Meet the Flock

by Laura on May 9, 2011

Here is Edna, an Australorpe, the littlest, the feistiest, capital squawker and pecker. Within minutes of reaching the brooder, and despite the fact that she is roughly half the size of her week-older counterparts, she was putting them all in line, hand on proverbial hip.  She has a no-nonsense matronly gate, and is the kind of chick that you can picture in her dotage even as she is an irresistible bit of fluff.  She is named for Edna Lewis, renowned traditional Southern cook.

Here is Edith, an Americauna, a veritable warbler, our little songstress.  She moon walks when she gets to scratching, and prefers to scoot over walking, creeping along on her belly.  She is named for Edith Piaf, famed French warbler.  They sound rather alarmingly alike.  She pecks the hardest, too; sometimes I think she’ll peck a hole in the feeder, but she is gentle with the others and with me.  I can hear her from my desk, “thunk, thunk,” as she pecks at the bottom of the bathtub, and “weeoo, weeoo, weeoo,” as she sings.  She will lay blue green eggs one day.

Here is Florence, a Rhode Island Red, curious, alert, and the flock’s sounder of alarm.  She’s stirring up one of her usual kerfuffles here.  This morning she was so determined to see outside the brooder that, craning up and back, she fell backwards repeatedly.  When we introduced new chicks to the flock, she PEEP peep peep peep peeped until Beatrice and Edith joined her as far away from them as possible.  She’s also our flyer, the first to explore her wings; she sets off quite a commotion every time she decides to try her hand at flight in such a small space.  Florence is named for Florence Reichtzigel, the retired farmer who first taught me about canning and preserving when I was a girl.

Here is Beatrice, a White Plymouth Rock.  Our former Bossy Betty has mellowed into one of the calmest and most docile of the chicks.  Beatrice is named for Beatrice Ojakangas, Minnesota cookbook author specializing in Scandinavian cooking and baking.  She has beautiful white hair; Beatrice’s butter yellow fluff will be replaced soon by snow white feathers.  She is happy now to be held and sung to.  She also seems to be the most aware of humans, though quite calm about our presence.  She hates, hates, hates, though, to have her bedding material changed.  Oh my goodness, is that a trauma!  Poor, Beatrice.

And here is Clementine, little Clementine, an Australorpe.  Agreeable, quiet, and serene, with bright eyes and a steadiness about her.  She won’t be bullied, but she also won’t push anyone from her spot at the feeder, and almost nothing unsettles her.  Clementine is named for the sweet cook in Samuel Chamberlain’s Clementine in the Kitchen, my favorite food memoir.  Unruffled, cheerful, and ever sweet.

We had a sixth chick, but we lost Alice, an Americauna, when she was four days old.  She was named for Alice Waters, American local food champion and restauranteur, and she was my favorite, the Audrey Hepburn of chicks, with big, beautiful eyes and a serene character.  She is buried now beneath a tree.


The chicks have brought us so much pleasure in two short weeks.  In some ways I feel like a new mother again, discovering their personalities, unsure of myself when Alice was sick and then dying, dedicated to their care, learning every day, and celebrating their small milestones. The mundane and routine can be quite exciting when new.  I could sit at the brooder watching them for long hours had I the time.  There is also something about observing a creature related to the most ancient creatures, the dinosaurs.  It roots us in and to a kind of ephemeral timeline, to history.  I’m so glad we’ve taken this little flock into our care for so many reasons, but mostly because they are a source of great joy.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Frog May 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Edna sounds like my kind of “chick”!

2 Laura May 9, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Mmm hmm…

3 Frances May 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Oh My Goodness!! I want to hold them all! How adorable…

4 Laura May 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I know! They’re about 15 feet from my desk. Hard to resist. But the sweetest background noise ever.

5 Frances May 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I don’t know how you keep your hands off of them!! I am totally smitten!

6 Joyce May 9, 2011 at 8:42 pm

If these aren’t the most adorable little chicks ever, then I’ll be darned!
I love all of them & their names. I have to admit that Clementine is in the lead for my favorite as of now. I can’t wait to see them grow up to be big & strong!

7 Laura May 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm

She’s my favorite right now, too…

8 Winnie May 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

They are SO precious and I love their names! I am so sorry about Alice, but sadly, it happens. I lost 2 of mine to one of my dogs last summer :(

9 Laura May 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Thanks, Winnie. Yes, I knew it might happen. So sorry you lost two. And to your dog. It’s hard to forgive them their natures, isn’t it. When the other chicks started attacking her it took me a couple of days to let it go.

10 krisannjacobson May 11, 2011 at 10:09 am

I’m sad not have seen them up close and personal yet!

11 Laura May 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

If not before Sunday, then perhaps that night when we return from the foraging dinner… You and Anji are welcome anytime. And Bill, Andy, and Allie If they’d like to come, too. xo

12 Jenifer October 2, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I love that you put so much thought into their names and detailed all their personalities…they are beautiful! I have 6 hens. And their individuality, their personalities…all of it…just so much fun. I can’t imagine *not* having them now. I wish more people had them!

13 Laura October 10, 2011 at 7:53 am

I know. People who don’t have chickens often look at me a little quizzically when I say what funny personalities they have, but it’s true. I just returned from a trip to California, and they greeted me loudly for about ten minutes, each in their distinctive voice.

14 Nina Williams-Mbengue December 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Toooo sweet! I am Edna Lewis’ niece Nina; my daughters and I got a kick out of this website and the little chick named “Edna!” We are getting ready to fly to Virginia to spend Christmas with Aunt Edna’s 87 year old sister Ruth who still raises chickens, quail and guinea fowl from the egg – I can’t wait to hear the sound of the chicks chirping in a box in her kitchen!! Merry Christmas!
Nina Williams-Mbengue

15 Laura December 19, 2011 at 8:51 am

Thank you so much for writing. You’ve made my day. I can’t imagine how you found my website. Merry Christmas to you and your family, and best wishes. Your aunt is my culinary hero.

16 Janet March 16, 2012 at 9:20 am

I just discovered your website and have to tell you I love this post. It stirred sweet childhood memories in me. Although I’ve not kept chickens as an adult, many in my in-town neighborhood are building roosts and offering eggs as barter, and I love it. Your site is gorgeous and inspiring.

17 Laura March 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thank you so much, Janet. I’m touched. Bartering with eggs is such a nice idea. Since it’s just two of us now I often have a refrigerator positively rolling with eggs.

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