4-H Poultry Project creates a chicken whisper in local fifth grader

LES fifth grader Macon Dickey poses with one of his 4-H pullets. The 4-H Poultry Project will conclude with the Chicken Chain Auction this afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Lynchburg Legion pavilion.

LOCAL NEWS – It’s a day better suited for ducks than chickens but Lynchburg Elementary fifth grader Macon Dickey doesn’t care. He’s outside stomping around in puddles – a trail of chickens behind him. Occasionally, he’ll scoop one up and pet it while his docile, feathered friend basks in the attention.

His 24 hen flock is part of the Moore County-H Chicken Chain Project, a Moore County tradition that’s been teaching local students about the fun and hard work associated with being a caretaker for farm animals for decades.

At the end of fourth grade, Macon attended class with the local 4-H staff and members of UT Extension to learn about chickens and how to properly care for them. Several days later, he received 25 pullet chicks. On Monday, the project will come to completion at the Moore County 4-H Chicken Chain Auction scheduled to 4 p.m. The auction usually takes place in Wiseman Park at the Moorehead Pavilion. Due to flooding, they’ve moved today’s auction to the pavilion at the Lynchburg Legion Building located off Highway 129.

Macon is the son of Dusty and Debra Dickey of the Chestnut Ridge area.

Debra says she was originally hesitant to let Macon participate in the program but the local UT Extension Agent and 4-H Youth Development Coordinator Brenda Hannah put her mind at ease. Macon’s dad, Mr. Dusty, is also a 4-H Sponsor at Lynchburg Elementary.

The pullets arrive as a big box of baby chicks that student s pick up at the local 4-H office. Once Macon got his chicks home, he raised them in the garage until they were old enough to roam outside on their own. Macon started with 25 pullet and he now has 24.

“I’m thinking a larger predator bird got it but we don’t know for sure,” Macon says. “We woke up and she was just gone.”

He lets his flock out around 7:30 a.m. each morning and the free range around the Dickey home until they put themselves up to roost around 7 p.m. at night.

Macon’s raised the chickens over the past six months and he’s developed quite a bond with them. As anyone who follows his mom’s Facebook page can attest, Macon a budding animal whisper who’d like to someday work with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Center and help rehab injured wildlife.

When he’s a home, Macon says he spends about thirty minutes with his chickens every couple hours just to check on them.

Today, he’ll say goodbye to at least six of his feathered friends but Macon says he’s thought long and hard about which ones he’s willing to let go of this afternoon. When we ask if it will be hard to say goodbye, he says it will but he’s got a plan.

“I’m gonna take two decent ones and three that I’m okay with letting go but only one of my favorites,” he explains.

The chicks will be judged at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon and the auction will immediately follow.  The pullets will be graded, with ribbons and prize money being awarded to the 4-Her’s based on how their pullets were judged. After the show, the pullets will be sold at the auction. The money from the pullet sale will be used to buy chicks to use in the project next year.

Macon says he plans to keep his remaining chicken after the auction to raise for eggs and to keep as pets.

“We’ve kind of gotten attached to them,” Debra says.

The Moore County Farmer Co-op and Moore County Farm Bureau helps sponsors the project. This year, 20 local student participated.•

{The Lynchburg Times is the only daily newspaper in Lynchburg. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}