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Archive for July 10th, 2012

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

So you published a book, what now? The answer keeps coming to me as “write more.” After 471 free downloads from Kindle when Blessen was free for the 4th of July holiday, I wondered what it may mean for book sales. An author friend said, “Your readers will want more.” This is a tremendous burden. And terrifying! In an attempt to embrace this burden, I decided to do some chicken research.

In Blessen, her chicken Blue dies quickly, attacked by a hawk. In the next book, Sunshine, Blessen’s new life chicken, will not die, I promise. But that means I need to know more about the actual raising of chickens. In our household, we have had fish, cats, and dogs. No chickens. But my neighbors, Harvey and Opal Broussard, in their retirement are raising 6 hens.

As a young girl, Opal participated one year in 4-H. She got 50 chicks to raise. They were of the butchering variety. She didn’t name her chickens, but she cared for them. She fed them, kept their coop clean, and was committed to proper record keeping. She was ready for the Chicken of Tomorrow contest. All 50 of her chickens were ready to go to the LSU Ag Center, but for some reason that she does not remember today, they didn’t go. And sadly, one day when she returned home from school, her mother had butchered all 50 chickens and placed them in the freezer. Opal told her mother she would never again eat chicken out of the freezer.

Needless to say, Harvey and Opal’s brood of 6 hens are laying hens and will die of old age. They each have names and unique personalities. They are Stella, Rhoda, Lacey, Estelle (nicknamed “Big Mama”), Buffy, and Laura.

Opal told me that there is really a “pecking order.” In my opinion, Harvey is on the top rung. The chickens watch and follow him where ever he goes. Stella likes to be held, so she walked up to Harvey, pecked his shoe, and he gently wrapped his hands around her feathered breast and cradled her in his arms. I took this opportunity to pet her. How can I describe this softness? Softer than silk. Softer than my kitten’s fur. The softest thing I have ever felt.

Harvey was most concerned over his Austrolope hen, Laura. She was “broody.” Broody means she wants to nest on an egg. These hens usually lay daily, but there is no rooster around, so their eggs are unfertilized. Instinctual, however, they occasionally want a family of their own. This behavior can be detrimental to the broody hen. She wants to sit on the nest all day, no eating or drinking. Harvey being the careful papa would take Laura off the nest about 15 times a day and put her in a pool of water to cool her off and try to influence her to eat. She did not run around and cluck like the others. With tail feathers poofed out, she stopped and dug in one spot making a rumbling growl. She could not be satisfied until she could rest on her nest. Then here comes Harvey again. She was one miserable momma. I know how she feels.

Broody Laura

I learned a lot about raising chickens and think that at least one chapter may need to be dedicated to the subject. Do you think young readers will enjoy learning about taking care of chickens? Blessen and her author need a copy of Raising Chickens for Dummies.

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