Used with permission, the photograph to the left is by Mitzi Cowart, one of my fellow poultry enthusiasts at BackyardChickens.com. I think it looks like a chicken convention. Isn't that rooster (in the middle) a beauty? A big thank-you goes to Mitzi.
The picture book of the day is Queenie: One of the Family, by Bob Graham. Caitlin's dad, an earring-wearing hipster, saves a chicken from drowning, and the family takes her home, where the little hen fits in fine. They name her Queenie. She belongs to a nearby farm, though, and Caitlin and her parents take her back to the rightful owners. Queenie returns their kindness by coming back each day "over the fence...along the path...through the woods" to lay an egg for her rescuers. Illustrated in Grahams's humorous cartoon style, this cheerful story is a bit too convoluted to share the pinnacle with the author's well-crafted Oscar's Half Birthday, published 8 years later, but young readers will root for Queenie all the way. The school library copy we borrowed is well-loved and worn.
My own little backyard flock of two hens is doing well, having sorted out their roommate differences. When a new chicken is introduced to the existing ones, they really do go through a pecking-order initiation. It's not easy to watch. Fuzzy the resident hen was very territorial about everything, from the food bowl to individual blades of grass, and reminded Lovey, the new one, of her place by pecking her. A lot. Eventually I gave them a joint project: a spaghetti squash to attack and eat, which they did with relish. After that, things settled down considerably. Fuzzy is the queen of the coop, and Lovey is blooming as the princess, growing in confidence each day.
Queenie: One of the Family
written and illustrated by Bob Graham
Candlewick Press, 1997