PRESS RELEASE ~ Backyard Chickens for Brevard with The Chicken Whisperer 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 6:50:00 PM

Avid Homestead is pleased to announce that all of the paperwork has been submitted for a CITIZEN’S REQUEST for code change in Brevard County Florida to allow backyard chickens.  This request is scheduled as part of the agenda to be heard before the Brevard County Board of Commissioners on April 3rd, 2012.  The meeting will be held in the BOARDROOM at 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, Florida beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Andy Schneider

Avid Homestead is fortunate enough to receive assistance in our efforts for code change by ANDY SCHNEIDER  ~ The Chicken Whisperer from Ideal, Georgia .  The Chicken Whisperer is a nationally syndicated radio show that discusses all topics "CHICKEN".  Mr. Schneider will be attending the BREVARD COUNTY BOARD of COMMISSIONERS MEETING on April 3rd to address the  board and answer any questions that they or the general public may have.  We are very PLEASED and PROUD to have Mr. Schneider as our guest speaker who is a powerful voice in the urban homesteading community as a writer for GRIT and Mother Earth News.  SEE MORE ABOUT ANDY HERE:  http://chickenwhisperer.net/index.html

We are happy to finally have a public forum that will join all the forces and the many voices of our community with Avid Homestead promoting CODE CHANGE to allow backyard chickens!!!  Chicken enthusiasts and any individual who supports code change are invited to attend this meeting on April 3, 2012.  PLEASE CONTACT your LOCAL COMMISSIONER by phone or by email to voice your support of backyard chickens if you are unable to attend the meeting!!!

The Brevard County Board of Commissioners will also hear requests for code change from local businesses, local farming families and other concerned citizens regarding backyard chicken keeping.  Please contact us at Avid Homestead if you need anymore information regarding this meeting.

PRO-FLORIDA Produce for Schools: Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:37:00 AM

Florida has no shortage of sunshine and wonderful weather which allows a longer growing season for many fruits and vegetables.  It is an amazing sight seeing all of the overbright orange and yellow bins rolling along down our highways.

UPDATES for Athens University Business Principles Classes 

Monday, March 26, 2012 5:13:00 PM
TO:  Business and Marketing Principles classes at Athens State University

UPDATES on the Avid Homestead website

The AGENDA for the GENERAL MEETING of the Brevard County Board of Commissioners was published today and we are scheduled to speak on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.  As our important date draws ever closer, my husband and I are diligently working with our website to keep the most current information posted there.  One of the best traffic drivers to our site are links from other established websites.  In updating our links to Facebook forums, Craigslist and following up with local activists, we also posted an update on the BACKYARD CHICKENS forum LATE last night.  www.backyardchickens.com

OUR LINK online:   http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/603558/brevard-county-fl-ordinance-change

 

Backyard Chickens website has a nationally syndicated talk show program called The Chicken Whisperer with Andy Schneider who is a regular contributor to magazines like Mother Earth News and Grit.  Our efforts for code change were mentioned on the radio show today.  Mr. Schneider offers valuable, practical advice for chicken owners everywhere.
We received an email from Andy this morning asking if he could speak with us at the Brevard County Board of Commissioners meeting on April 3rd.  If we can coordinate schedules with Mr. Schneider, then we are ONLY TOO HAPPY for him to
be here and assist with our efforts at code change in Florida.
It is important to note that we are making every effort to contact relevent officials, use accurate reference materials and sources and try and answer the MULTITUDE of phone calls and emails that we receive each day with patience and accuracy.  We are pleased that Brevard County officials have offered us this opportunity to make a presentation to the board.  All too often, people who try to initiate common sense and meaningful change are silenced or stymied.   Those of us who will still STAND UP for their rights or for what they believe in are beaten down by "the system"  as in the tragic case that happened outside of
Atlanta today in Roswell, Georgia


Thank you all for the support and assistance that you have offered for our website!  PER YOUR RECOMMENDATION, we now have a FACEBOOK PAGE that you can LIKE to keep up with our small homestead and our progress with code change -  The Farmhouse  Cocoa, Florida.  The link is HERE: https://www.facebook.com/#!/TheFarmhouseCocoaFlorida

Thank you all so much and I hope that you will keep in touch! AND DON'T FORGET TO HEAD BACK TO THE HOME PAGE AND SIGN OUR PETITION!!!

