Category Archives: Poultry

Knight of the Realm

Buff Orpington“Chickens bond with each other, just as people do.”


While feeding the chickens, I enter a separate pen to check on the baby cockerels. They’re big boys, now—not babies. Each day I study them closely, mentally measuring their bulk against the openings in the chain-link of the main chicken coop.

I grab the closest guy. “Are you too big to slip through the mesh? I’d hate to lose you.”

We exit the small pen together, and the gate closes behind me. Then I put him on the ground inside the main coop.

The cockerel immediately tries to get back into the enclosure with his brothers, pacing back and forth testing the wire fence. His siblings do the same dance on the other side, trying to get to him. They want to be together. Continue reading Knight of the Realm

Star-Crossed Family (2 ½ weeks) The Cycle of Life

Embrace of the mesquiteOne dozen chicks, 18-days old, peck around the pen with their mother. They thrive, safe and healthy, beneath the leaning embrace of a mesquite tree in the corner of my vegetable garden.

The hen busies herself with her brood, barely noticing that her star-crossed mate has met with tragedy. As the chicks grow and become independent, she will miss the bantam rooster that walked beside her only weeks ago—and I will, too.

As I watch the babies argue over mashed grain, three other chickens sneak behind the back garden fence. These adolescent birds were from an earlier hatch. I’m not surprised when one raises his head and screeches—a pitiful first attempt at the art of crowing, which takes time to master.

It reminds me that the cycle of life continues.

Adolescent Chickens

The Star-Crossed Chicken Family (Day 3)

Protective mother Tragedy

a true story

My presence makes the little bantam hen nervous. She hides a dozen new babies behind her body as I try to take a picture.

Such a good mother!

The chicks chirp excitedly when I scatter mashed grain into the pen. Then I sit down in a lawn chair to rest and watch them eat.

A noise startles me, so I look up. Continue reading The Star-Crossed Chicken Family (Day 3)

Star-Crossed Chicken Family (Day 2)

Star-Crossed FamilyYesterday, our bantam hen hatched a clutch of eggs.

Since she had free-range of the property, I moved her and her chicks into a small pen to protect the tiny babies from the cats. The rooster seemed lost without his star-crossed mate and the much-anticipated offspring.

This morning he is missing, and I’m concerned. Continue reading Star-Crossed Chicken Family (Day 2)

Star-Crossed Lovers

MotherHenDay1_032515a As I feed the animals each morning, I check on a mother hen that’s setting a clutch of eggs. This small mixed bantam and her handsome rooster have free range of my property. They’re so cute walking around like a matched pair of fluffy socks.

Three weeks ago, though, the lady stopped strutting with her mate. She wasn’t difficult to find because the male stood guard over her like a sentry. He pecked and scratched at the ground in search of food but remained within sight of the female. These two star-crossed lovers were a family.

The hen had wedged herself between two closely spaced chain-link fences. There she stayed silent and still—beneath the watchful eyes of the rooster. Continue reading Star-Crossed Lovers

“Look…baby chicks!”

Mother and chicksI must have talked to about 800 children today at a fair at Garden Lakes Elementary School in Avondale. All of their faces beamed with joy at the fluffy bundles in the cage.

I told them the story, “A mother hen laid one egg each day until the nest was full. Then she just sat on them for three weeks. The weather was very cold, but she didn’t move. Finally the babies hatched! But the nights were still cold. So the hen gathered them under her feathered arms and snuggled them all night.”

“Where is the mom?” they wanted to know. Continue reading “Look…baby chicks!”

Gnome’s Heirloom Garden enters a new year with some surprises!

Harvested with stemsBeing a brand-new website, I expected the readership of GHG to be almost exclusively local. What a wonderful surprise this morning when I receive the 2014 site summary from documenting the countries of origin for the site’s audience.

That’s 48 countries in all!
Most visitors came from The United States. Brazil & Italy were not far behind.

Wow! Thank you all for joining my family (and Gnome) in our humble Arizona garden. Of course, the real star is our rare onion friend, the Tohono O’odham I’itoi. It is he who drew the most visitors-and that’s exactly how it should be.

Read more about Tohono O’odham I’itoi multiplying onions.