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updated: 8/2/2011 7:36 AM

Holmstad chickens ruffle no feathers in Batavia

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  • Phyllis Howat paints a chicken for display at the Holmstad, a retirement community in Batavia.

      Phyllis Howat paints a chicken for display at the Holmstad, a retirement community in Batavia.
    Courtesy of Charles Davis

  • From left, Phyllis Howat and Junellen Johnson paint chickens at the Holmstad.

      From left, Phyllis Howat and Junellen Johnson paint chickens at the Holmstad.
    Courtesy of Charles Davis

  • Decorated chickens are found throughout the Holmstad, a senior living community in Batavia. The exhibit is in response to the bulldog sculptures found throughout Batavia, and is a nod to the discussions over Batavia's city ordinance on chickens.

      Decorated chickens are found throughout the Holmstad, a senior living community in Batavia. The exhibit is in response to the bulldog sculptures found throughout Batavia, and is a nod to the discussions over Batavia's city ordinance on chickens.
    Courtesy of Charles Davis

 
 

If you haven't seen Batavia's Bulldogs, it's time to head downtown and see the amazing art that the canines are displaying. Kudos to the many artists who took part in the exhibit.

No one is more proud of the exhibit than the residents of the retirement center The Holmstad. Their bulldog, "It's a (Bull) dog's Life," is on the south side of Wilson Street just east of the river.

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"Chris Rakers, our glass fusion instructor, designed it and then five of our residents helped paint it," said Holmstad craft director Amy Haywood.

Resident Ellen Hamilton thought it would be fun to do a similar exhibit at the Holmstad.

It didn't take long for the center's creative director to come up with the perfect subject.

"We chose chickens," she said, "because of the discussion over Batavia's city ordinance."

Rather than ruffle any feathers, resident Phyllis Howat was quick to point out that everyone agreed chickens were the perfect choice.

"It certainly was timely," she said. "There were articles about chickens all over the Daily Herald."

Chuck Taylor and Kevin Haywood quickly got busy cutting out wooden chickens for residents to paint.

Everyone was encouraged to invite family members to join them in painting the chickens. Even Holmstad staff members took part in the fun

"It was fun to see grandchildren come in, helping to paint the chickens," said resident Junellen Johnson.

Johnson, a budding artist, not only painted hens, she also painted the only rooster on campus.

"We had to have a rooster to keep all the hens happy," said Howat. "Although I don't think a rooster is allowed in the ordinance."

With over 50 hens spread across the campus, the lone rooster definitely has something to crow about.

"We have every thing from Van Gogh to Superman," said Johnson. "It's fun to see them everywhere."

According to Haywood, it was also fun to see the event become intergenerational with families working together.

"We even had some great-grandchildren painting," she said.

Apparently the rooster has been strutting his stuff. There are quite a few chicks around campus as well.

Each hen has a number and the residents are encouraged to walk around the campus and participate in the Holmstad Chicken Hunt. There are specific characteristics to look for. For example, participants must find the chicken that comes from the planet of Krypton or find the chicken wearing the red hat.

"If they turn in the questionnaire with five questions answered, they get to choose a plastic egg," said Haywood. "Inside is a piece of candy and some have coupons for a free chicken dinner."

In the fall, the Holmstad will auction off the chickens at a special picnic, complete with horse-drawn wagon rides, an antique car show and other old-fashioned picnic themed events.

"We'll definitely serve chicken for dinner," said Haywood.

Although some of the chickens are nesting in the front yard rather than the back, they are all in compliance with the city ordinance. They are pure bred and free range. They don't cluck and don't require cages.

You can cry "fowl," but it's all in fun.

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