My Leghorns

Tillie Lays an Egg was inspired by a diminutive Bantam White Leghorn named Snowball. She was friendly and an independent thinker, and I enjoyed having her around so much that I got three more Bantam White Leghorns, Coco, Eggers and Betsy Ross. They were charming birds, but none with the spunk of Snowball. Betsy, however, was a great school visit hen until her retirement last year.

I’ve heard very good things about full-sized Leghorns, and so ordered two white and two brown in the batch from McMurray. It was clear from the first week that these were speedy chickens, with places to go and things to do that did not include me. They did not act like the bantams that I knew and loved. Still, I decided to keep one, if only to have a bright white bird with a brilliant red floppy comb in the flock. I’ve named her Twiggy, as she is stylish, leggy and lean. At only 9 weeks of age, Twiggy already dwarfs Betsy.



Betsy is fascinated by another white chicken. We’ll have to wait and see how this relationship develops. So far, it’s been one-sided. Twiggy has no interest in  getting to know the older generation.

Nursing Home Hens

Yesterday was the day. The five pullets that I’d raised and selected to live at the nursing home were ready to go to their life’s work. The Buff Orpington might be the most naturally friendly chicken I’ve ever known.



But, all of the pullets are relaxed with people.


Black Star pullet, 9 weeks


This is the nursing home. It’s sited in the country, and like many such buildings, looks institutional, with grassy landscaping that is tidy but boring.



But, thanks to it’s director, who understands how animals can enrich the lives of the residents, there is now a coop around the corner. The five pullets are on their way to their new home!



I’d already made sure that it was set-up properly, and that the waterer and feeders were filled and the bedding put down. I set each chicken into their new home.


Cuckoo Maran pullet, 9 weeks


Due to their innate placid temperaments, and also to my handling and care, the chickens calmly entered their new run. I also had the foresight to bring a spaghetti squash. A bit of interesting food settled the flock right down.



I showed the staff how to handle the birds.



We went over daily care routines. They know I’m on call if any questions arise.



The pullets already have names. The residents were asked what their mothers’ names were, so all of the chickens have old-fashioned monikers.



The day was too cool and rainy for the residents to come outside to greet the flock, but they watched from the activity room.



And then I joined them.


This is much, much better than a boring swath of green lawn.


If you like this story, please share (social media buttons are on the bottom of this post.) Maybe another institution will decide to install chickens on their property. Thanks!

Two Gone, Five To Go

Yesterday, a nice woman named April came for Mr. Grumpy and the light splash Andalusian.

Mr. G

Blue Andalusian cockerel, 8 weeks


Splash Blue Andalusian Pullet, 8 weeks

April has a flock of Barred Rocks and white hybrids that she planned on running with a rooster. However, her cockerel has already become people-aggressive, which she rightly is not putting up with. Nor should he be re-homed as you shouldn’t pass along a dangerous rooster to another person. He will likely be culled and his feathers used for fly fishing lures. Meek Mr. Grumpy has totally lucked out. He gets a dozen pullets to roam with, and he gets to move there with his favorite flockmate.

Today five pullets are going to the nursing home. I think that this outgoing and friendly Buff Orpington will be a favorite. I’ll be taking photos and telling you about that venture in another post.


I’m looking forward to smaller flock in the Little Barn. I have names picked out, and I’ll update the Who’s Who page soon.

Turnip Greens

I like eating greens, but I’m not fond of strong, sometimes bitter and sharp leaves, like mustard greens and collards. Sure, you can cook them down with vinegar and pork, but then you lose that vegetable-ness which is what I like about leafy foods in the first place. So, I don’t grow those, but I do plant turnips, which have big and bold tops. When I harvest the turnips, I confess to feeding the tops to the goats and chickens. My animals eat them with enthusiasm, and so I don’t feel guilty about wasting good food. Win-win!

But, early in the summer, when the greens are still young and a tad sweeter, I do eat them. The turnips needed thinning.

turnip greens

I trimmed off the bottoms (fed those to the chickens) and had a bowlful of tender leafy greens. I washed them very well and spun dry in a salad spinner. I turned the heat on high under my cast iron skillet and put in a dollop of that good bacon grease that I keep in the fridge.

bacon grease

I added greens to the skillet,

greens in pan

and turned over constantly with tongs (don’t just stir!)


It took just a couple of minutes for the greens to wilt down to exactly how I like them, they’re still bright green, but tender and cooked through.


I put this batch onto a flour tortilla, added beans (cooked in a homemade tomato sauce) and cheese to make a burrito.


The next night I cooked up the rest of the turnip greens, and tossed them in with spaghetti and feta cheese, and then I ground fresh black pepper generously over the dish. Delicious.