Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chickens > problem > idea > invention > broadband > profit (and maybe a model to follow)

Not long after Mark Hamilton and Anna Hess first bought their 58-acre Appalachian farm, a friend gave them chickens, hoping for a share of fresh eggs. Challenges of caring for the poultry led to innovative thinking, and high-speed Internet access helped them sell their invention all over the world, creating another model for rural economic development and "a self-sustaining farm where the chickens feel spoiled," reports Willie Davis of Appalshop's new WMMT Print Service.

The farm is in Scott County, Virginia, where big tobacco farms once nestled between two coal-bearing mountains. Once income from the tobacco industry and the coal companies shriveled, "the county suffered," Davis reports. "The population has been shrinking since 1990, and over 20 percent of the residents live below the poverty line. Filling the void these tobacco farms left are small self-sustaining farms. With small farms come small-farm problems."

Hamilton and Hess needed a way to provide enough clean water for their chickens, and Hamilton designed the Avian Aqua Miser, a plastic container with a special nipple that allows chickens to drink water a drop at a time, to prevent spillage and contamination of uncovered vessels. "By selling the Miser on the Internet, we were able to pay ourselves a living wage, not just minimum wage," Hess told Davis. "That's hard for a lot of people around here to do." To purchase an Avian Aqua Miser, learn more about it or how to make a homemade chicken waterer, click here. To read the story, via the Daily Yonder, click here.

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