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singing chickens

From Rory’s daily blog series “a few of my favorite things about the Festival this year”…

Tomorrow’s the big day.

After a year of planning, endless meetings, and brainstorm sessions... hundreds of hours of emailing, scheduling, organizing, and building... the 2nd annual Homestead Festival is upon us. By daybreak tomorrow, we’ll all be in a mad dash to make sure we’ve thought of everything, and have everything ready to open the gates at 7 AM. Soon after, a steady stream of cars will come down Hardison Mill road and make their way into the back entrance of the farm and through the main festival gate.

It’s been so beautiful to watch and be part of it all coming together. Especially this past week as our farm transformed from a place where our extended family homesteads, into the Festival grounds where 5,000 or more folks will be learning about homesteading. It’s such a gift that God has given... a spot where we can not only grow food to feed our family, but a place where we can help others learn to do the same thing.

I drove Indy down to Alabama to meet up with her big sisters this morning. She’s excited to spend the weekend with them. There’s so much going on during the festival. Her Papa and everyone stay so busy, it’s not much fun for her. While, it will be sad not to have her with us this year, I look forward to telling her all about it when I pick her up on Sunday and hearing all about her time with Heidi and Hopie.

This evening we have the annual Speaker’s Dinner, and then later on tonight, I’ll drive to Nashville to pick up my cowboy poet friend Waddie at the airport. His flight comes in late, but I’m excited to get to spend some drive time with him (before all the hustle and bustle of Friday and Saturday get here).

This will be the last of ‘my favorite things about this year’s festival’ blog posts. There are literally dozens of other things I’m excited about this year, but I would need lots more time to tell you about them. So before I close let me mention one other special thing that I have to at least say something about... because it’s gonna be one of my favorite things at the festival this year... and I imagine for everyone (and at least for all the kids)... it will be.

Apart from the new corn pit, a barn bouncy house, and the other fun things they have in the Lil’ Homesteader area this year… our neighbor Steve Axtell is bringing his chickens! Now that might not sound like that big of a deal (since there are already hundreds of them on our farm everyday)... Steve's chickens aren’t your average everyday chickens... These chickens can sing!

The kids from The Homestead School get a up close look at Steve Axtell's animatronic chickens.

They’re a girl group of singers. Lke the Supremes. Excepte, only their laying hens are mounted in a specially built hayloft... that are animated... and the only words that they can say are “bock, bock, bock!” But they are mighty good with melodies. This past December we took the schoolhouse kids to Steve’s house to show them these animatronice chickens... and they all lost their minds.

Steve (besides being our neighbor and a heck of a nice guy), is a world renowned puppeteer and animatronic maker. He’s built lots of puppets that you’ve seen on tons of tv shows and kids programs... and he is the "go-to guy" for many of the world’s greatest ventriloquists and puppeteers. You’ll also find many of his creations in theme parks and restaurants all around the country.

Now normally, these particular ‘girls’ stay in a work shed behind Steve’s house. But when he heard about The Homestead Festival, he said he wanted to bring them to share with all the children (and mom’s and dad’s) that are coming. I can’t wait to see the looks the kids faces when they get here. It’s going to be so fun!

So be sure to come see Steve and his singing chickens in the big livestock barn in the Lil’ Homesteader area, behind the schoolhouse. And if you haven’t got your tickets to the festival yet, be sure to go to purchase them, and to learn about all the speakers, music, demonstrations, and more that is going to be going on. It’s going to be an incredible weekend of not just learning how to grow your own food, but how to grow a life filled with meaning and purpose.

I sure hope to see you all here tomorrow and Saturday!

- rory



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