If you keep chickens in Maine, or really anywhere in the United States, chances are, you’ve heard of Fresh Eggs Daily and Lisa Steele. Lisa Steele publishes books, speaks at the national level, and even has her own television program. I first discovered Lisa’s chicken advice when I was searching the web several years ago for information about what might be wrong with one of my hens. I remembered stumbling upon Lisa’s famous site, Fresh Eggs Daily, and feeling like I had hit the chicken advice jackpot.
Lisa Steele advocates natural chicken keeping as much as possible. I remember reading a comment she made about natural chicken care. Her thoughts were, “why not try it”? And I thought, “indeed”!
Over the years, I’ve learned so much from her books and her site. I’ve recommended her work to those who are just getting started. Our family has been keeping chickens for three years now, and we have a very happy, healthy flock thanks to her teachings and advice.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Lisa Steele for an article for the Bangor Metro. It’s on newsstands now, and getting to chat with her made me realize that it would be great to share some of her story here in my blog for the BDN.
We have a chicken-lady national celebrity, right here in Maine! I was able to ask her a few questions, and I thought my readers would enjoy her responses.
How did you get started keeping chickens?
Lisa is a fifth-generation chicken farmer, and she grew up around chickens. But she had a rather interesting start to the chicken-keeping gig. She wanted goats, but her husband suggested chickens.
I wasn’t terribly excited about chickens; my childhood memories mostly consisted of a mean rooster chasing my brother and myself, and mean chickens pecking us as we tried to collect eggs. But I figured I would agree to the chickens and then work on the goats. Before my husband could change his mind, we were at the feed store picking out six baby chicks, and I found myself building a chicken coop in the backyard. It is kind of ironic that I didn’t even really want chickens at first, and look what it’s turned in to.
What’s your favorite part of being able to help others learn about natural chicken keeping?
I am proud of is having brought back and re-popularized so many old-timers methods that had largely been forgotten, such as the deep litter method, nesting box curtains, and using herbs in chicken keeping. It’s so encouraging to me to see commercial poultry farms and feed companies start incorporating herbs into their regiments as well. I work with several poultry scientists and more and more study is being done on the benefits of herbs for poultry, and I can’t help but think that I had something to do with it. Much of what I do and recommend is contrary to conventional wisdom, but I really believe in using natural methods and am so encouraged year after year that more and more chicken keepers are also getting behind that mentality.
What projects are your working on now?
The project I’m most excited about currently is my television show (Fresh Eggs Daily with Lisa Steele, a 30-minute “chicken lifestyle” show that airs on the CW in the Portland viewing area). I love that I can reach a completely different audience via television and YouTube than I do on social media. I love the whole process of sitting down and plotting out an episode and then seeing it come to life on film. We have four more episodes scheduled to air this year and plans are in the works to expand into several different markets, as well as to put some of the episodes on DVD.
I [also] have a new book (my fifth!) coming out this fall. I really hope that my readers will be excited about it. It’s a compilation of my best tips, tricks and advice that I’ve learned over the past (nearly) decade of raising my flock.
Can you tell us about your current work related to chicken-keeping laws in Maine?
I have learned that chickens are banned in many towns [in Maine]. That is really kind of crazy to me because Bangor, one of the largest cities, is still more rural than many suburban areas of the country that allow chickens. There are even urban areas around the country that are starting to allow chickens, realizing the vast benefits they offer from fresh, available food to insect control to stress-relief.
I’m pretty sure that the Founding Fathers didn’t include anything in the Constitution about the right to raise chickens because they just couldn’t imagine a world where chickens weren’t allowed. But I do think that everyone should be allowed the right to raise chickens, and I would like to guarantee that in the state of Maine at least.
Lisa Steele has done amazing things for both chickens and chicken people on a national level. I’m excited to be able to share some of her story and hope to share more in the future about her journey toward Maine chicken-keeping legislation. I hope you’ll join me as I chronicle some of her journey!
Crystal Sands is the co-founder of Blue Moose Publishing. The company’s first children’s book, Why the Moon Tumbled Out of the Sky, featuring a poem about her favorite chicken named Poe, is available for purchase at several Maine bookstores, including The Briar Patch in Bangor, and online at Blue Moose Publishing.