According to the lunar calendar, it’s the Year of the Dragon.
But for Kaika Welch, it is the Year of the Chicken.
Welch is one of the founding members of Dragon’s Eye Learning Center (DELC), a nonprofit in Kapoho dedicated to cooperative and sustainable agricultural and economic systems. The center has been awarded a $4,600 grant by the county Department of Research and Development to produce a video that assists people with backyard chicken egg production.
“No matter where I go these days, I keep running into people talking about chickens. They either want to start raising them, or they’ve started already and are running into problems. The timing seems perfect to get this information out into the community,” she explained.
The training video will feature the Korean Natural Farming method as developed by Master Cho Han Kyu. The method allows for chickens to be raised happily and healthily in an indoor environment, with no smell, no flies, and believe it or not, no need to clean manure out of the cages.
Maayag Polihronopulos, who owns and manages a commercial scale chicken house using the Natural Farming practice, says it’s no fairy tale.
“Take a look. Take a whiff! I’ve been keeping 150 chickens in this 12-by-30-foot house for two years. I’ve never cleaned it out and there’s never been any foul odor, flies or disease.”
He points out that happy hens tend to be quiet hens. And his do appear to be quite happy, staying focused on scratching, sun bathing, roosting or laying eggs.
Many people on the island run free-range chickens, but that doesn’t always work for everyone.
“We can’t let the chickens go loose here on the farm because they dig up the gardens and take up residence in all our buildings,” said Polihronopulos, who is also a 4-H chicken club leader.
“Whenever we tried to raise chickens inside a coop, we ended up dealing with a stinky, fly-ridden, mite-infested environment. So for years, we stopped raising chickens completely.”
The Korean Natural Farming Method made it possible to bring chickens back to Dragon’s Eye Farm.
Polihronopulos and his 4-H Club members will work with DELC to produce the video.
Club member Kanoa Lindiwe, age 13, will have a chance to share his years of experience.
“Since I was a little kid, we would get a batch of baby chicks every year. I’d have to clean out the cage every morning, and it was a stinky mess,” said Lindiwe.
But with the Natural Farming way, he added, “I just bring food and water, then I get to play with the chicks.” His baby chick house is so clean, he keeps it on the porch. The chicks will live there for five weeks, then be moved to a bigger house.
Segments of the educational video will highlight how to go about growing and preparing chicken food, designing a baby chick rearing box and a house for adult birds, caring for baby and adult birds and — most importantly — how to create a living floor.
The video is scheduled to be completed by May, 2013. It will be made available online through the Dragon’s Eye Learning Center website. A Chicken Festival is being planned to celebrate the project’s completion, said Welch.
For more information about Korean Natural Farming and Natural Farming Chickens, contact Dragon’s Eye Learning Center at www.dragonseyecenter.org, or call 965-9371.