We were all prepared. We had the hen house and run almost completed, had prepared the brooder, researched what breeds we wanted to try in our first little flock, and were eagerly awaiting when the chicks would arrive at our local feed store. With only days to go, I began reading labels on bags of chicken feed. Having Celiac Disease, reading labels is a matter of course for me. Quite quickly the daunting fact emerged: all commercial chicken feed contains wheat.

Celiac Disease. Briefly: wheat, barley, rye, is the same thing to my body as would be arsenic. When I eat anything containing wheat–and I mean the most microscopic amounts–my body reacts against itself by destroying the upper part of my stomach, not to mention extended damage to every organ of the body. There is a cure, and it is the stringent abstinence from the grains of wheat, barley, and rye. Because of the extent of my illness, my husband keep a totally gluten-free home.

Looking at the chicken feed situation, my mind filled with pictures of feed dust, with wheat, billowing up, being inhaled, getting on my clothes, getting on shoes and being tracked into the house, being in the house as we fed little biddies in there brooder.

What to do? I panicked, researched, and got brave. I made my own feed. I was uncertain, obsessed, and worried over my first biddies, but those girls came through with flying colors and have given me joy way beyond the eggs. I simply love my girls.

When not tending the chicks, grandkids, and gardens, I also write books. You can find out more about me at my main blog Curtiss Ann Matlock.

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