Friday, March 2, 2012

Gail Damerow, Q&A - Plus My Review of The Chicken Encyclopedia

Welcome to Day One of the Blog Book Tour, sponsored by Storey Publishing in celebration of the release of a great new book. After much anticipation, it gives me great pleasure to publish the following Q&A with  Gail Damerow, author of many books including her latest, The Chicken Encyclopedia , which prompted this tour. (Seeing as how all of you on the East coast are half-way through your day, and I've already gotten an email regarding that - and since I was able to get off work earlier than usual, am publishing this earlier than I said in my last post).

As you may know, this blog book tour has the participation of fifteen bloggers. The list of participants is below in a previous blog, or you can find it at Each blogger will be holding a contest, and the winner, which could be You, will win a copy of this book

Now, on to the Q&A:

Question 1. Could you describe the process or the situation that prompted your deep interest in small scale farming, and chickens in particular - and did your interest develop suddenly or over a period of time?

My grandmother had chickens. My parents didn't. I loved visiting my grandmother and her flock. As far back as I can remember I knew I wanted to have chickens some day. That day came soon after I finished school and went out into the world on my own.

Question 2. Of all the breeds of chickens, which is your number one favorite (and I realize how difficult this choice probably is) - and why?

That is a tough one. I can't say that I have a favorite breed. I like nearly all of them, with the exception of those that tend to be nervous and flighty, and those that tend to be overly aggressive.

Question 3. Which breed of chickens do you raise at this time, and which breeds are you most experienced with?

Over the years I've kept many different breeds. The one I've had the most experience with is New Hampshire. Currently we have New Hampshires, Rhode Island Reds, barred Plymouth Rocks, and black Silkies. The first three are for meat and eggs, the Silkies are garden pets.

Question 4. Which, if any, chicken diseases have you had the greatest problem with over the years, and based upon those experiences, what is the most important message you would like to pass on to readers of this blog regarding prevention and awareness?

When I first started out with chickens I wasn't aware of the danger of bringing chickens together from various sources. In those days I saw a lot of infectious coryza (the chicken equivalent of the common cold) and also battled round worms. I no longer introduce new chickens into my flock and no longer have disease issues. I shudder when I hear about new chicken keepers building a flock by acquiring mature chickens from a variety of different sources.

Question 5. Of all the predators of chickens, which has been the most challenging in your experience? Please share if you have a memorable story you'd be willing to pass on regarding this challenge.

Opossums are our number predators. They eat chicken feed, steal eggs from the nests, and even take a bite out of a live chicken. They can get through pretty small gaps, so we have to put our chickens into lock-down at night.

Our biggest challenge was a bobcat that snagged several turkeys over a period of time. We finally identified the culprit using a motion sensitive trail camera, and then we had difficulty figuring out how she was getting in through the high tensile electrified perimeter fence. With a lot of diligent sleuthing we were finally able to solve the problem.

Question 6. Most of us who've raised chickens over the years can recall several we've had that were special in memorable ways, whether in intelligence, behavior, or unusual relationships with humans , other flock members, or even other animals. Would you like to share a couple of the special memories you have of remarkable chickens you've raised?

We once had a rooster that would run up the driveway to meet us at chore time and walk us to the coop with a lot of vocalizations that sounded so much like he was relating the latest news. He always brightened our day.

Question 7. What prompted you to begin writing about raising chickens?

Not long after I started keeping chickens I became known as the local Chicken Lady and the go-to person for questions about raising chickens. I decided to keep track of the 10 most common questions I was asked, and write up a flyer to hand out. I thought it might save me a lot of time explaining the same things over and over. When my 10-question flyer turned into 20 pages, I realized I had the beginnings of a book.

Question 8. And, did you develop an overall conscious strategy or step-by-step plan for the books you've written from the beginning - or did each one evolve on its own?

Each book sort of evolved as an idea that hatched while I was working on the previous book.

Question 8. Is there yet another book about chickens in the works that we can look forward to following this great (and I think, essential) Encyclopedia?

You bet. My book on brooding and hatching chicks, for which a title hasn't yet been determined, is scheduled to come out at the end of this year, giving readers plenty of time to get ready for next year's chick season.

Okay, there you have it - hope you enjoyed getting to know Gail Damerow. And, a huge "Thank You" to her for responding to my questions!

Now, I'd like to give my reaction to The Chicken Encyclopedia . When I first opened it, I noticed a page of abbreviations often used in describing various chicken related topics. I thought, now that was thoughtful! For example, one of them is FL, and for most people, that would probably conjure up thoughts about Florida, but, no . . . not so fast! FL also stands for Feather Legged! Too many times books contain unexplained acronyms that make it impossible for the reader to understand what they're reading.

Everyone who raises chickens needs a source of reference to turn to, I think that if you only had one book, this should be it, because it definitely covers everthing you could possibly think of related to chickens. The photos, drawings, tables, and charts are - well, simply off the charts! If you want to know the fertilizer value of chicken manure, go to 'M', there's a spreadsheet on page 172. Want to learn about parasites, both internal and external - leaf over to the 'P''s, there's a chart that thoroughly explains all the signs of infestation.

I could go on and on, but the fact is, even though the bookshelves in my house are overflowing with oodles of books about chickens and other topics I'm interested in I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, too!  And it lives up to all its promises, I think the pictures of all the breeds of chickens alone is worth the price - and there's so much more value to it. I had actually ordered it before I heard about this book tour, which is why two of the people who enter my contest on the next post will get one of these books as a prize!

So, check out the questions in the next post, leave your answers in the comment section, and include an email address that you check frequently. All the other details are in a post or two down. But, I should mention again that this contest is open to residents of the United States. It'll still be up at 9:30, Pacific, as promised!

1 comment:

  1. Great Q&A with Gail Damerow! I enjoyed the ancedote about her chatty rooster! I completely relate to the natural evolution of her chicken-driven career; while I never imagined I would ever keep chickens, my life has certainly come to revolve around them and I wouldn't have it any other way!

    Thank you for sharing these interesting insights into an author we all have come to rely on in the backyard chicken-keeping community!
    Kathy Mormino,
    ADozenGirlz-the Chicken Chick


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