Contributed by Kathy Slade, Education Coordinator.
This spring Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village initiated the first phase of the new Heritage Farmstead Project. The Heritage Farmstead Project is a multi-phase plan for the development of a re-created 19th century farmstead on the museum grounds. The farmstead will enable BNHV to tell the story of rural and agricultural life in the Buffalo-Niagara region with a re-created barn, outbuildings, animals, crops, hand tools, and much more. This will provide hands-on and experiential learning for all visitors.
The first phase of the project had two parts: the addition of several large fields for crops and pasture, and the addition of a small brood of chickens. The field crops were put in near the Dann Road house as well as near the Smith Log house. The crops include hay, oats, and feed corn. A large kitchen garden was also included near the Dann Road house containing many varieties of heirloom tomatoes. These heirloom tomatoes were generously donated by Ben Brook Farm on Tonawanda Creek Road.
Using reclaimed wood from the old Neumann Log Chapel, a temporary/seasonal chicken coop was created for the grounds. The reclaimed wood will also be utilized for fencing and other temporary animal shelters. The coop is now home to seven Barred Rock chickens. The chicks were born on May 6th and have spent several weeks growing and maturing in our wood shop. The chicks were about 3-4 inches when they arrived at the museum, and after 5 weeks of non-stop eating they are about a foot tall.
Barred Rock chickens, or “rocks” as they are sometimes referred to, are a heritage breed of chicken originating from the Massachusetts area in about 1865. They are a part of the Plymouth Rock family of chickens. Barred Rock chickens are bred for both their egg laying ability as well as for their meat. They are beautiful chickens with black and rock-grey colored stripes on their feathers and a single red comb on top of their head.
The brood of chickens will be at the museum all summer. Once the barnyard fence is in place, they will be out and running free. In the meantime, you can observe them through a screen on their coop door. They are not yet fully grown and still have about 3 weeks until they will begin to lay eggs.
Below is a series of pictures that were taken weekly along with measurements. The measurements are approximate as chickens are impossible to catch and are not good at standing still!
Stop by the museum to check on the progress of the chicks and our farmstead project Wednesday through Friday, 9:30am to 4:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4:30pm!