Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:42:00 PM

Avid Homestead worked with Lisa Cisko's First Grade Class for their science study unit to provide all the materials for a spring chick hatching project.  Two incubators and 3 dozen eggs were provided for our FIRST EVER assist to a school class hatching project.  One incubator filled with duck eggs went to Mrs. Richard's adjoining kindergarten classroom.  The rest were placed in an incubator in Mrs. Cisko's class.  The eggs were separated in kind because chicken eggs take approximately 21 days to hatch and duck eggs take approximately 28 days to hatch.  BOTH projects were made a bit easier by the addition of an automatic egg turner tray which gently rotates the eggs about 180 degrees every 8 hours or so, much like the natural egg turning procedures that a nesting hen would perform.

Because Brevard County just recently has changed code to allow backyard chickens (as of January 1st, 2013), there were few local farms that could provide enough "extra" hatching eggs.  Most were just getting THEIR incubators ready for the many new purchasers that would be catching springtime "chicken fever".  Fortunately, we were able to visit our good friend Nancy Evans Sutton at Sutton Farms in Volusia County who was able to provide us with most of the eggs we needed and a spare incubator.  ONE MILLION THANKS for your generosity and for sharing your bountiful knowledge with our school children here in Brevard!!

Mrs. Cisko really brought everything together well and had a fairly sophisticated set up.  A NEW Hova-Bator model # 1602N incubator with egg turner, temperature stabilized at 99.5 degrees and almost constant humidity monitored by a hygrometer at 60%, then upped to 70% during the last week.  A candling device was provided so that the progress of the eggs could be checked and monitored.  After 5-7 days, any egg that appears completely translucent with no development will be removed as this egg was not fertilized at the farm.  Other fertilized eggs at this time show small red veins beginning to form inside if the chick is developing.   A small video camera was placed on a tripod and linked to a television screen so that the children could watch the progress of the eggs and then the chicks emerge from the eggs during hatch.

What an EXCITING conclusion to this project at hatch day!!!  The eggs came from a mixed breed variety of chickens so EACH CHICK was a SUPRISE!  One was black and fluffy from a silkie mixed bird, two were covered in down flecked with a million small speckles like their Easter egger mom, two came out of the eggs all bright and yellow but with small feathers already growing down their legs ....the kids were especially delighted with the TWO TURKEN mix chicks who came out of the eggs with long, BARE naked necks!



Carys checking on the egg progress with Mrs. Cisko.  A small step stool allowed each child to see the eggs and then progress and movement was monitored on a closed circuit camera and viewing screen.  The hatch rate on both the chicken and duck eggs was about 35% with all chicks being adopted by the teaching staff, Avid Homestead or other local farms.  The monitor picture below actually shows a couple of the chicks just as they are breaking through the shell on DAY 21!



  NERA, one of the Gardendale chicks growing bigger here at The Farmhouse every day!  We just LOVE her little black feathered pantaloons!


If you would like assistance with a hatching project for your classroom, please contact Avid Homestead for more information.  We have a series of small incubators for classroom projects, hand out materials and can help you source fertile eggs or place project chicks once your class is complete.  Please email for more specific details.






Friday, December 7, 2012 3:54:00 AM

Florida Today article dated December 6, 2012 - SECOND LEGAL READING of the proposed code revisions to allow backyard chickens



Friday, November 30, 2012 12:14:00 PM

AVID HOMESTEAD will be at The Green Marketplace in Cocoa, Florida on Saturday December 1st for the HOLLY MARKET - all Christmas shoppers, chicken code changers and FESTIVE FEELING individuals are invited to come out and visit with us!  Toby Napier who is working on code change for Brevard County and Erin Cross who is working on code change for the City of Rockledge will be on hand to answer any questions about upcoming meetings with the various government entities that you can attend, what is currently proposed as new code in the county and city and what you can do to continue supporting our efforts!  The Holly Market features NATUREWISE PLANTS, gourmet foods, natural soaps,fresh eggs and garden veggies, handmade arts and crafts, tie-dye clothing and MORE!  A perfect first stop for locally grown produce and products that support small business and our local economy!!!  COME ON OUT and VISIT with us - we look forward to talking with you and sharing some good holiday cheer!





