urban hens

From “The Hen: An Appreciation,” which is found in the book of essays, The Second Tree from the Corner, by E.B. White, 1944:

Chickens do not always enjoy an honorable position among city-bred people, although the egg, I notice, goes on and on. Right now the hen is in favor. The war has deified her and she is the darling of the home front, feted at conference tables, praised in every smoking car, her girlish ways and curious habits the topic of many an excited husbandryman to whom yesterday she was a stranger without honor or allure.

My own attachment to the hen dates from 1907, and I have been faithful to her in good times and bad. Ours has not always been an easy relationship to maintain. At first, as a boy in a carefully zoned suburb, I had neighbors and the police to recon with; my chickens had to be as closely guarded as an underground newspaper. Later, as a man in the country, I had my old friends in town to reckon with, most of whom regarded the hen as a comic prop straight out of vaudeville….Their scorn only increased my devotion to the hen. I remained loyal, as a man would to a bride whom his family received with open ridicule. Now it is my turn to wear the smile, as I listen to the enthusiastic cackling of urbanites, who have suddenly taken up the hen socially and who fill the air with their newfound ecstasy and knowledge and the relative charms of the New Hampshire Red and the Laced Wyandotte. You would think, from their nervous cries of wonder and praise, that the hen was hatched yesterday in the suburbs of New York, instead of in the remote past in the jungles of India.

To a man who keeps hens, all poultry lore is exciting and endlessly fascinating. Every spring I settle down with my farm journal and read, with the same glazed expression on my face, the age old story of how to prepare a brooder-house…


I have posted before, at some point, how much I love our neighborhood for a variety of reasons (the pig walker–the pig’s name is Chorizo, our enormous wandering flock of guinea hens, the “urban farms,” the back entrance to the huge park where we hike and mountain bike), but the tons of Little Free Libraries are a big reason.  Sadly (for me), though, most of the books are either for children or are books that I’m not really into.  But, yesterday night as we were walking the dog, the husband pointed out a new library to me–I was in the middle of a reenactment of some work drama and didn’t even notice.  Oh my gosh!  This new little library had books in it that were actually on my to-read list and had a few I’d read and enjoyed!!!!  SO exciting!  So, I took these two books–I notice that one is the book @healthyontheinside is reading right now!  Today, I’ll bring over two of my books and drop a little thank you note in their mailbox!  SO excited to have found a kindred reading spirit in my neighborhood!  The husband is currently finishing the install of his custom designed and built air filtration and dust collection system for his garage shop, but once that’s done, I want him to build a little library for us, too (among a zillion other projects I’ve already lined up for him, ha!).

I’m grateful to be working from home today.  I have so much to do for this huge MLK Day project…and now there’s terrible weather predicted.  Getting to work on it from home while also taking care of some errands like getting my car inspected is nice.  And, anything feels less stressful when you get to do it comfortably and in your own time.  Happy Wednesday, friends! :)