Welcome to Fort Christmas Farm
Published on Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:42am
By Lisa Pedro
If you travel just east of Orlando, you can find us in Christmas, Fla. Our farm is named after the road that we live on, which is Fort Christmas Road. Yes, there was an actual Fort Christmas—its construction commenced on December 25, 1837. A wonderful reproduction of the fort is south of us, on the same road as our farm. I encourage everyone to visit it if you are in the area, because there is so much to see.
As for us, we have had chickens, turkeys and Guinea fowl off and on for well over 20 years. We have been at this location since 2010 and are a county-recognized farm. We have 10 different breeds of chickens here as well as ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, peacocks, quails, and Nigerian Dwarf goats.
When I started our current flock here, I ordered a mix of purebred bantam chicks that was labeled a Surprise Special, so I did not know what I was getting. It was fun guessing what breeds they were and deciding which ones I really liked and which ones I would sell. By the time the chicks were six weeks old, we built our first coop. (I still love that coop—it has been such a blessing to have and enjoy.)
Back then, the more I read, studied, and learned, the more I got into the different breeds. it was about this time when I found The Chicken Whisperer radio show online. Andy’s very knowledgeable guests, professionals, and experts have really helped me to improve and expand what I am doing.
We now have a building at the entrance of the farm known as “The Hatchery.” It contains the incubators for hatching all of our birds and brooder cages for the chicks, keets, and ducklings. In the hatchery is a refrigerator set between 65°F and 70°F for optimum hatching, as I have learned from listening to Dr. Peter Brown on the Chicken Whisperer radio show.
We started with the bantam chickens and soon got Royal Purple Guinea Fowl keets to raise along with them. I started to realize that in order to keep them purebred, I needed a separate coop and run for every breed of chicken that I wanted to raise here. So, we started building more coops, often finding good deals online.
Now that I was getting eggs, I wanted to start hatching them. I started out with a couple smaller incubators, but then I was able to purchase a large Brinsea cabinet incubator. Next, I needed to decide where to locate it. My first thought was to put it in the house, but then I decided against that. Around that time, I found a small building for sale online—the moment I saw it in person, I knew this was going to be my new hatchery.
While there was plenty of effort involved to ready the building to move, the real work began once it was delivered. We painted it inside and out, put down ceramic tile so that the floor would be easy to clean, and installed some cabinets and the refrigerator. Plus, we needed to run electric, phone, and internet underground from the house to the hatchery. It was a lot of work, but so worth it! My husband and sons built a beautiful porch on the front to keep the Florida heat and rain out. My husband also hand-painted the sign for it as well as our farm sign. (He is very talented.)
So now I am hatching and brooding all of the chicks, keets, ducklings, goslings, and other assorted babies there. It has been a great experience. I get to meet so many nice people when they come to pick up their chicks, and I pass on the knowledge that I have learned whenever I am asked.
Over the years I have added blue Swedish and black Swedish ducks, Embden and American Buff geese, Royal Palm turkeys, Coturnix quails in many colors, India Blue Peacocks, and Emu. The Nigerian Dwarf goat babies—a small breed of dairy goat—are adorable!
Besides the animals, I have started adding a lot of fruit trees and plants such as banana, pineapples, grapes, passion fruit, papayas, thornless blackberries, lemons, chocolate pudding fruit, ginger, and figs that will hopefully start producing in the near future.
We have been talking about creating our own website with information about our farm and for people to be able to order the hatching eggs and other things from us. We would have eggs from all of the poultry mentioned above in addition to all of our breeds of large fowl and bantam chickens.
- Rhode Island Reds
- Easter Eggers
- Blue, Splash and Black Copper Marans
- Spitzhauben Appenzellers
- Tolbunt Polish split with Gold Lace
- Blue, Black and Splash Jersey Giants
- Porcelain D'Uccle bantams
- Silver Penciled Cochin bantams plus Frizzles
- Old English Game bantams
- Paint, Black, White and Showgirl Silkies bantams
If I can find the time to get one more coop done, I would love to add Jubilee Orpingtons to our farm, just because they are so pretty.
Worth the work
There is always work to be done on a farm. Cleaning, clearing, feeding, building, fixing, and improving.
People have always said to do a job that you love and you will be happy. Well, I am doing what I love and have found the job that makes me happy.
Stay up to date by following Fort Christmas Farm's Facebook page: facebook.com/FortChristmasFarm
About the author
Lisa Pedro, aka Christmas Chick, hails from Christmas, Fla. Lisa and her husband of more than 33 years own Fort Christmas Farm, where they raise a variety of poultry including chickens, guineas, quail, and ducks.