Sunday, November 11, 2012 9:35:00 PM

PER the Planning and Zoning Board, here is the newly proposed code for backyard chickens in Brevard County:

The proposed code has gone through extensive discussion and was presented to the Brevard County Planning Commission where is passed 6 in favor / one opposed.  Before the new code change comes into effect, there must be two legal readings before the Board of Commissioners in November and December and the revisions to the existing code have been published in the local paper to meet state requirements.  Beginning in January, 2013 - BACKYARD CHICKENS are permitted in Brevard County Florida!!!

If you wish to read the SIX PAGES of the original document, then you may see the new code in its entirety here:
CLICK on the AGENDA PACKET on the November 13th meeting date and scroll through the document to pages 954-960.

CONGRATULATIONS BREVARD COUNTY!   You are on your way to increasing our personal property rights, self-sufficiency and a more healthy, economically grounded lifestyle !!!!  USE YOUR NEW PRIVILEGES WISELY - please contact Avid Homestead if you have any questions!



ROBIN FISHER - Know YOUR District 1 Commissioner in Brevard County 

Friday, October 12, 2012 10:39:00 AM

We appreciate everything that you have done, the time that you have spent in talking with your constituents, your open mind to the issues and your DUE DILIGENCE in getting the FACTS of the matter.

CDC and USDA Advisory Notice for Proper Handling of Baby Chicks 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 2:22:00 PM

FLYER is compliments of STROMBERG'S Chicks and Game Birds Unlimited of Pine River, Minnesota

Winter Park, Florida Makes Progress with Backyard Chicken INITIATIVE! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012 8:03:00 PM

The city of Winter Park, Florida is re-considering backyard chickens.  After a century of prohibition, rules are finally being considered that would allow 5 hens on residential property within the 8.7 square miles of the city limits.   The group organizing this change, the Winter Park Backyard Chicken Initiative, has met and exceeded their original goal of 500 signatures that they will present to the city council.  Citing local cities and communities who are embracing this movement, including Brevard County, the group will continue to garner support and signatures before their presentation to local government officials. 

READ MORE about their efforts here:

You can also follow along with their efforts and find out about ways to help and participate on their FACEBOOK PAGE ~ Winter Park Backyard Chicken Initiative


  SOLO says "GO, GO chicken change!!!"  Solo is an 11 month old barred rock hen who is Brevard County's poster chicken for code change.  She lives in Cocoa, Florida with her friend and "supporter" Carys

Protecting Your Chickens from Predators 

Saturday, September 29, 2012 12:00:00 PM


This stunning photograph was taken by Stephanie Riggan as this defiant bird of prey prepared to devour their favorite backyard chicken, a medium-sized silkie hen.  The attack came in broad daylight and quite unexpectedly, as many predator attacks do. Even a direct dousing with a high pressure water hose could not drive him away from a warm meal.  Eventually, resignation to NATURES WAY allowed this young hawk to complete his meal in peace, with the family sadly contemplating additional precautions for the rest of the flock.

EVERYBODY LOVES CHICKEN!!! So when you acquire your first few chicks or hens, consider that not only friends but FOES will be surveying your area as a new food source!!  A few simple precautions are in order to protect your new fancy flock of family members.


There are many ways to deter predators, and establishing a routine with your backyard flock is one of the easiest ways to do it.

  ~ BE SURE to securely close and LOCK THE COOP doors, hatches or pop holes EACH NIGHT.  This is especially important when you have younger birds or if you are integrating new birds into an existing flock.  Chickens like to have a safe roosting area at night and the lock-in establishes where YOU prefer that they be.  Most chickens retire to the hen house at night, but any birds who resist and try to roam may be easily trained if you are consistent about putting them away.

~Do a head count twice a day - everyday.  Doing a simple count each day assures that you are aware of the quality and condition of your birds.  A missing bird or chick quickly alerts you that a predator could be at work. 

 ~  Keep nesting boxes well above the ground in a secure area inside the coop enclosure.  Eggs and small chicks are perfect prey for snakes and even rats if the nesting area is too close to the ground. 

~  WISELY MANAGE YOUR FEED OUTLAY.  Wasted food scraps, vegetable rinds and ends, broken eggs or wet food on the ground is very attractive to any number of pests.  A particular problem here at The Farmhouse and all over Florida, feed on the ground attracts and encourages huge nests of FIRE ANTS which are then difficult to get rid of without dangerous pesticides in, near and around the birds.

~  OVERALL CLEANLINESS discourages PROBLEMS!  From time to time, you may inexplicably lose one of your chickens.  PROMPTLY remove any carcass, broken eggs or excessive feathers (during molt) from the coop.  The scent of an expired animal is very attractive to predators such as foxes, skunks, dogs and even bears.  Many of these animals are scavengers and carrion makes for an easy meal.  This type of predator quickly returns to transform ALL of your flock into carrion!!

