You have 81 chickens, and every one of them has a name?” Correct. Happy Valentine’s Day to the flock. We appreciate you, one and all.
To Splash, the friendliest of all the chickens, who follows me around like a puppy. Somehow, with 80 others in the flock, you always manage to be right by my feet in the crowd. I’m sorry for that time when, while refilling the water, I heard you going “eh-eh-eh-eh” and looked down and saw that your little feathered toe was stuck under my boot. It was pretty darn cute, though. And then you still hung around, wanting to be picked up. You’re just awesome. You’re the reason people have chickens as pets. (A pet who lays deep brown Marans eggs, beat that!)
To Zelda Ziegfeld the Appenzeller, the polka dotted chicken with a Mohawk. Thanks for being patient enough to wear a rainbow lei and pose for a Pride photoshoot. And for being friendly and nice enough to walk around on my outstretched arms like some kind of fabulous parrot. It takes some gumption for a little creature to be pal around with a strange giant of another species.
To the Liege: Nighter Love, Uisdean, Coinneach, Domnhall, Jesus (That’s a Big Chicken), and Jiao Long. You’re my favorites, I admit. You’re just so darn cool. Huge and gorgeous gamebirds, I just love to watch you walk around. I love how calm and friendly you are. Thanks for not minding that I’m constantly picking you up and petting you, handing you over to awestruck strangers for the experience of holding a giant exotic bird with feet as big as a human hand and fiery plumage. Thanks for getting along with all the other chickens and not killing anyone (because no doubt you could).
To Brunhilde, the Barnevelder hen who lost all her toe tips somehow as a chick. I always look for you in the crowd and make sure you’re ok, make sure there are some mealworms or other treats where you can easily get them despite essentially walking on stilettos while the rest of the flock are in sneakers. You’re a pretty and a sweet bird, and I love that you always seem happy and perfectly fine. To Siegfried and Gunther, the Barnevelder roosters, all grown up and handsome.
To Lyeta and Sveta, the Welsummers. To Verdigris, the Blue Copper Marans, to Beithe, the Birchen Marans, and to Penny, Liberty, and Siyu the Black Copper Marans. We love those spectacular dark eggs of yours, chocolate from the Marans, lavishly speckled from the Welsummers. Wow, ladies.
To Mary Magdalene and Marie Salome, our Easter Eggers, and Snow White the Snowy Egger. To Snegurochka and Nieves our Frost Legbars. To Kate Kane, Wonder Woman, and Mystique the Super Blues. To Skye, Reese, Buttercup, Azure, Brulee, and Crème de la, our Cream Legbars. To Lucia, Carmen, and Tosca, our Blue Favaucanas. To Money and Josette, the Isbars. To Catherine de Medici, Esmerelda, Olivia, and Sapphos the Olive Eggers. Double and triple wow, ladies, for your eggs in shades of blue and green, moss and olive, sky and robin. You’re the ones who make the little kids hold an egg in their hand and say, “No way!”
To Little Feather, whom I nursed as a baby chick when you had that bare patch and I didn’t want the others to peck you. You’re all grown up now into a chic White Marans, with fluffy, feathery feet, and it makes me happy every time I see you out and about, happy and healthy.
To “the Mouse” aka Little Mouse aka Violet. You were the cutest, softest grey little baby chick (like a little mouse). You were supposed to grow up to be a Lavender Orpington hen…and instead you’re a rooster. And we kept your name, so you sound like a gangster. You’re so darn good looking! I can’t bring myself to regret your surprise gender.
To our ultra-exotic Swedish Blacks, Ruby Woo, Lady Danger, and Candy Yum Yum (the former MAC Daddy, who turned out to be a hen after all). To Isis the Egyptian Fayoumi. To Dante and Melody the Sumatras. To Coco the glamorous Silver-Laced Cochin. To Saraswati the giant Light Brahma. To Poof and Puff, the Sultans, who people refuse to believe are chickens. To Lucrezia Borgia, our White Crested Polish and still our most eye-catching extravagant gal in the flock. To Zsa Zsa, Eva, and Magda, our Buff and Gold Laced Polish, named for the two blonde and one brunette Gabor sisters (Magda finally triumphing over the others with her own custom dot portrait in the Wall Street Journal article featuring our chickens). Thank you for being your fantastic and varied selves, turning our yard into a fashion runway of impossible plumage. You’re endlessly fun to watch.
[Ruby Woo and Poof. Magda. Puff.]
To all our slightly less exotic pretty girls and daily egg layers, pluckers of weeds and devourers of bugs, friendly birds who come running when you see us approach, patient birds who put up with being sniffed by dogs and fed and petted by visitors. To Goldie the Gold-Laced Wyandotte, who survived an attempted hawk attack and remains one of our friendliest gals. To Winnie the Black-Laced Wyandotte. To Sheila the Australorp. To Bari the Barred Rock, who always lays the perfect egg in the perfect place. To Amanda the Buff Orpington. To Starr the Austra White and Jordana the Swedish Flower Hen. To Annie the pretty, speckled Ancona. To Gams the Light Brown Leghorn and Marilyn the classic White Leghorn. To our Floweries with the astounding round white eggs: Fleur, Rose, Iris, Lily, Petunia, and Daisy. To Sal, our Andalusian Blue and our original big personality little bird.
And to the rest of our boys, showy and crow-y. Papa Bear the giant black Birchen Marans. Blue the blue Birchen Marans, with your designer-clothes coloring. Sven the Cream Legbar, you’ve come into your own and don’t get chased around by the others anymore – good job. Marcus Aurelius the Swedish Flower, glad you’ve mellowed with age, bad boy. Izzy, Jazzy, and Snazzy, the Isbars, pretty tuxedoed gents. Thanks for making it sound like a farm. For keeping the girls safe. For eating out of our hands and playing nice. For disproving what everyone told us about not being able to have multiple roosters in one flock, living in harmony together. You figured it out. We’re glad because we like having you all around.
Feel the love, feathered ones.
[It seems they love me too. Or is it the snacks??]