I confess to being a reality television junkie; The Little Couple, Kate Plus 8, Storage Wars and The Long Island Medium are all squarely in my wheelhouse, but I’m a skeptical reality TV viewer. If I get the sense that a show is less real than scripted or set-up, I’m out, so when I was asked to participate in the new chicken reality show, Coop Dreams, my Cynicism Radar naturally was up and running on full power. What I discovered during the filming of Coop Dreams was surprising.
The trip to Marshall, Indiana was not without entertainment value of its own. Mr. Chicken Chick, Purscilla (my henbag) and I flew into Indianapolis together on a Wednesday where we ran into the vice president of human resources for Mr. Chicken Chick’s company. Mr. CC, who is generally uncomfortable taking personal days off from work, looked like a student playing hooky who had just been busted at McDonald’s by the truant officer. Having survived that personal horror, we arrived at the hotel around 11 pm to learn that my Spruce the Coop Herbal Fusion that I had brought for our host family’s flock had gotten my luggage nominated for a TSA inspection. I can’t imagine why a bag of herbs would raise eyebrows in the airport- can you?
Anywho, back to the behind-the-scenes dish about the reality show. Brad, who is a total riot, is the main “character” of Coop Dreams- the show documents his foray into chicken-keeping on his family’s farm and takes him on an information-seeking mission around the country.
We arrived at the farm first thing in the morning and immediately were made to feel at home by The Dream Team: the show’s producers, crew and family. The “set” was nothing of the kind- the whole day was filmed in, on and around Brad’s family farm and home. We pulled up chairs in the kitchen with copious amounts of coffee all around and chatted for a very long time, after which we headed out to the chicken coop. Here’s the big surprise: there is no behind-the-scenes. There were no scenes. No script, no agenda. There were no predetermined conversations, no directorial instruction, nothing contrived and no pretense. There was simply Brad and me, talking chicken.
The day was 100% my idea of a good time: having my brain picked by an enthusiastic, new chicken keeper anxious to do the right thing for his new family pets. It was very much the live version of what I do online every day. The best part was that the entire day felt like I was hanging out with an old friend from college- where there may or may not have been margaritas served during lunch. ☺
Talking about poultry lice and examining one of Brad’s Easter Eggers, Pokey. Brad is a sponge and his quest to absorb as much information as humanly possible is palpable. I live for this stuff. The range of topics we covered was astonishing- everything from coop design essentials to fertile eggs, feed recalls, free-ranging chickens and predators, the use of sand in the run and dried herbs in the nest boxes.
Talking about fertile eggs. We talked about hardware disease, cold weather survival tactics, nest box curtains, treats and obesity in chickens. I even taught him how to give a chicken a quick-and-dirty bath when we discovered one of his hens had poultry lice. We laughed ALL DAY LONG.
The only time it occurred to me that people were filming our conversations was on rare occasion when my microphone needed adjusting.
Pokey got a butt bath while we waited for Davi (one of the producers) to return from the store with Sevin Dust to treat Pokey’s lice infestation. This was the first time Brad had ever handled one of his chickens. It was super cool to see him bond with her as he dried her fluff with a hair dryer al fresco with Mr. Chicken Chick.
Having built our Little Deuce Coop, my husband was the resident coop design and construction expert for the day and he got in on the on the coop design and modifications conversation with Brad. You’ll have to tune into the show to see how Brad’s first build turned out!
Mr. Chicken Chick is the man in pink and black. The only bummer was that we had just one day to hang out with Brad and the Dream Team, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities to do that again soon. ☺ I’m anxious to see how the show comes together and while I don’t know what editing will do to the footage, I do know that the objective is to present Brad’s leap into chicken-keeping in a genuine way with no spin. So, take THAT, Honey-BooBoo!
Coop Dreams begins airing on July 2, 2015 on Destination America! Check listings in your area here.