~  Most predators have sharpened olfactory receptors to locate prey.  Products like DOG-B-GONE and SerpentGuard are formulated to offend the senses and drive away animal intruders.  Hunters often use urine to attract or conceal their presence with quarry because it is such a strong, message filled scent marker.  Human urine lightly sprinkled around the chicken coop has been used to drive away cats, coyotes and foxes and is used in much the same way that hunters do - a natural repellent.  CAREFUL not to use too much or your coop will be HUMAN REPELLENT as well!!!


Predators range in all shapes and sizes from the lowly yard snake to the Florida Black Bear.  In a residential setting, however, the more common marauder is the neighbor's free roaming cat or digging dog.  Make sure that a perimeter fence has no loose boards or link connections.  Look for low areas where stray pets or wildlife can pass through or are encouraged to dig under.  Feral or free roaming cats can be easily deterred by a strand of hot wire placed at the top of the fence.

Hawks are also very active chicken predators.  Most birds of prey, including hawks and owls, are state and/or federally protected species.  Harsh penalties are imposed if you try to take permanent, lethal action in discouraging their forays.  Hawks and owls hunt animals as small as mice and bugs from the air so they are equipped with remarkable, binocular vision - able to focus in and out rapidly to efficiently track their next meal.   A photograph such as the one above is VERY RARE.  Usually when a hawk attacks, the only clue that you have is a scattered pile of residual feathers and very little else.

One of the most effective ways to discourage air raids from this shrewd avian menace is to place items that they find to be visually disturbing near your coop or close to where your birds free range.  Mirrors attached to doors or coop roofs flash in the sunlight and interrupt their visual focus. Ordinary computer CDs dangling from a string that allows them to turn in the wind with quick, brilliant flashes has a similar effect.  Limiting the "swooping" area also deters many birds of prey.  The addition of a section of open wire fencing atop an existing fence or heavy duty fishing line strung across your yard will not give the larger birds enough area to manipulate in to to snatch one of your chickens.  Here at The Farmhouse we also make an effort not to let our birds free range too early in the morning or at dusk when we have observed more hawks scouting around for a meal.

Other things that confound predators are the addition of simple elements in your yard that allow the chickens to hide out.  Areas that can offer some shade, cover or camouflage can really make a difference in saving your birds.  Lawn chairs and tables, shrubs or even an old toy box or play house make an excellent place for chickens to hide under or fly up into in case they need to get away.


The solid foundation for a safe flock is a secure coop.  A secure coop is structurally sound, self-contained and has a few design extras that promote security.  The typical woven hex wire that is commonly found on chicken coops EVERYWHERE works very well for keeping birds IN.  However, hex wire DOES NOT work well in every instance for keeping predators OUT!!!  Some snakes can wriggle through the 1" mesh and raccoons and opossums are NOTORIOUS for pulling stray chicken body parts through the wire for a destructive snack.  Pulling through the wire may only get a chicken leg or a head, but the bird will most likely die after this type of attack.  These photos show some GOOD BASIC COOP PRECAUTIONS:



~ Chicken wire aviary section of the coop has and additional layer of exterior hardware cloth overlay about 2 feet above ground level.  Hardware cloth wraps UNDER the inside of the coop for about 6" to discourage digging in or out.  Mesh screening over the top cuts down on the hot sunlight, prevents pine needles and leaves from hanging in the wire and acts as a screening device for flying predators.

~  VERY STURDY coop door made out of pressure treated lumber (2X4) that would be difficult to pry open and should resist warping.  The door also has a secure latch that must be manually closed each time.

~Soffit ventilation points at the roof line are screened over with hardware cloth (this was a later addition due to food seeking squirrel raiders) and the turquoise ventilation "window" on the coop is a recycled commercial a/c vent cover with fine 3mm holes

~  GREEN GLASS BEER BOTTLES planted spout down is a decorative element, but also discourages digging in or out.  VERY INEXPENSIVE and COMPLETELY recyclable too !  Open mesh wire pieces or chain link sections laid at the base of fences or outside the coop allows grass to grown through but almost completely prevents determined animals trying to dig in.  Be sure to overlap the wire sections on the ends and corners and secure with landscaping pins until the grass holds it naturally in place.