Best,  Margaret Goudelock and Toby Napier

AVID HOMESTEAD Audit by Athens State University ALABAMA Business Students 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 10:43:00 AM

The AVID HOMESTEAD website had the priviledge of being accepted as a student project with Athens State University for the School of Business in Athens, Alabama.  An online WIMBA conference with the web creators and contributors and the students was conducted appropriately enough on NATIONAL POULTRY DAY - March 19, 2012.  Students who participated were from three different Marketing Principles classes under Professors Kerner and Dorn.  The session was skillfully fascilitated by Dr. Mark Gale, Coordinator in the Center for Instructional Technology at Athens State.

Students were asked to evaluate the site on content, graphics and social relevence.  What followed was a valuable discussion of Brevard County Florida rules and regulations and the circumstances that caused this website to come into being.  Past the initial point, students contributed ideas to expand the reach and scope of the website beyond the initial goal of area code change and explore the myriad business opportunites and services that The Farmhouse in Cocoa and the site could offer.  About 50 students will submit evaluations and reports on the site and make suggestions for graphics / photo additions and changes as well as pertinent topics of interest to readers and followers in their demographic.

Toby and I would like to personally thank each person who participated and contributed in this project, especially Professor Laura Lynn Kerner who initialized this project!  The ideas and suggestions that you have contributed so far will be carefully considered as we proceed in our efforts.  We appreciate your support as you continue to monitor our progress for PERSONAL change on the site and CODE CHANGE in Brevard County!

 

MARCH 19th - NATIONAL POULTRY DAY 

Monday, March 19, 2012 5:56:00 AM

Carys & SOLO chicken

Carys HUGGING our Barred Rock chicken SOLO who is about 6 months old now.  She should be laying fresh eggs any day now!

For those of you who can, celebrate NATIONAL POULTRY DAY and go HUG YOUR CHICKEN!!!!  Every year, March 19th is celebrated in the United States as NATIONAL POULTRY DAY.  While no one, especially farmers or poultry fanciers will get the day off from work, this happy spring time holiday prepares us for longer daylight hours which produces more eggs with the hens, puffy yellow baby chicks and verdant pastures full of new grass dotted with healthy, mature birds.

 

For the more FOOD-MINDED, National Poultry Day is another reason to celebrate one of the more healthy contributions to any menu.  Here is a SIMPLE recipe to enjoy:

 

ROSEMARY ROASTED CHICKEN

1 5-7 pound whole chicken

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup Olive Oil

SPICES:  Sea salt, cracked pepper, yellow curry powder, 5 6" sprigs of fresh rosemary

Pour olive oil onto the bottom of a glass baking dish.  Place whole chicken into pan and fill body cavity with water and rosemary sprigs.  Use the remaining olive oil to lightly coat the skin of the chicken.  Evenly sprinkle the enterior of the chicken with sea salt, yellow curry powder and cracked pepper.  Bake for about 1.25 hours at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and carve immediately.  Bon Appetit!

