitely part of what motivates Andrew to keep doing the good work he does.
Chickens and chicken education are not the only focuses of Why Not Farms. Right now, they are busy tapping trees for making Maple syrup, and during the winter, Andrew, a true creative, carves wood into ornaments, walking sticks, and more. I am a particular fan of his Santa faces he carves. Andrew says, “They’re not always the most polished, but we do our best, and why?” I emphasized to him that it’s the authenticity and that lack of “polish” as he puts it that makes them so magnificent to me.
If you are in Maine and looking for Lavender Orpingtons, Marans, Crested Cream Legbars, Seramas, Silkies, or Salmon Faverolles, consider Why Not Farms. If you are not in Maine, look for a local, certified NPIP certified chicken breeder to support. Of course, small farms are not able to sex baby chicks (an extremely difficult and dangerous-for-the-chick endeavor) the way the large hatcheries are, so that’s something to keep in mind.
And if you are just looking for some good chicken education, join Andrew from Why Not Farms for his Sunday night Chicken Chats through Facebook Live at the Why Not Farms page.
photos courtesy of Andrew Doiron