How Novella Got Her Chickens (Groove) Back

I got my first hens in 1998. I was living in Seattle at the time, Beacon Hill, in a house we called the Hen House. Not because we had chickens. Bill and I found the remnants of an old Chinese restaurant sign, written in that funny chopsticks font, on a street corner. Being hoarders, we took the sign home and hung it on our porch awning. The word in chopstick font, cut off in the “N” area was HEN. Then I got chickens. Maybe it was a sign from the universe.

Anyway, I didn’t know anything. I remember feeding them cornmeal. Only later did I figure out they will lay more eggs if you feed them actual chicken food, specially formulated. I also built a very questionable chicken coop. This type of construction would continue until I finally figured out that carpenters/builders are worth their weight in gold, and make things look beautiful–and can make a fully functional (ie predator proof) coop.

Since that first flock, I’ve had several more, but none feel quite as special as my current flock. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was so sick and tired, I couldn’t do anything. Including shutting the chicken coop up at night. I lost that flock to predators–raccoons? oppossoms? I don’t know. But there were feathers everywhere, and I had to face the facts: my life as a mom wasn’t going to be as easy as it was when I was single and able to do everything on the farm that needed doing.

Fast forward two years, and I have a new flock of hens. Here they are.
chickens

Some came from a friend who raised them from chicks, some came from Dare 2 Dream Farm, which sells chicks and chickens, coops, and cool t-shirts. The pullets we got from Dare 2 Dream started laying a few weeks ago! Here’s the nest o’eggs.

eggphoto

Note that the dark brown one is a wooden egg, which fools the girls into thinking no one (no one!) is taking their eggs. Sneaky. Post-baby (I have a toddler now, I’m told), the chickens feel so right, so good. They are easy to care for (just some feeding and cleaning). Putting them to bed, shutting their door, is part of our bedtime ritual now. Frannie says, Goodnight chickens, and helps shut the door. I know, it’s sick how sweet that is. And…eggs.

eggeater

We like ours poached. Served on a small rickety table. We eat them in our pajamas. They are the Best Eggs Ever.

If you have any chicken questions, and you live in the Bay Area, I’ll be at the Biofuel Oasis’s Harvest Festival at 3pm on September 21. The BFO is having lots of fun events that day, like a honey tasting and kombucha making class. Here are the details.

16 responses to “How Novella Got Her Chickens (Groove) Back

  1. Nothing better than an egg just out of the coop….the whites stay firm., the yolks are bright yellow. We feed our (8) chickens all kinds of scraps, and since they also forage, they’re very economical. This afternoon, they snacked on the trimmings from a head of broccoli and the left-over beef brisket.

  2. Bliss!!! :)

  3. Welcome back to the world of livestock. And don’t forget you’re supposed to bring Frannie over to visit her Dairy Goat Mother (MUCH better than a Fairy God Mother any day!) and play with the kids before they get too big. I think she’ll fall in love with Tinkerbell.

  4. Yeah, teach ‘em young to love a properly-poached egg! :)

  5. woo! this is so amazing. i’m so glad you have chickens again. :) and that F is loving on ‘em, too. are you still having your farmstand on the 28th? if so, I’ll try to stop by with my girl P.

  6. I have a soft spot for chicken farmers. When I was a kid my grandmother had a large chicken operation in Iowa. I remember watching her grade eggs when I was about 5 years old. I enjoyed your post.

  7. The kitty pajamas are pretty special, great egg-eating clothes.

  8. That’s a link to a pic of what my grandmother calls “the Cluckin’ egg”. It’s over 100 years old, made of ceramic and was given to her by her mother when she came to Canada, from Ireland, in 1951. The Cluckin’ Egg was given to me last year and now doubles as a darning egg.

    I like your wooden Cluckin’ Egg.

  9. They are indeed the best eggs ever!

  10. Hi Novella,
    For more or less two years I follow yor blog from here Hamburg/Germany. A friend gave me your books with the words “Natalie, there is another women as crazy as you”. She was right, I loved the book, really.
    An I love chicken! And it seems that our chicken are beloved by all the children here in the street , especially now when the have babys (every year in september, why ever!) and so their parents no complain for tehe rooster.
    My own 12yeared foster daughter is mental disabeld and has a lot of problems but in school every body wants to be with her — for the chicken :)
    Good luck for your farm an familly
    Natalie

  11. Your daughter is adorable! (the chickens too! – I only have two left and they’re not laying…going to take a little break this winter, and get a new flock next year. Gotta get up the gumption to cull the remaining two first, though – wish me luck!)

  12. Nothing like eggs from your own chickens.

  13. UprootedBamboo

    Feels good reading this…….In June, 2 days before I was supposed to get my 2 baby goats, we received a beautiful 2 day old baby girl (foster to adopt). Good Lord, I had no idea my identity would change so much. I was the urban farmer I had worked so hard to become. I decided to put off the goats for a year or so and just a month ago, 3 of my chickens were killed by a raccoon who clawed open my raccoon proof door. It seriously made me feel so shitty that I couldn’t protect them like I had so diligently done before. Reading this makes me feel not so bad and I cant wait for the day my little one can tell my other girls good night.

  14. I actually gasped and said “WHAT!?” out loud when I saw the photo of eggs in the nets, thinking that the wooden one was an actual egg! I have a Maran chicken, and she’s supposed to lay “chocolate” colored eggs (which she doesn’t, although they are lovely), so I had a moment of intense jealousy seeing that dark brown. Congrats on the return to chickenry! :)

  15. Such a heartwarming tale!

  16. What a cutie! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who made mistakes with my first flock of chickens lol! Now we have a whole grassfed meat operation and a farmstay. Practice makes perfect.

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