Brevard County Board of Commissioners OPEN LETTER for CODE CHANGE 

Thursday, March 1, 2012 5:35:00 PM

In order to get the ball REALLY ROLLING for code change, my husband and I wrote a letter of introduction and intent that we posted to the five Brevard County commissioners and some members of the Zoning Department.  After months of gathering signatures, putting together materials, and carefully composing a letter, it all seemed to fall together on February 29th - OUR SPECIAL FEAT in a LEAP YEAR!  Here is a copy of the letter that was delivered in early March:

 

Toby Napier and Margaret Goudelock           Cocoa, Florida                                        March 1, 2012


Dear Brevard County Commissioner / Zoning Department:

We are writing this letter to you today as an introduction and an invitation to explore the benefits and advantages for allowing backyard chickens in Brevard County.  While Brevard County has always had a strong agricultural history, in recent years, growth and development minded interests have severely limited rural land use for persons wishing to cultivate both agriculture and livestock on their property.   Currently, there are many local businesses and families who would like to expand their abilities to support themselves and increase their business opportunities in our community.  You, as our local government official, could enable this effort by revising some of the current cumbersome zoning limitations.  Our website at Avid Homestead promotes local agricultural businesses, fresh produce sources, gardening and small livestock as well as any individual contributors who wish to be more agriculturally friendly.  We have also incorporated a petition feature on our website that has garnered over 300 supportive signatures for backyard chickens.  In total, we have over 1,500 signatures gathered from Brevard County residents supporting our efforts.

We are proposing changes to the current Brevard County code regarding residentialproperties such as areas zoned REU, RR-1, SEU, SR, EU and some RU zoning (not including multiple family units).  Code could be changed to allow backyard chickens, but this is only the beginning.  We would like code to encompass allowances for an increase in what is known as traditional homesteading.  Homesteading includes personal livestock husbandry, urban gardening, small-scale supplemental food production and generally promotes a more self-supporting, manageable lifestyle.   We think that it is easily possible for people who live in residential areas to incorporate agricultural pursuits into their lives in a responsible and sustainable manner which in turn will help support the local economy.   We are sending this letter to you actively seeking sponsorship for our efforts among the Brevard County Board of Commissioners or for your support for a positive vote on changing code in Brevard County.

Currently,Brevard County code allows for only ONE chicken or fowl on residential property.  This part of code is particularly egregious because having only ONE chicken or fowl violates the very nature of these social animals.  Chickens are happiest in small groups. For a family of four who would like  to provide eggs for themselves, four to six hens would be an optimal number.  We are asking that the keeping of chickens or fowl be changed from just one to a reasonable number of fowl, depending on lot size for the aforementioned zoning classifications.

We have enclosed copies of articles that show the economic benefits of communities who have embraced backyard chickens and the continued importance of safe, efficient locally grown produce.  There are hundreds of communities across the United States whose first and foremost considerations are residential agricultural pursuits and community gardening interests with their development and planning.   We are hoping that Brevard County can see the benefits of this green revolution mentality and help incorporate this into our community backyards.

Also enclosed, you will find the promotional postcard showing our family with some of the animals that we are raising on our property.  This  postcard is your personal invitation to come by our small homestead just off of Friday Road to see what we are currently growing in Cocoa and what plans we have for our future with the implementation of a Brevard County code change.

In thinking of ways to compose this letter, we have found it to be one of the most difficult to write succinctly.  To our family, there seems to be so much at stake for us and for some of the struggling families that we have seen and talked to in Brevard County.    You would not think that a few chickens or rabbits grown as an alternative food source could mean the difference between self-help and government sponsored welfare, but sometimes it simply comes down to that basic difference.  People WANT to be able to help themselves and have opportunities to make their lives better.  If you want to know more about the personal impact of this proposed code change, I invite you to read the comments section on our petition signing page online.

We look forward to having some time to speak with you personally regarding backyard chickens, urban homesteading and gardening at your convenience.  Please look through the articles and materials enclosed and please call us with any questions.  We will contact our County Commissioner directly to start what we, and many in our County, hope to be productive discussions culminating with beneficial changes for all residents.

