What is this space machine you point in my general direction?
Well hello! How’s this lukewarm winter treating everyone? Here, it’s a chance to do a little more tinkering with the chicken set-up and rake up those leaves we didn’t get to this fall, when Running Away to Home first came out and I was internally FREAKING OUT instead of raking leaves. All better now!
So we’ve tried to avoid naming the chickens, because there is still an outside chance we will eat them someday. I know, I know. I’ve wavered on this one. But if we’re going for the full farming experience, I can’t skip the hard part of the circle of life, right? Maybe. The jury is still out. Sam gets pale every time I mention that one of the Ameraucanas still isn’t laying, and she should eventually be useful in some way. Sam points out that Willa, our schnoodle, is also not very useful, but we don’t eat her.
We all know Muffy has a name, because she has shared her coop experience here on this blog. But recently, we’ve named another chicken, in honor of a powerhouse of a woman. The kind of woman who will change how you see things. Do you know someone like that?
I first met this whirling dervish of activity (also known as my best friend Amy’s mom) on a small farm just outside of Colfax. I was a fourth grader.
Beverly had waist-length white hair, and she was a lawyer, a farmer, and a former social worker. Her idea of casualwear was (and is) Carhartt work pants. She was also a screamin’ feminist in a small town where such things weren’t so much appreciated. She pinned an ERA button onto my jean jacket, and away we went.
Beverly and I have been friends ever since. She’s always shown by example that a woman can do whatever she wants to do, as long as she doesn’t much care what others think. Bev also taught me that you can gain momentum as you age, also as long as you don’t much care what people think. Thus, I bought my first flock of chickens just as I’ve begun to sprout a few gray hairs. (Only a few. Like maybe ten so far.)
Bev went to law school in the 1970s when she was raising twin babies, largely alone. She ran her farm, which had goats that she occasionally kept indoors because she liked them very much. She also kept bees, harvested her own grapes to make preserves, and did not prohibit me from swearing in her presence, which was one of my favorite pastimes as a fourth-grader. She laughed at my Mr. Bill jokes, called me a writer from the time that we met, and, like the women in Mrkopalj, Bev taught me that herbal remedies and eating your own food (grown in your presence) are the first line of defense in living a healthy life.
And so, this fiesty and gorgeous Rhode Island Red, a layer so prolific and so efficient that she’s in and out of the laying box before most of the chickens have even gotten off the roost, is Beverly.
A poultry powerhouse. May she live up to her honorable name. Do you know someone who changed your perceptions of how things should be? Yes? You should tell them. You really should.
Posted by jen
Beverly’s a Rhode Island Red with deep reddish feathers that have some funky greenish tinge.
Did my best to catch her in action, scratching in the yard. No go. Chickens move too much.