Tag Archives: hens

When it breaks

  When it breaks, may it break well for you. When grief stills your tongue, may it be consoled by a Hostess Ho Ho, a pale ale, a dry red or dark roast. By anything that comforts, may your silent tongue be comforted. When it breaks, may it break well for you. May your surviving […]

All will be well

My little black hen trails me, agitated by tectonic shifts in her young body: ova gathering, releasing, moving through the dark tunnel of her maturity. She has laid two eggs; still, the strange sensations trouble her. And why not? It is hard to lose your childhood, the first and least consolable grief. I cradle her, […]


Already squirrels courting on the maple’s bare branches chasing, tumbling, wild and determined as teenage boys while my old hen sings softly the ancient song of her kind approaching again the nest box long empty which I cushion now with clean straw, feeling her feel the eggs soon to come, how already they speak to […]

Keeping busy

Not long ago, I wrote a relative in the chatty way one writes relatives, with whom meaningful conversations are apparently impossible, involving, as they might, honest emotion. She told me about the weather, and grocery shopping. I described what I had been doing, an unremarkable assortment of mostly pleasant activities: reading, writing, running, puttering about […]


I hoped he was dead when I woke the next morning,  eight hours after I left him holding the hand of the next hospice volunteer. We call it “vigil:”  a bearing witness and keeping company with the actively dying. We do it for them and their loved ones —  exhausted, grieving families and friends — who are desperate […]


Spring has scarcely arrived by the human calendar, but signs are everywhere evident in the natural world. Robins are squawking in the tall junipers that grace the town cemetery, where I often walk.  The songs of the other birds have become more varied;  there is a hint of courtship in the air, though there is no doubt more snow to […]

Meet me in heaven

The wind howls in the dark and up the hill she scatters, the light grey feathers touched with chestnut, specked by blood and blown, blown now, everywhere and nowhere. The bobcat killed her here, after taking her from the yard while I sat in the basement 20 yards away, watching a movie. Unhearing, unseeing, complacent. […]

In which I behave badly, and you set me straight

I have just returned from the home of my neighbor carrying The Unavoidable Gift — this time, a chicken refrigerator magnet —  from her vacation in Kauai, which is practically owned by free-range chickens. Her travels, however, are largely irrelevant, because this is approximately the 164th poultry tchotchke with which my neighbor has favored me […]

A terrible thing to waste

Ever since I puckered up the courage to re-home my rooster Taz, I’ve been feeling guilty about the lack of stimulation in my chickens’ lives. He is off to a randy new free-range home that includes not only hens and other roosters with whom he might develop a bromance, but an eclectic assortment of other interesting […]

The case for chicken love

An alert friend recently drew my attention to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that public health officials are blaming on backyard poultry flocks.   Not just any flocks, mind you, but those that have been indiscriminately cuddled and kissed by their keepers. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, 790 people in 48 states have […]