There is even a Backyard Chicken group.
Urban chickens used to be prohibited, a chore undertaken only by down-and-out hillbillies or extreme practitioners of sustainable living. Ten years ago, we were astonished when we bicycled past a run-down house with a dozen chickens in the front yard. They also had a disheveled pony.
It has always been a dream of mine: living in the country, with my flock of chickens and a pony named Midnight, like the one my grandparents used to have. But I’m a a city girl, and I am not quite sure I could get up early enough to care for demanding animals.
But urban chickens are fashionable, and you see them all over these days. They run free and you get organic eggs! Anybody can raise an urban chicken!
So here is a list of chicken lit, or do I mean Chicken Little?
1. Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I (1945), the best-selling humorous memoir of MacDonald’s experiences as a young wife on a chicken farm in the Pacific Northwest. Raising chickens is hard work, and also hilarious. She wrote,
Gathering eggs would be like one continual Ester morning if the hens would just be obliging and get off the nests. Ccooperation, however, is not a chickenly characteristic and so at egg-gathering time every nest was overflowing with hen, feet planted, and a shout-if-you-must-this-old-grayhead look in her eye. I made all manner of futile attempts to dislodge her–sharp sticks, flapping apron, loud scary noises, lure of mash and grain–but she would merely set her mouth, clutch her eggs under her and dare me. In a way, I can’t blame the hen–after all, soft-shelled or not, they’re her kids.
2. Chanticleer and the Fox, adapted from the Canterbury Tales and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, who won the Caldecott Medal. My aunt gave me this book when I was perhaps a little old for it, but I loved the illustrations.
3.The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr., won the American Book Award in 1978. This adult fantasy novel is another retelling of the Chaunticleer and the Fox from Chaucer’s “the Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” Wangerin is an outstanding writer, and one of these days I’ll post more about this novel. I am very fond of the character, Chaunticleer, who has a big flock of chickens to take care of and does a lot of crowing in all moods. It’s his job.
Chaunticleer the Rooster crowed when he was angry to be sure. Upset, or out of humor, he could crow the fear of God into a wood tick or into nearly anything else, for that matter. But no one must get the idea that this was the only time when he crowed, and the only kind of crow he knew. Crowing was his profession.
5. You can read Sherwood Anderson’s short story, “The Egg,” in The Egg and Other Stories (Dover) or at http://www.online-literature.com/sherwood-anderson/1468/
6. Jack Prelutsky’s “Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens”( 1940) is a famous poem: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/last-night-i-dreamed-chickens
7. Mother Carey’s Chickens is a 1911 novel by Kate Douglas Wiggin, the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It is the story of a widow struggling to raise her two daughters and son.
/In the introduction Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated autobiography, Pioneer Girl, it is revealed that she used to raise chickens and was a poultry columnist before she wrote the Little House books. Find out more at this website: http://pioneergirlproject.org/2015/05/21/wilders-chickens/