We thank you for your time and consideration,

Toby Napier and Margaret Goudelock                                    Home phone:  321

SHEEP – Doing GOOD at The Farmhouse 

Friday, January 20, 2012 2:17:00 PM



When the home market crash hit Florida in 2008, my family decided that we could take advantage of the down market to buy our “25 year FAMILY house”.  Prices were so low that we could really get GREAT value for the money that we had been saving for a few years.  We made out a WISH LIST of every possible amenity that we desired and then began the search.  Entire weekends were spent on the internet,comparing house square footage to acreage size to price. Our vast list of MUST HAVE amenities got down to a simple, essential formula.   Literally THOUSANDS of houses were eliminated from our office chairs - we wanted a home that our children would enjoy growing up in and we wanted some property for a small homestead and garden.

A house that had been a speculative investment and had gone into foreclosure began to look like a good bet for our family.  We just HAPPENED to drive down into the neighborhood right after the FOR SALE sign had been put in the yard –a well-kept neighborhood,  two acres, a pool, our girls in separate bedrooms…it was FORTUITUOUS – this MUST be the place!  While the over-bearing ranch style of the house held very little curb appeal, the size and floor-plan of the house was quite acceptable.  A bit of research revealed that very few repairs or updates had been done in the last twenty years, in fact, the lawn had barely ever gotten mowed by the previous owner.   Though the property seemed like a totally retro, lost in the eighties shamble on the surface, we could still see lots of potential.  In a highest and best bidding scenario, we won our bet!  The house was purchased in December 2009, during the depths of the recession, from Fannie Mae.  Not only were we feeling lucky in our purchase, we felt like we were helping out the economy by taking a BAD ASSET and making it into something worthwhile.  NOW, how to manage all the WORK that we had taken on!!

Though the property was covered in beautiful, tall Florida scrub pines, underneath this gorgeous, shady canopy was a tract covered in thickly matted  pine needles, sticks and cones.  The existing landscaping was composed of ill-trimmed oleanders and ligustrums fading outwards from the house into palmettos, vagrant palms, invasive Brazilian pepper trees, sickly Laurel oaks, love-bug attracting Chinese Tallow trees and Virginia creeper.  It was an absolute mess!

The first remedies to making the property more appealing were quite radical – chain saws, wide deck lawn tractors and a Bobcat skid-steer loader!   After two weeks of clearing, my husband’s first comment was “LOOK! There IS a house in there!”.  It could ONLY get better from here!  Even the neighbors would stop by and say that they had seen more activity at our new house in 2 WEEKS than they had seen in 20 YEARS!

In order to keep the property clean and mowed while we began updating the inside of the house, my husband and I purchased sheep.  We purchased three small lambs at first to see how we would like sheep herding.  Florida Native ewes were our choice. 
The flock that we purchased our stock from originally came from the Lake Okeechobee forest area in south central Florida.  These sheep were supposedly brought to the New World hundreds of years ago by Spanish settlers.  As a feral woodland species, this group of sheep became remarkably acclimated and thrived in the harsh Florida conditions – times of torrential, flooding rainfall followed by extreme times of heat and drought.  Natural selection over the years also increased this animal’s natural resistance to many types of parasites.  Interbreeding with strains of hair sheep also produced the unique feature of coat shedding – a natural process whereby the sheep seasonally shed their undercoat of hair and their top coat of wool.  Early spring makes for a slightly disheveled look with the new coat and the old coat retained simultaneously, but this helps the animal stay warm when the weather may turn unexpectedly cooler and continues to shed out into early summer for a smoother, even appearance.

Aside from property maintenance, we have our sheep so that our two young children can learn responsibility for another living thing and respect for life in general, something that seems to be sorely lacking in our modern society.   Our oldest daughter Lydia is eight years old.  She gets up every morning at 6:30 a.m. and takes care of the outside and inside animals – sheep, rabbits and dogs.  She distributes grain and feed and checks the watering buckets every morning before she goes to school.  While Lydia originally wanted a horse, at her age at the time (six years) and her experience level, a horse would have been an expensive and dangerous proposition.  Instead, we purchased a RABBIT for her.  While this sounds comical at first, a rabbit
made sense – a small, manageable animal that she could study and enjoy up-close – not always outside in the pasture. Lydia has come to thoroughly enjoy rabbits and has been VERY responsible with their care.  This fall, we allowed Lydia to adopt her very own dog from the SPCA.  She chose a five-year old red hound dog and named him Jack-Jack.  He has been a wonderful addition to our property, though he keeps a respectable distance from the sheep.  Carys, our other daughter, is three and is just getting to the point where she is figuring out how she can be helpful.  She takes vegetable scraps out to the rabbits and helps acclimate ALL our new animals with her shrill, HAWK-LIKE laughter!

