Backyard chickens are pretty popular, and for good reason. What other pet delivers affection, entertainment, companionship, plus fertilizer and fresh, tasty eggs? If you’ve been smitten by the burb of a motherly hen—or if you’d like to know what it’s like to raise your own flock—have I got a treat for you!
Hasten thee to the library or bookstore and pick up a copy of Once Upon A Flock: Life With My Soulful Chickens, by Lauren Scheuer. (If that name sounds familiar, you might have read her delightful blog, Scratch and Peck.)
This is not a how-to book. There are plenty of those already written. Rather, this is a witty and heartwarming account of what it’s like to own chickens, or in this case, be owned by them.
Scheuer (right) shares how she came to want a flock of her own, how she designed and built a coop, and then another, and another. You’ll meet Marky, the terrier who stands guard against predators, and Lil White, the southern belle of hendom. There’s Hattie, who strip-mines the yard, and Lucy, the special needs hen. Roosterman’s crowing is almost his undoing. And finally, there’s Pigeon, the abused bird who rises to rule the roost.
The stories alone would suffice, but Scheuer is a professional artist. You will love her illustrations! Whether sketches or watercolors, they bring the stories to life. (She lavishly illustrates her blog, too.)
My only complaint is that the book wasn’t longer. You would think that over 240 pages would be plenty, but with the space allotted to the illustrations, I finished the book too soon. Happily, there’s always more on the blog.
I’m not the only one who loved this book. Most jacket blurbs are overstated praise, but in this case they’re very accurate. For example:
This book is full of delight, whimsy, joy, and hilarity, yet it goes much deeper than that. Each member of this little flock has her own personality traits, preferences, and logic. Some are compassionate and nurturing, others competitive and mean-spirited. You will learn more about chickens than you ever thought possible, and will fall in love with them along the way. –Stacey O’Brien, author of Wesley the Owl
So there you have it. While you’re out getting a copy for yourself, I’m going outside to bring my hens the remains of last night’s watermelon. Their obvious enjoyment in pecking the juicy fruit still stuck to the rind makes me happy too!
The illustration of author Lauren Scheuer reading her book was taken from her blog, Scratch and Peck.).