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Pickin Chicken By Mother Earth News: The Story Behind the App

| 11/24/2010 2:05:00 PM

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Pickin' Chicken Screen Shot 

A photo of Michelle HernadezI am so very pleased and honored to have MOTHER EARTH NEWS and GRIT Magazine involved the Pickin’ Chicken iPhone app for chicken breed selection. I have shown this app to chicken lovers and novices alike. Once they've played with it, they inevitably ask, “Why a chicken app?” The answer: chickens changed my life.

Nearly three years ago, I started thinking about raising chickens – not knowing what I didn’t know. I read, researched, and figured I would get some chickens so they could eat the bugs in my garden, I could use their poop in the compost pile, and we'd have super-fresh eggs. Past that, however, I did not have too high of expectations from the chickens themselves as smart or interactive animals. How little did I know…

My 2nd batch of chicks, left to right: Barred Plymouth Rock cockerel (hatched at home), Australorp and Ideal 236 pullets. 

Life changed from the moment I brought chicks home. Watching chickens as they forage, interact with each other (and me) and explore the garden is tremendous fun. Chick TV was the best entertainment out there! I joined other chicken-keepers in online chicken forums, swapping stories about our joy in raising chickens. Within a few months, I became a founder of Austin’s Funky Chicken Coop Tour. Shortly after the success of the tour, I became the Organizer for the Austin Backyard Poultry Meetup, a very active meetup with over 750 members. I was well on the road to Crazy Chicken Lady-dom.

Right away, I met a wide variety of people interested in raising chickens. By far the most common question I encountered was, “What chicken is right for me?” I knew from my personal experience there were many reputable online sources on chicken breeds. Different breeds have different characteristics, including their general personalities, tolerance for heat or cold, and the quantity (and color!) of eggs they lay; picking the right breed helps create a successful flock. I like being able to quickly and effectively tailor information and loved the idea of having a portable, paperless, customizable chicken reference with me at all times. The idea of Pickin’ Chicken hatched in the fall of 2009.

Michelle Hernandez
11/30/2010 11:50:23 PM

Thanks, Lisa. I'd love to see some great pics of Icelandic chickens! You can submit them in the "More" section of the app (lower right-hand buttons on app) under the "Submit Your Photos" link. The more breeds in the app, the better! btw, nice blog you have! Michelle

Lisa Richards
11/30/2010 1:26:05 PM

What a cool app! How can I submit information about Icelandic chickens? (which I breed, of course, and am a huge fan of) Lisa Richards Mack Hill Farm

11/26/2010 9:13:29 PM

Thank you so very much, @NebraskaDave, for the kind words. I know what you mean about life taking on us on interesting paths. If someone had told me I'd be raising chickens 10 years ago, I probably would have never believed it. But here I am with chickens, guineas, and ducks. Geek by day, chicken lover full time :) Even my dog breed selections are based on having chickens. Chickens have opened my life up to a great community of people. I haven't met a chicken lover I didn't like ;) While I do code and do Project Management, this project was a team effort. I also need to thank the talented rest of the Pickin' team, including Andrea, the Graphic Designer I met at a Slow Food Talk on meat chickens. We sat by each other by chance. Her introduction? Her name, the fact that she is a Graphic Designer for a large Tech firm, and that "she loves drawing chickens!" I knew then I had the right illustrator for my yet-unrevealed idea. I also want to thank Shane, a very talented iPhone developer I trust implicitly with design and UI ideas and direction. We really worked in very close partnership. Do what you love, love what you do. Bringing this app to life embodies that philosophy for me. I hope others find it helpful as well as entertaining. Best wishes for you and your family, Michelle

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