These hens are mostly Blackrocks, a first generation cross between Plymouth Rock Barred and Rhode Island Reds, so they half come from the same state as Gary Whitehead. When you spend time with chickens you can see what a good poet Whitehead is. He captures them well.
A Glossary of Chickens; by Gary Whitehead
There should be a word for the way
they look with just one eye, neck bent,
for beetle or worm or strewn grain.
“Gleaning,” maybe, between “gizzard”
and “grit.” And for the way they run
toward someone they trust, their skirts
hiked, their plump bodies wobbling:
“bobbling,” let’s call it, inserted
after “blowout” and before “bloom.”
There should be terms, too, for things
they do not do—like urinate or chew—
but perhaps there already are.
I’d want a word for the way they drink,
head thrown back, throat wriggling,
like an old woman swallowing
a pill; a word beginning with “S,”
coming after “sex feather” and before “shank.”
And one for the sweetness of hens
but not roosters. We think
that by naming we can understand,
as if the tongue were more than muscle.
The latest installment in my bucket list thread is this rakish looking model, a large size plastic bucket with a weather proof lid complete with locking handles. I need it for the chickens. Well, really they are hens, laying hens.
I wanted my own fresh eggs, so I bought a henhouse and enclosed a chicken run. It is equipped with suspended containers for water and feed. The feed needs to be replenished regularly and it comes in very large 25 kilo bags. The feed bag goes in the bucket, and it stays dry in all weather. Each morning I refill the feeder from the bucket.
The weather proof locking handles double up to keep out varmints. We don’t have to worry about raccoons or bears in Ireland but never underestimate the intelligence of a fox, a stoat, a rat a mouse or a crow.
The hens are working out well. They are mostly Blackrocks, which is a first generation cross between Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rock Barred. A couple of them are slimmer and have white feathers at the neck. They are White Star crosses, which are Rhode Island Reds crossed with a Light Sussex. I figure William Carlos Williams had either Light Sussex or possibly Leghorns, but he is never so specific is he?
Currently we get 5 to 6 eggs a day from 6 hens. That will tail off come winter, but a light I installed in the coop should prevent a complete drop off.
Hens are great for reducing your garbage load as they eat all your food scraps. They then produce copious amounts of good manure which goes to the vegetable garden, to produce more food. Should they stop laying for any reason there is always a recipe for coq au vin…….
The Red Wheelbarrow; by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white