Visit our kitchen in the springtime and chances are you’ll find a box of peeping, cheeping chicks. Last week, I got “the call” from the post office. My chicks from Murray MacMurray Hatchery in Iowa had arrived. We look forward to this day every year.
This year, we are trying Polish Top Hat chickens. I’ve had these chickens in the past and they are very docile birds who lay white eggs. They live a long time and add a bit of ornate pompom-ness to the coop - something a knitwear designer like me genuinely enjoys. And the kids love looking at them too!
I also ordered some Silkies, a bantam (miniature) breed I have been fascinated by. They grow into white puffballs and remind me of angora rabbits. Another fiber connection.
The last breed we got are called Cuckoo Marans. They are large chickens and rather old-fashioned looking - with grey and white striped feathers. The allure for me is the dark chocolate colored eggs. Won't my egg basket look pretty next year with blue, olive, buff, white and chocolate colored eggs?
It seems that Chicken Fever is sweeping the country. No, I'm not talking some obscure bird disease. Chicken Fever is the lure of keeping your own chickens. It's exciting to see so many new people enjoying keeping birds. I just finished a quick, very fun read by Catherine Goldhammer called Still Life with Chickens. It's about a woman and her daughter starting over in a new house with six chickens. The chickens thread through the book helping the author and her daughter start over.
This morning I took the photos of the chicks in front of some colorfully painted pages from one of our children's books called The Painter who Loved Chickens. Olivier Dunrea paints and tells the stories of a man who follows his dream to live on a farm and raise and paint chickens by selling his artwork of eggs and chickens. It is a delightful story for all ages.
Many years ago in an antique bookstore, I found a book from the 1800's called The history of the hen fever. A humorous record by George P. Burnham. (It has just been reprinted by Michigan Historical Reprint Series.) I read it through quickly - I was fascinated with the fact that in the 1800's, hen fever - or the collecting and keeping of exotic chickens - was extremely popular in the United States. History always repeats itself. Maybe it's time for chickens to have their day.