Diamond Bluff native wins essay contest
DIAMOND BLUFF -- Ernie Lillie explained his house, located off CTH E, has plenty of space for his three kids' 4-H projects.
One of those, for example, is chickens. Lillie said his family started getting them in March and the food they originally had was running out fast.
That's where he and his wife's middle child, Natasha, age 11, came in. Her essay on good chicken management was chosen the best from Ellsworth Mercantile and, as a result, she won 10 50-pound bags of Show Chow Poultry Feed in April.
"Now, we haven't had to buy any feed in a while," Lillie said, laughing, referring to the family's 30 chickens.
He added all three kids, Heidi 15, Natasha and Toby, 10, have been involved in the Helping Hands 4-H Club for a number of years and all three plan on showing their animals, along with various arts and crafts, at next month's county fair.
The following is Natasha Lillie's winning entry. Come fall, she'll be in the sixth grade at Prescott Middle School.
"If you want a winning show chicken, you must take good care of your chickens. Chickens need food, clean water, a good pen, space to walk around and medicine whenever they need it.
"It's good to start a chick on 20 percent protein chick starter. After about eight weeks, you should switch to 18 percent protein grower food. Chickens need good protein in their food. A lot of protein in their food is needed so you can ready your pullets to have good eggs.
"Chickens want a warm cozy bed, so a floor of wood shavings is a good idea. In the summer, they need to keep a bit cool, so you should go pretty thin on the wood shavings and, in the winter, you can put them on thick. If it is really cold outside, don't let the chickens out of their coop; keep them where it's warm.
"You should always keep a close eye out for diseases like lice and mites. You should catch these things right away so they don't spread onto the other chickens. An early sign of lice is if they are scratching themselves a lot. Lice and mites will hurt their feathers. If they are not feeling well, they won't produce as good meat or as many eggs.
"If you manage your chickens well and give them the proper nutrition, they will become winning show chickens."