Since we fenced the majority of our property, we have had TONS of positive remarks about the sheep ranging from disbelief to complete delight.  The disbelief comes from the overall neatness and constant maintenance of this property now.  After TWENTY YEARS with no maintenance, all the undergrowth is gone and it STAYS gone.  Not only do the sheep mow the regular lawn, they do a fair amount of edging too – NO stray vines or straggling growth at our fence line!   We even have temporary electric fencing that we use to manage our pastures from being overgrazed.  We used this temporary fencing to help maintain the difficult to mow swales and easements between our neighbors on the adjoining properties, with their permission.   Our sheep are quite the attraction for an array of random visitors, especially children who love their calm and docile manner.  While the sheep do not like treats of any sort, they DO THRIVE on vigorous ear scratching and petting!  And simply NO ONE can resist the frolicking of baby lambs in the springtime – life and the joy of renewal delights in itself before your very eyes!

December 2011 marked our second anniversary in our new house, which we have dubbed The Farmhouse.  The name comes not only from our love of homesteading, gardening and animals, but also with the style that we have chosen for our interior décor – cool, bright colors and casual, open styling, a style that is quite popular in contemporary design.  There is STILL much work to be done here at The Farmhouse but we have certainly not wasted any of the time that we have been here!  Our property, all two acres, has not been mowed conventionally since we purchased the sheep.   This is moving towards a goal of 104 weekends where we have been able to make improvements in our own household ,neighborhood and community.  The incessant droning, summer song of lawnmowers has NO contribution from us!

SIMPLY STATED, the advantages of sheep are these:

~A hardy, naturally disease-resistant small sized pet that is flock friendly (stays together as a herd)

~A smaller sized animal that is easily managed and cared for by young children without much supervision

~A low-maintenance, calm animal that respects fencing and stays on our homestead (unlike some livestock)

~Easy care with a self-shedding hair and wool blend coat

~ NO fossil fuels consumed in two acre property maintenance

~A thorough MOWING, edging and FERTILIZING compact ALL-IN-ONE unit

~A unique animal in that it can be a source of wool for clothing and fabric or meat and milk for sustenance

~A constant source of amusement and entertainment with their various antics and personalities

~ BESIDES, BOTH of our families ORIGINALLY came from Scotland - the Goudelocks and the Napiers!  It must be in our blood to  have the sheep and the Llewellin setters - a natural extension of our heritage and part of the definition of WHO WE ARE.

SIMPLY STATED, we LOVE our sheep and you will too if you decide to add them to your life!

PLEASE REMEMBER TO SIGN OUR PETITION ON THE HOME PAGE for allowing traditional homesteading and backyard chickens!!!

The CUTTING CREW

A few of the CUTTING CREW - Fiona, Tri-Color and Freckles - Florida Native Sheep

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 HOMESTEAD.com.  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.



 



 



 

SOLO - Then and NOW - An Update 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 6:33:00 PM

SOLO CHICK Solo Chicken

SOLO CHICK posing by the pool and then SOLO CHICKEN, running around today in the grass catching pesky bugs!!

 

SOLO CHICKEN, our Barred Rock hen, will be 14 weeks old next week.  She is really turning out to be a BEAUTIFUL hen – colorful white penciled striping over her solid black down and feathers.  She should start laying brown eggs at about four to five months of age, so we still have some time to wait.  For the average backyard chicken, if you choose a laying breed such as the Barred Rock, you may reasonably expect 200 - 250 FRESH EGGS per year.   For an average family of FOUR PEOPLE, FOUR or FIVE chickens should be able to provide enough eggs for their use.  Of course, once Brevard County Code is changed so that SOLO can have some friends permanently,MORE CHICKENS can only mean FRESH EGGS for the neighbors as well (in fact, they are looking forward to it!!)

