Just in time for April as National Poetry Month.
March Memoir Madness: More Than Conquerors

March Memoir Madness: Once Upon a Flock

For a long while, I read a ton of memoirs each month.

And then, well, I overdosed on memoirs. Too many were leaving me unsatisfied or just plain uninterested, so I stopped reading them for a while. Just lately, however, I've been finding my way back to a few of them. One that I was able to read very quickly was Lauren Scheuer's lightweight but still very enjoyable title Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens.

This is another book that I think I found while reading about the New Domesticity, and the current hot hobby of keeping chickens in one's yard.* Mercifully, this wasn't any sort of "back to the land," "gonna grow all my own food" type memoir. I really hate most of those.** This was just a nice story of how one woman faced her coming empty nest (her daughter Sarah was a teenager and wasn't around their home or yard as much) by getting a few new tenants, namely actual chickens, in the nest and coop that she wanted to build for them.

What follows is a very nice, actually borderline touching story of how much the author got to know and love her chickens. It includes numerous illustrations and pictures, and along the way you'll actually learn a little something about chickens as animals (like how eggs are actually produced). And this:

"All birds molt. It's a natural occurrence. Feathers are astoundingly durable, but they do require replacement from time to time. All chickens have their own molting style. Some drop a feather here and there, and it's hardly noticeable. Other hens opt for the speed molt. One day they look voluptuous, and the next day the coop looks like a chicken exploded, feathers absolutely everywhere, and a nearly naked hen cowering in the corner." (p. 176.)

I wish I could show you the picture that goes with that quote; it's pretty cute. And that really sums up the whole book. Not an earth-shatteringly great read, but actually pretty cute. It was a nice fresh read while the winter of 2013-14 just drags on and on and on.

*A few years back when I went to the eye doctor, out of nowhere, she said, "Did you grow up on a farm?" I said, yes, how did you know that? She asked if I'd ever been around chickens, or played near their coop, and I said yes, I did play in an empty building that had been a chicken coop. That's when she explained she saw some scarring on one of my eyes that was the result of being infected by some sort of chicken parasite at some point in my youth. Had I had the scarring in a different place, I would have been blind in that eye. So: no one around here is ever keeping chickens in her yard, thank you very much.

**Having grown up on a farm, and never wanting to go back to a farm, these gung-ho earthy memoirs tend to leave me cold. Do you know how many hours farmers (and other "back to the landers") work? ALL THE TIME. 24/7. Me? I'm not all that fond of working 8/5, to tell you the truth. So, for the most part, you won't catch me reading "I just want to farm and grow my own food and get my hands in dirt" memoirs by choice.