Another Day in the Country
The exceptional poultry farmer
© Another Day in the Country
This spring, my cousin Vicki sent me a book about chickens.
“I don’t really know what the book is about,” she said. “In fact, I think it’s a children’s book; but when I saw the title it made me think of you.”
The title of the book was, “Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer,” by Kelly Jones. The cover was interesting. It pictured a girl about 10 years old with a big fat hen on her head. A rather mad-looking Leghorn was perched in the second “U” in “unusual,” and there was a gray, frizzy chicken with glasses in one corner.
I was intrigued, so I started reading the book.
Sure enough, it was a kids’ book, but there’s a little kid in all of us, so I kept reading. As I read, I realized that this book was not only a story; it was also an instruction manual for taking care of chickens.
On Page 67, it showed the anatomy of a chicken, which would have been helpful to me when I first got chickens, had too many roosters, and ended up having to butcher some.
A few pages later, it tells you how much food and water a chicken needs per day. Another good thing to know, but then again my chickens have never been cost effective.
I was probably a third of the way into the book when my daughter called to see whether I was available to go to California for my grandson’s spring break.
Of course, I said, yes, and when I packed my suitcase, the chicken book went into the side pocket. I’ve always had this wish to introduce Dagfinnr to the fun of having chickens, and maybe now was the time.
We had a ball during spring break. I offered to read the book aloud, but Dagfinnr wasn’t really interested. He was reading some book about dragons, and chickens just didn’t cut it. When I headed back to Kansas a couple of weeks later, the chicken book lay on the arm of the couch, unread.
However! (Don’t you just loved a “however,” which signals a change in the course of the story?) However, when I once again came to visit the Napa Valley when school was out for the summer, Dagfinnr announced to me that he had a summer reading list, and guess what was on the list? “Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer,” was there and since he already had the book on the arm of the couch, he’d begun to read.
I was so tickled because in the back of my mind, where I keep my wish list, I’d been thinking about the possibility of introducing this kid to his own chickens. Maybe we could patch together a chicken house. The garden already was enclosed and would work as their personal habitat. Why not?
What do you do, these days, to entice kids away from video games? It’s an impossible task, and I found myself joining in with my little digital tablet that I, too, can play games on, and read books on, and watch videos on — an endless stream of entertainment.
Here we sat on the couch — the 10-year-old and the very much older woman, playing games, but not with each other.
And then it happened. Yesterday he started telling me about the latest plot in the “Unusual Chicken” story.
“Where did you stop reading?” he wanted to know. “Let me catch you up.”
Now we sat on the couch, laughing about how silly chickens can be, and I said, “Do you think it would be fun to try and raise some chicks?”
Ah, the magic question, and then came the truly magical answer,
“Oh, yeah, Baba, do you think we could?”
About that time, neither hell nor high water could have stopped me!
We did pause long enough to get parental approval, and then we forthwith ordered a little chicken coop for four hens, which is coming in a few days with “minimal assembly required.”
We think we can manage it. We have a screwdriver and a hammer laid by, and I’m looking for the staple gun his mother and I bought to put down new baseboard last summer.
Early this morning, we headed for Napa and the feed store that carries (would you believe it?) baby chicks year ’round! That’s California for you!
We discovered that they’d just sold out the last of their chicks, but more were coming Friday. Guess who will be at the door when it opens.
“Is this the craziest thing we’ve done in a while?” I asked my grandson.
“It’s insane!” he said with the biggest grin and his eyes sparkling.
We’ve been discussing chicken breeds and chicken sizes nonstop. For sure every chicken will be a different breed, and they will all be hens. It is the Napa Valley, after all. We can hardly wait for Friday, which for you will just be another day in the counry! Enjoy!