Right before Christmas, we found an aviary coop / hutch combo on Craigslist.  It was dis-assembled in Port St. John and then re-assembled here at The Farmhouse in Cocoa.  In about 2 weeks, all the finishing touches will be put on the new free-range rabbit and chicken yard.  We are doing lots of reading up on the best designs for easy access, door construction, feed storage and a complete watering system – all for the ease and maintenance of the menagerie.  We are all very excited about the new luxury accomodations and the humans CAN’T WAIT to regain the pool area!

PLEASE BE SURE TO SIGN OUR ONLINE PETITION to allow backyard chickens in Brevard County Florida~~~GO TO THE HOMEPAGE and click on the PETITION LINK.  NEED A PETITION FOR YOUR COUNTY OR CITY?  Just contact us so we can set you up with your own local petition!

Our Pride and JOY – Florida Native Sheep 

Thursday, January 12, 2012 3:05:00 PM

 

The Farmhouse is welcoming two joyful new additions in 2012 –Florida Native ewe lambs born over the past weekend.   We have TWO proud mothers, Freckles’ baby is solid black and Falline’s baby is solid white – BOTH new babies are precocious little girls (ewes).  They seem to be the sheep version of the oriental Yin and Yang – harmonious opposites! One is very calm and reserved and the other started bouncing with excitement within hours after being born!  Saturday, January 14th will make them both one week old.  Curiously, neither one knew that the other existed until this picture was taken – finding mother and responding to her constant calls were PRIORITY!  Now, the two are playing together – jumping and running together, exploring all the pasture and making new friends with our small herd.

 

We have not picked out names for the lambs yet, so we are soliciting suggestions for naming two of the cutest little girls that you have ever seen!  Please use the comment section below to submit your entries for naming the new lambs.  THANK YOU for sharing our joy!!

CHICKENS FOR VICTORY - 2012 Campaign for Code Change 

Sunday, January 1, 2012 10:29:00 AM

WELCOME to 2012!!!  Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous start to the NEW YEAR!

The coming of the new year is always filled with excitement and anticipation - a release of the old and the resolutions towards the new.  Here at the Farmhouse, I have a saying that eventually will be painted onto the walls of my library  " Here, we appreciate diversity but celebrate the traditional" and I am seeing this being manifested completely in 2012.  The new vistas that are opening to me in small vegetable gardening and animal husbandry are a constant source of amazement - who KNEW there were so many kinds of tomatoes and chickens?!!  My mail is filled with colorful catalogs of produce and products tempting me to try something new every day!

For now, I can vicariously celebrate the incredible diversity of all that I see.  While I would LOVE to grow and participate in even a small fraction of the wonders before me, I am reminded to stay grounded and focused on the task at hand - changing Brevard County code to allow some of the activities that I would like to do on my small homestead.

To start off the new year, I present the VICTORY CHICKEN poster from World War II.  Most food that was commercially produced during the war era was required for troop support overseas, so individuals all across the United States were encouraged to grow their own produce.  Not only was the home-grown food itself necessary to support the local citizenry, but most of the transportation and related resources were too scarce to support a far-flung food chain.  The government encouraged people to support and take care of themselves and then share with their neighbors in small "VICTORY GARDENS".

I can appreciate this time when our government entities had an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT view of small farmers and homesteaders.  However, that time has come again.  It is time for Brevard County to embrace tradition and in doing so, make an important change and move forward to allow citizens to help support themselves.  CELEBRATE the diversity and opportunity of our communities while re-opening the path of the traditonal gardener and small urban homesteader!!!  CHICKENS for VICTORY!


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 HOMESTEAD.com.  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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