Friday, November 04, 2011

The Coop de Grace

So what is with that corny play on words, anyway? It is a tribute to this woman, my grandmother, Grace Whittenburg Shaw (shown holding my sweet dad as a baby). A  farmer's wife, she is the first person I remember who kept chickens, except hers were not pets. Ahem. I'm not sure what she would have thought about my ga-ga-ness over my girls, but I think she might be pleased that I have a little flock of my own. When I was little, my folks used to call me "Little Grace," as they thought I resembled her. As I have grown older, I realize that we have more in common than I ever could have imagined as a child. Sometimes I wish I could have known my grandmothers at the age I am now. Thankfully, much of them remain in my parents, my aunts and uncles and in some of the treasures they have left behind.

Now that you have the back story, I think it is time to introduce you to my little flock. They all have their own personalities, which was just one of the lovely surprises of having my own backyard chickens. Honestly, I don't think I will every look at a fryer in the grocery store in quite the same way again. Speaking of which, I get a lot of questions about whether or not I will eat my chickens when they have outlived their egg production years. Are they serious? I have named these birds and I kiss their heads (oh yes I do). I look them in the eye every single day and have been known to sing "You Are My Sunshine" to the Buff Orpingtons. I have their retirement coop already planned. Enough said.

Still with me? Here we go.

First, allow me to introduce you to the Buff Orpingtons, Abigail (right) and Dolley (left). They are my reliable layers. They are always the last to go into the coop at night. Abigail is the escape artist of the flock and my husband refers to her as his "white whale." He swears up and down that Dolley stands sentinel while Abigail digs out a tunnel under the fencing around the run. The garden with all of its tender shoots is their goal.  I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. But they are good girls. For the most part.
Dolley & Abigail scouting escape routes.
Next is my beautiful Plymouth Barred Rock, Eleanor. She is the Queen of the Coop, first in the pecking order. She definitely has the queen attitude. Her little toadie is Frances, a Sliver Laced Wyandotte. Frances is the most beautiful of all the hens, I think. However, she is barren. She has never produced an egg. So I am happy to keep her as my coop ornament. She can be kind of aloof, which I attribute to her "I am the prettiest of all" status.

Eleanor ~ It's good to be Queen.

Frances, famous turkey impersonator.
And lastly we have Beatrice, or the B-52, as she is sometimes called. Bea is an Ameracauna, and she lays beautiful blue eggs. She is another good layer. Bea is just a good old girl, friend to all. She recently pulled a fast one on me, a story which I will tell soon. I learned a lesson from her, but not before giving the Tempe police department a good laugh.

Beatrice, the B-52, waiting
for tea and crumpets.
Star of the Tempe PD.
So there you have the girls of The Coop de Grace. They are a lovely little flock. They have taught me a lot in the past year. And I love them with all my heart.


mainely stitching said...

They are BEAUTIFUL girls!!!! :D

How wonderful that your grandmother raised chickens, too. I also take after my (maternal) grandmother in a lot of ways, and wish very much we could sit down over a cup of tea for a long chat. :)

Penelope's Beehive said...

Oh Joy...such a lovely gaggle of girls you have! Might hens be part of a "gaggle" do you reckon? My dear mother would tell tales of gathering eggs as a young girl...reaching ever so gently 'neath warm, fluffy bellies.
Wishing you many delightful adventures with your special ladies.

Ever warmly,
Judy ox