A local farmer started videotaping some songs in the chicken coop for his grandkids, but now he's being recognized all the way to Italy.
Russell Loewen and his wife run a vegetable farm just five miles outside of Winnipeg, and they also have a chicken coop that doubles as his music studio.
Raising chickens for five years, Loewen has recently found that when he sings a certain tone or pitch, he can make the chickens cackle loudly. He calls the hens his Morning Jabber Cackle Choir.
"The reason I started singing is because we've got four grandkids and they don't live here. Two of them live in Germany and two live in Ohio," says Loewen.
The families do visit back and forth occasionally but in the meantime, Loewen thought it best to keep connected to his family.
"We've always sung as a family. In the summertime, we have chickens free-ranging and of course, they're in the thick of it, chasing chickens, holding them, coddling them. Being part of the farm is a great experience for a kid."
The grandchildren wanted to see their grandparents, as well as the farm animals. That is when Loewen started singing his songs in the chicken coop.
"I try to sing one song a day, just to motivate myself. I made a commitment to do one song a day between December 1 and April 1," as the late spring, summer, and fall months Loewen is busy farming.
He's sung and recorded roughly 200 songs to date.
"My wife bought me an Alexa for Christmas. Recently I've just been asking Alexa to play the top songs from 1978 and if one jumps out at me I'll probably play it or do it."
A few titles of Loewen's include 'Sweet Home Manitoba', 'Cluck a Song' and 'I’m a Believer (in Henny Penny)'.
"I do a mix of straight children's songs and pop and folk songs. The song 'Everything Possible' is one that we've sung to our kids. Then a few months ago my four-year-old granddaughter from Germany sang that to me, which broke me up and I started crying."
Initially, Loewen just recorded the songs for his grandchildren and sent them via email. Then his friends caught wind and wanted him to send them for their grandkids. Rather than send things separately, Loewen decided to simply upload the songs to YouTube, and it blew up.
"My daughter got a text from Italy yesterday saying, 'Hey, we love Grandpa Russ's songs and our kindergarten teachers are showing the songs to the kids.' I'm thinking Italy? I'm just having fun and not looking to be famous."
Loewen is simply happy that people are enjoying his videos.
"I just hope people enjoy it. If you can sing along with some songs and have fun doing it, that's great," he says.