~ The second picture shows the two other access points for the coop.  TOP AND BOTTOM clean out doors with secure turn latch closure.  PT lumber is used as much as possible.


Animals such as donkeys, llamas, sheep, certain breeds of dogs, turkeys, roosters and guineas all act as additional predator alerts or as protective animals.  All of these animals have strong guardian instincts and are easily trained to regard a certain area as "theirs" to patrol.  Any intrusive animal is quickly chased away or the "warning" call is sounded for the rest of the animals to be aware and on alert.  Some people think that the true reason that the rooster crows first thing in the morning is to let all of his possible challengers know "HEY!  I made it safely through the night!" and roosters have certainly been known to protect their harem of hens if they feel challenged. In Brevard County, as well as in most densely populated residential communities, roosters are not allowed so the choice of animal protector will have to be more carefully evaluated.   


Motion activated security lights, sound systems, strategic strands of electric fence wire and other flashing night-guard controls are all additional precautions for chicken coops.  Most often, these are employed in areas where there is heavy predator activity or if there have been a number of successful attacks.  Electronic deterrent measures all require planning beforehand, additional materials costs and probably involve a fairly talented electrician or do-it-yourselfer.  If you are willing to spend a little more, many of the electronics now have a solar powered option which helps on costs in the long run and these units are fairly self-contained.  The coop can have plenty of protection without the commitment of hard-wiring or unruly extension cords.  The addition of a timer will make the hours of operation on all of these electronic gadgets a NO-BRAINER.

If your coop is fairly close to your house or an outbuilding, the installation of a motion activated security light may be the easiest alert.  Stealth attacks at night don't happen as frequently once the thief is identified in the SPOTLIGHT.  A low volume radio that is on during the night can also deter night rangers. The constant sound of acid rock music or obnoxious talk radio DOES NOT invite unwanted visitors for dinner.  The hot wire strands and the flashing red eye "NITEGUARD" units should always be placed around the perimeter of the chicken yard AT PREDATOR LEVEL.  For small interlopers, 10-15" off the ground is the appropriate height for this option.  For larger animals, 20-30" off the ground will be sufficient placement.  If digging or climbing predators are unusually persistent, a double stranded periphery hot wire may also be necessary - one wire about 6 inches off the ground (grass allowing) and the next strand about 2 feet up from ground level.

We all hope that we never have to deal with the early demise of any one of our favorite fowl.  With some planning beforehand and a healthy helping of precaution, the goal of poultry preservation and protection can be accomplished. 

INTERNET CENTER FOR WILDLIFE DAMAGE MANAGEMENT has an EXCELLENT check list of characteristics to look for in assessing WHO the predator may be:

Florida Laws regarding birds of prey:

Raptors and the Law:

ELECTRONIC DETERRENTS:  electronic flashing eye deterrent system NITEGUARD:


Margaret Goudelock was a journalism major at the University of Mississippi before she transferred to the University of North Texas to pursue a more lucrative degree in Art History, Painting and French. There is a magnetic sign for Avid Homestead
on the back of her truck and a small soap-box in the back that she will happily step up on with very little provocation.
She is joined in the flag waving effort to get your attention by her husband, Toby Napier – long-wearing sound board and brilliant webmaster for AVID Ms. Goudelock is the mother of two beautiful girls who are both enthusiastic,
creative and love animals. It is for their continued growth and the preservation of a more natural way of life that we strive.

CITY of ROCKLEDGE moves towards backyard chickens! 

Friday, September 7, 2012 2:28:00 PM


 The Planning and Zoning Board for the City of Rockledge met on September 4, 2012 to discuss new rules for backyard chickens within the city limits.  The office of Planning and Zoning for the City of Rockledge had been contacted by local resident Erin Cross requesting code change to allow hens as pets and for egg production (no roosters).  Planner Alex Townsend made her proposals and recommendations to the board regarding rules and criteria for the proposed changes.  After extensive research, Ms. Townsend provided easy, effective recommendations to the board that would make owning chickens easy  
The report reads:












































Mildred - ONE LONELY CHICKEN no more!!! 

Friday, August 24, 2012 11:10:00 AM

While AVID HOMESTEAD has been a small clearing house for most Brevard County chicken code change concerns, there have been MANY INDIVIDUALS who have worked TIRELESSLY with us for making change a REALITY here on our residential properties!!!  Our stronghold of information in the south of the county was focused in Palm Bay and Malabar with two individual families who contacted people, gave feedback for any proposed rules and circulated posters and petitions to small businesses.  There were also two individuals in the more northern part of the county in Cocoa and Titusville who stayed in touch with us almost constantly, vetted articles and wrote newsletters.  While AVID HOMESTEAD has perhaps been the more PUBLIC FACE of this effort, it is really the volunteer hours of the hundreds of committed individuals who brought about code change here in our county.


I am making an effort to contact everyone personally for all the hard work they did, but some of our dedicated volunteers really deserve to be singled out for their unwavering dedication to supporting our efforts towards homesteading and a more sustainable lifestyle.  MOST of the people involved had "illegal" backyard chickens.  ALL of these people stood up and took risks and made some real effort in the community for things that they believed in. All of these PEOPLE operated under CODE NAMES at our house to protect their identities.  My husband and I referred to them as SKYPONIE, MR. Dean, Urban Hillbilly and MS. Naturewise ......THANK YOU GUYS!!!  I would also like to thank our NUMEROUS business partners who furthered OUR efforts in order to promote increased small business opportunities in Brevard!


ALL OF THESE LOCAL RESIDENTS never even considered that code change to allow backyard chickens could not be achieved.  While admitting that the PROCESS could be arduous and complicated, the option of moving from a "chicken outlaw" to code compliant was always our goal.  Encouraging RESPONSIBLE and REASONABLE animal husbandry has always been our motivation.  Fostering an environment of TOLERANCE and promoting individual property rights has also been a big consideration in all of our presentations to the county.  It is our hope that the beneficiaries and proponents of this new rule will responsibly practice the new freedom that they have regained in our county!!


We have also achieved our goal of giving some people RELIEF from CODE ENFORCEMENT.  In a nutshell, Brevard County has moved toward a SIMPLE mathematical formula for allowing backyard chickens in SINGLE FAMILY residential zoning:  4 HENS per half acre with lot size BEGINNING at .5 acres (1/2 acre).  The policy of code enforcement right now is ABATEMENT until the details of the code are sorted out by the Planning and Zoning Department which is anticipated by the end of 2012, just in time for springtime chick purchases!!!.  We at The Farmhouse are particularly thrilled because this will allow our daughter to participate more fully in 4-H activities.  If you are interested in learning how to raise your own backyard chickens, please see our resource page, visit our STORE for books to purchase or contact the University of Florida Extension Office at 321-633-1702.


Pictured is chicken MILDRED with her children owners.  THE KIDS ARE THRILLED that Mildred will now be allowed to have a few friends running around the yard with her!


Another local resident that I want to particularly mention is Mrs. Greenaway who lives in Palm Bay.  She contacted us through the website in October of 2011 and asked us to send her paper petitions by mail.  I passed along all the information that she requested and followed up with a phone call.  In our conversation, Mrs. Greenaway stated that she had LONG wanted to get involved in making changes in the county and city after code enforcement issues over non-native, invasive grass species being cited in her yard led to fines and liens.  Mrs. Greenaway is in her seventies and recently had a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and unable to work or drive.  However, she faithfully promised that if I sent her five petition signature sheets, she would ask her neighbors to help her get around and she felt certain that she could get 100 people to sign!!!  When the call went out for the return of the paper petitions, hers arrived right on time in my mailbox with all pages completely FULL!  This is the REALITY of what people CAN DO in their community.  This wonderful, sweet lady has been such an inspiration to us here at AVID HOMESTEAD!  We KNEW that we could persevere over whatever obstacles might be in our path.  We could NEVER let someone as dedicated as Mrs. Greenaway down!!!


It is just this sort of overwhelming POSITIVE response that has kept us going in our quest for code change, that coupled with the knowledge that a more active, healthy and knowledgeable community would ultimately be the result.  We have empowered families to help themselves and we have enabled our children to reap the abundant benefits of a better, more down to earth lifestyle.  The proof is HERE, in our littlest operative, JR DEAN - the chick magnet:




 Margaret Goudelock was a journalism major at the University of Mississippi before she transferred to the University of North Texas to pursue a more lucrative degree in Art History, Painting and French. There is a magnetic sign for Avid Homestead
on the side of her truck and a small soap-box in the back that she will happily step up onto with very little provocation.
She is joined in the flag waving effort to get your attention by her husband, Toby Napier – long-wearing sound board and brilliant webmaster for AVID Ms. Goudelock is the mother of two beautiful girls who are both enthusiastic,
creative and love animals. It is for their continued growth and the preservation of a more natural way of life that we strive.



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