Floyd County Commissioner Rhonda Wallace and Angie Lewis, president of Citizens First Bank, followed him in with masks and plastic boot covers as the flock noisily parted around them.
The women’s visit was part of National Farm-City Week.
“I think it’s very important that we know what’s in our community and we need to support the farmers in our community,” said Wallace.
The Floyd County Farm Bureau women’s committee hosted the event, which highlights the partnership between farmers and their urban counterparts who help prepare, transport, market and sell their products.
As Rush led his visitors around his 500-acre farm located just north of the Model schools, he explained to them how the economy has affected his expenditures as he works to maintain his hay fields, cows and chickens.
“(With) utilities and all expenses, this feed with the price of grain going up, it’s just about doubled since 2008,” said Rush.
Six long chicken houses stand out prominently on the grounds of Creekview Angus. Each building houses an average of 30,000 chickens that are fed and watered for a duration of 35 days, beginning when they’re day-old chicks. Each year, the farm produces more than 6 million pounds of chicken, according to Rush.
With automated feeding equipment, lights and fans, Rush estimated that his utility bill averages $1,000 a month for the houses. The power isn’t simply for comfort and convenience. Temperature is carefully monitored and Rush takes steps to ensure his flock is well maintained.
“If we lost power from Georgia Power and our generator failed, we would have a catastrophe here within 30 minutes because mainly they’d suffocate because we have to force the air through there to them.”
It was an eye-opening experience for Wallace and Lewis, who hadn’t stepped into a chicken house before.
“It’s been wonderful for me to be able to see that and to be able to experience that,” said Wallace. “I eat a lot of chicken so I guess it’s a new appreciation for the chicken that we eat so much of.”
Several other local businesswomen participated in tours to local farms on Monday including Mayor Evie McNiece, District Attorney Leigh Patterson, Mary Louise Lever of the Georgia Highlands College Foundation and Lisa Smith, executive director of the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau.