Friday, January 4, 2013

Chicken Tales! ~ The Story of Nancy Luce - (and a GIVEAWAY!)

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by Rebecca Nickols

When I first contemplated the idea of backyard chickens I originally intended that this venture was my little attempt at a more sustainable lifestyle...  My goal was: "grow your own" and not rely on purchasing aged, processed or chemically altered food. Well, I accomplished that goal in a sense. I haven't purchased store-bought eggs in years and I do enjoy the fact that I know where my breakfast comes from (at least the eggs). It's true that the freshest and most organic food is what you raise and grow yourself.

But...  what I hadn't expected was a flock of chickens opening up a whole new world of enjoyment, entertainment and adventures! These endearing "farm animals" each have their own unique personality and odd quirks that together make "flock watching" a part of my daily routine! One of the many things I appreciate about this Community is that we can share with other chicken enthusiasts the stories and photos of our flock. Whether the tales are odd, funny or sad, this group understands how easily a chicken can touch your heart...

Susan Branch wrote a wonderful tribute to a lonely kindhearted woman, Nancy Luce, who when faced with illness, poverty and abuse found joy and comfort within her small flock of hens. Susan graciously allowed me to share this touching story of Nancy's life with our Community...


Nancy Luce ~ by Susan Branch

I would like to introduce you to someone who lived what seemed to be a tiny speck of a life here on Martha’s Vineyard from 1814 to 1890. She did the best she could, against huge odds, which has caught the fancy of generations and has made her a folk hero. Her name was Nancy Luce. 

For years, on my way up-island, I would pass the graveyard where Nancy Luce is buried, and notice the headstone at the back of the cemetery that’s surrounded in fake chickens — all colors, little and big, cement and plastic, in the snow and in the grass, but I never understood why they were there.

One day, in our used bookstore, I found a biography of Nancy Luce, written by Walter Magnes Teller in 1984 (and out of print now), called, "Consider Poor I" and that’s where I learned the story of the chickens in the graveyard. 

Nancy lived most of her life in a dark, lonely world of poverty and illness. She didn't start out that way; when she was young, she was a good horsewoman, rode twenty miles to and from Edgartown, often, and did all the trading for her family. But she became ill in her early twenties. At the time, no one knew what she had, so they couldn't help her. (I have a friend who’s a doctor and he thinks, from looking at her symptoms, she may have had Lyme disease.) Whatever it was, it was debilitating and it lasted the rest of her life.
Just about the time she fell ill, her parents passed away; Nancy was on her own, and prey to avarice of family and neighbors; they tried to steal her home from her; there are minutes from the town meeting at that time showing what they tried to do. She fought them and won; but it left her vulnerable; her enemies didn’t like losing to her; it shamed them; she became the butt of local jokes (schoolboys came by to scare her and make fun of her), leaving her even more isolated than she already was. She lived in her little house, all alone, winter, summer, spring, and fall, in the middle of nowhere (with no electricity, no personal physical strength, no family, and no money). What she had, were chickens, which she needed for the eggs they supplied. And she grew to love them in an extraordinary way. As anyone would in her circumstances. They were all she had.

The other thing Nancy had, but probably wasn't as aware of as I am now, was an indomitable spirit. I don’t think it gave her much comfort at the time, probably made things even worse, but it gives me great comfort to see how she soldiered on, despite the difficulties in her life. She tried not to care what others thought; she loved her chickens, and so when they died, she buried them in real caskets, and spent all her egg money on carved granite headstones for them; she made a little graveyard for them next to her house. This of course made her the object of fun, people would come by to laugh at her, as if she was crazy or something, but she most definitely was not crazy.

Because of her ailments, sounds were disturbing to Nancy, loud noise hurt her, inspiring her “enemies,” as she called them, to serenade her by beating pots and pans at her door. Someone “brought in cow dressing and put it in my entry and shut the door against it.” She tells many stories of neighborly abuse. But despite everything, when she was around forty-six, and with no outside help, she had the courage, and amazing inner reserve, to write, illustrate, and self-publish her own small books; the first was called Poor Little Hearts, a book about her chickens. These books aroused interest from curious tourists who began to beat a path to her door (not everyone was horrible to her, some people were just curious).

Exploiting her own peculiarities, since it was clear people were interested; she tried to pay her way (taxes, wood for the fire) by selling the little books. She also had photographs taken of herself and her chickens (which is saying something for the 1860′s in nowheresville, USA). Others made money on her too; hundreds of picture postcards of her were sold, of which she got not a cent. Because of her own original self, because she followed her heart and did her best, Nancy ended up being the most well-known island person of her time, although there wasn't much comfort in that for her. At the end, at age 75, she fell in her house, alone. It was days before anyone found her; she died shortly after, in poverty, and was buried by the town where she is today– surrounded by chickens left for her by admirers with “good hearts and tender feelings,” Nancy’s preferred type of visitors.
Nancy was a folk artist and poet. She was fanciful and totally charming when naming her chickens (I took pains to spell them as they are written in the biography, these are not typos!): Teeddla Toonna, Lebootie Ticktuzy, Jafy Metreatie, Otte Opheto, and Aterryryree Opacky — to name just a few. When one of her favorite chickens, Ada Queetie, died, Nancy was in terrible mourning and remembering the good times when she wrote:



Poor little Ada Queetie 
She used to do everything I told her, let it be what it would, And knew every word I said to her.

If she was as far off as across the room, And I made signs to her with my fingers, She knew what it was, and would spring quick and do it.

If she was far off, and I only spake her name, She would be sure to run to me at a dreadful swift rate, Without wanting anything to eat.

I used to dream distressing dreams, About what was coming to pass, And awoke making a dreadful noise, And poor little Ada Queetie was making a mournful noise, 
She was so worried for me.


Nancy’s books were hand-written, covers were made from bits of old wallpaper, they were filled with vignettes of her life and loves (her hens). They were how she stood up for herself. Just knowing about such courage reminds me of all the amazing, hard-working, giving, brave, and sometimes lonely people there are in the world.

Recently I was at an Island Fair, one of the people exhibiting was a famous local artist by the name of Dan Waters. He had this WONDERFUL PRINT (printed from a carved block of linoleum on a hand-operated printing press), which, as you can imagine, I snapped up immediately and have hanging in my studio. Whenever I think I have troubles, I just have to look at my wall, see Nancy Luce flying with her chickens, and I feel much better. If she can do what she did, surely, I can do anything!



-Susan Branch
All photos, images and artwork used by permission.


Thank you Susan for sharing this wonderful tribute to Nancy Luce. I know that her story will be honored and understood by this community more than most... We know the benefits of a flock of backyard chickens goes beyond the obvious.--They provide much more than a daily fresh egg; they also give us a daily dose of entertainment, companionship and love!

Susan Branch is the self-taught artist and author of the fourteen (so far) best-selling "Heart of the Home" lifestyle BOOKS all published by Little Brown and Company. From her studio overlooking her picket-fence garden in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Susan writes and paints about the "home arts" of cooking, gardening, sewing, family, best friends, entertaining and the little things that make life sweet. Her books are "homemade" as in, watercolored and completely hand-written.

Please visit the following links to view more of Susan's artwork and writings...
Susan Branch (website-blog-online store)
Susan Branch (facebook)
Susan Branch (twitter)

Now here's the best part!

Susan has offered to send one of our lucky readers a copy of the print of Nancy Luce flying through the air with her beloved chickens by her side! 
Just leave a comment below (and your email address) and in two weeks a winner will be randomly chosen and Susan will send the print your way! Good luck!





Do you have a story, photo, chicken-related tip or  project you'd like to share with our community? Email your photos, stories or links to:

RNickols@communitychickens.com




To view what else is happening at my Southwest Missouri property, visit:  



363 comments:

  1. What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing x

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  2. heather says: this book sounds interesting all animals are wonderful
    hg temp addy at hot mail dot com

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  3. What a sweet, sweet story about Nancy Luce and what a heart she had for her "friends"!

    gamsoldgirl@gmail.com

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  4. Love the block print - I can just picture chickens flying in from all over the Vineyard...

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  5. What an awsome story. Thank you for sharing. nancykittykay@aol.com

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  6. Beautiful and inspiring story! Wish I could've known her. It's so unfortunate that people treated her badly.

    Julie :)
    julie@dunnva.com

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  7. What a touching piece. I would love to someday honor her with a trip to her grave and add a little chicken for her. The print is beautiful and I would love to have it hang in my house as an honor to an amazing woman. mindieandadam@sbcglobal.net

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  8. Such an inspiring story! Sounds like a valiant & caring woman. The print is simly beautiful; I can picture it hanging on my kitchen wall... Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!
    Mets Salazar
    ( rsalazar@knology.net )

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  9. Thank you for sharing this story.
    Amymbicholas@yahoo.com

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  10. Really enjoyed the story and artwork by Susan Branch. Just delightful. Always surprising how awful people can be to those that are different. Lovely to read how she found comfort from her pets. Would love to have the print by Dan Waters of Nancy Luce and her chickens. I love his print. So much detail in such a simple drawing. g_scrapper@yahoo.com

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  11. Such a brave, courageous woman!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Sheila sheil4458@gmail.com

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  12. Such an inspiring story ... thank u for sharing this story . It'so sad ..because even in today's world ... they'er are folks .. like that .. i know a few of them and it's sad .. thank's for sharing ... peace . Raymond Hernandez..

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  13. So touching, it made me cry. God blessed her and gave her enormous strength, fortitude, love and a big heart. Not to mention her sweet dear little friends that filled her home and heart with love, companionship and joy. I have to look her stories, I must know more about her. Thank you

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  14. This touches my heart and soul. Thank you for sharing.

    ~Tracy

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  15. Such a wonderful story! Chickens can touch the lives of people in such extraordinary ways. :)

    Natalie ~ npedward@gmail.com

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  16. What a tragic story and a sweet, fascinating woman. I think I may have to track down a copy of that book.
    harbisgirl@sbcglobal.net

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  17. Lovely story! What joy she would get from our stories if she were alive today!

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  18. The love she could have offered another human when you consider the love she shared with her chickens. If only she was given that chance. Touched my heart and soul. Thank you. wolfaction@aol.com

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  19. Interesting story and lovely tribute. peggydo@charter.net

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  20. what an entertaining story i loved it lbruesch1950@msn.com

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  21. I love this story! Tank you for sharing. I will be sure to share it with my little students when we begin incubating eggs at school. Mdunn80@gmail.com

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  22. What a special lady; a lovely story.

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  23. This was so great! Thanks for sharing and I LOVE the print.

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    1. How interesting. I would love to have this! Thanks for sharing this story.
      Christine

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  24. How interesting! ellenbinder@gmail.com

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  25. This story is wonderful. I never knew I would enjoy chickens more than cats. I must be channeling Nancy.

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    1. oops, my email address is TwoTimesRound@yahoo.com

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    2. I just finished reading this article about Nancy Luce. What an amazing woman she was. I also share her feelings towards chickens since I have 13 of my own and I love them dearly. When I have a bad day or I feel sad or depressed I too go out to my little wonders and they make me feel so much better just watching them do their thing. They each have such personalities! They truly are my joy! Thank you Nancy Luce! sprock_2000@yahoo.com

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  26. Love the print! Thanks for sharing your story! Enjoyed it!

    Debbie
    rusticy@aol.com

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  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  28. Sigh. I'm bad at following directions. I would LOVE to win this delightful print. My email is Immortalight@yahoo.com. Thanks for sharing the story. It choked me up.

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  29. I love the story about Nancy Luce. I totally could understand her love for her birds. When my daughter moved to Texas, one of the first things she did was to start a flock. Every one of my daughter’s chickens has a name a personality and an adventure of their own. Like her rooster "Legs". She changed his name to "Wyatt Earp” after he successfully fought off a coyote when it tried to steal one of his hens. Thank you for sharing your discovery of this special woman like Nancy. I’ll always remember it. I hope to win the print and gift it to my daughter. Thanks Judy
    e-mail jsishall@sbcglobal.net

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  30. A great story, and a lovely piece of art to commemorate a dear soul. I hope when I am old and dying those I have nurtured will come be by my side.

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  31. Love to have this story, we have chickens, ducks, goats, a goose and two dogs. rnkott@centurylink.net

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  32. I love reading stories about people and their animals. It was a wonderful story and I would be honored to win one of her books.
    tinaguerr@yahoo.com

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  33. Makes me think things are not too bad around here. What a wonderful story and I love the print of her. I wish I could have met her.

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  34. Amazing story.I will share this with many, Nancy Luce deserves to be remembered.

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  35. Sad and admirable. bwildebwilde@yahoo.com

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  36. Beautifully written story. Chickens and people seem to be easily mis understood.

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  37. The print is beautiful. What a great prize. The story of Nancy Luce is fascinating and actually, there are a few copies of "Consider Poor I" available on Amazon (I recently got a copy from them). Susan Branch writes and illustrates a wonderful blog It is a gift she leaves in your inbox if you sign up to receive it; her books are a joy. A great story about the artist who did the block print and how Susan Branch found it. Thanks, Janet
    jgonz1011@msn.com

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  38. Thanks for the story and the contest. oldandkranky@gmail.com

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  39. What a great story, brings back memories of my childhood with my grandparents and their egg chickens and my pet rooster.
    Ferrell Andrews
    fandrews30@comcast.net

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  40. A heartwarming story. Thankyou for posting it. We recently acquired a small flock of chickens...mainly for the eggs. I never realized that they could be such a wonderful addition to our family.They help us to connect back to what is real and natural ...in a world that is becoming so technological
    Thanks again
    Margie daystar1952@yahoo.com

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  41. Thanks for such a sad but inspiring story of strength of spirit! Beth

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  42. An incredible story of strength and courage in the face of unimaginable odds. Thank you for sharing it with us. Living on a tiny island, raising chickens, I can relate in some ways and in others feel ever more grateful for my friends. caribemj (at) gmail.com

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  43. What an amazing spirit. Nancy's independence and gumption is a lesson to all of us. How she lived, being content with her condition, and not giving up can be inspiring to us all. Even her creativity was not squelched by poverty. The way she named her little ladies and wrote about them was heart-warming. Thank you for her story. Shirley gypsylady34@yahoo.com

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  44. Nancy Luce sounds like me. i give my chickens some silly names as well.

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  45. I love the print. The story is heart warming and inspiring at the sanme time. I can identify with Nancy Luce in that I love chickens. I love to just sit and watch them in their daily activities. I even had one white brahma chicken that was the best friend to a billy goat once.
    dsloan322@yahoo.com

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  46. What a wonderful way to start a day by reading about such a beautiful person. We all can learn from her, do not let others deter you from being who you are.
    aschmid70@yahoo.com

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  47. What a wonderful story! I feel a "relation" to this woman. I too talk to my chickens and they DO understand! My favorite chicken is Gretchen. Just yesterday there was a chicken being picked on in one of my coops. Talking to them and scolding one chicken in particular, that would not leave the poor girl alone! As she passed by Gretchen, she gave her a little "peck" on the head, as if to say, "You heard Mom"!
    My chickens are the light of my life.
    Thank you for the wonderful Story!

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  48. The life of Nancy shows the hardship that people can cause to one another and explains why we all need to develop compassion for one another so that none need to suffer alone.

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  49. So lovingly and respectfully written, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Susan Branch.

    Chickens saved my life too ... literally.
    But that's another story.

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  50. What a wonderful story about a creative and inspiring woman!
    If only everyone could understand the love from the animal kingdom!
    Thanks~

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  51. Great story. What an inspiration to all of us. I have chickens and can relate to their own personalities.
    Thanks for sharing.
    jbennett@umw.edu

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  52. What a hopeful piece of information that you shared! Thank you. I find it inspiring to read about people with such character and commitment to the real values in life. cyndim56@yahoo.com

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  53. Thank you for sharing. What an amazing life. The print is quite touching.

    jtrknit@gmail.com

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  54. I second all the praise for this great story, along with the photos! I would dearly love to have a copy of Nancy Luce Flying Through the Sky to frame and hang in my family room! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Linda Kuczwanski
    kuczwanski@cox.net

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  55. Tears in my eyes for this poor kindred soul. God's creatures know who loves them and despite what some may say, they love us right back.

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  56. What an inspirational story. Thanks for sharing

    Shoblitz@hotmail.com

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  57. When I was 11 I helped an old woman in town we called her The Antique Lady,she taught me about chickens,ducks,and geese.She lived in a rickety old house and everything she did was for all of her feathered friends,and she had many.Sometimes I would bring other kids with me so they could she how endearing she was and learn about birds.I really wanted people to stop judging and taunting her.She was a true gypsy of love with animals.Now at 59 I have my own small chicken farm.I would not trade my feathered girls for all the $ in the world!I learned from this woman how to communicate on the same vibrational wave as the chickens,so I certainly can related with Dear Nancy and her unconditional love for her girls.Thanks so much for sharing this story.Maria at Veggiepal2@yahoo.com

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  58. I can truly understand Nancy's love and affection for her chickens. I started raising chickens just a few years ago, in my 50's, and have been fascinated with their ways and behavior. Unlike Nancy I am blessed beyond measure with a family who loves me and calls me their "Chicken Grandma" and friends who admire my chicken traits and love my fresh eggs.
    Sweetfudge2@gmail.com

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  59. Nancy's life story is inspiring. Amazing what strength is felt with the power of love. Chickens are awesome!!

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  60. Love this post! Love this story! Thank you for sharing. I think the chicken community is so wonderful. Too bad Nancy Luce did not have such a nice way to connect with fellow chicken lovers.
    Kelley Elliott
    kelleyjoelliott@gmail.com

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  61. There's an untold love that grows between animals and their humans. It hurts every time something happens to one of our animals, but we understand that it's a part of life and we do our best to keep them safe from predators. You don't get a deep relationship with all of your animals, but there are few that capture your heart. Two seasons ago, we lost our favorite turkey hen named Nobless (she had no nob) and to this day, the children think about her often. She would sit down as you approached her and would sit there and let you pet her, kiss her, hug her, or even stroke her wattle. She was more like a family member than a pet...she was one of a kind. We lost her to a fox that year and I think our entire family cried that day.

    Currently, we have a little chicken (approximately 6 months old now) that we've named "jumpy" because she hops a lot and walks a little funny. Still, wherever you are, she is always close by...either at your feet or in your lap. She'll let you pet her and stroke her wattle and beak...she's really great. Perhaps it's Nobless, reincarnated! Regardless, it's these kinds of relationships that bring "richness" to your life...even if you're dirt - poor!

    What a great person Nancy Luce was! She triumphed over many hardships and I bet it was her love of chickens that got her through many of those hard times. I can't tell you how many times I've come home after a hard days work and had a smile brought to my face by our chickens. Personally, I think there's something very theraputic about throwing scratch to them and just spending some quality time with "the birds." We also have guinea fowl, ducks, rabbits, hens, roosters, bees, cats, dogs, parakeets.......and a partridge in a pear tree! Animals are great companions and I totally see where Nancy Luce was coming from...her chickens were her family!

    keyesm@msu.edu

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  62. What a great story! And great chicken names! I'm going to name my next new hen Nancy Luce in her honor.

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  63. Thanks for digging up that Bit of history..Loved it...Even if it made me sad.
    chadpenley@rocketmail.com

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  64. Love the story and the print. My husband and I are moving to the country and I have been begging him for chickens. Thank you for sharing!
    jlbmorgan70@yahoo.com

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  65. Oh, I loved the story of Nancy Luce and her chickens! What a gentle and creative soul she was. I love chickens myself...have ever since I was a girl, and I admire Nancy's spirit and individuality in the face of cruelty from townsfolk. Thank you! Jessica, howells1@bellsouth.net

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  66. What a wonderful story!! I love to read stories about local ordinary people and how they left a special mark on our world. Thank you so much for the great little story today!

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  67. Thank you for such a beautiful story about Nancy Luce. On my farm here in Little Prairie Wisconsin it's not only the people who love our flock of chickens. Our llama Double Espresso was only in his 2nd season as a guard for our flock of sheep when he seriously took up another task. All of my chickens are free range so what a surprise one summer when one of my hen's decided to go broody in the tall grass beside the fence. Rain or shine, dark of night this little henny refused to budge from her nest. I worried that any night marauder, a possum, fox or raccoon would gobble her up. It wasn't until her chicks hatched out and I was walking my dogs along the outside of the fence when I realized how she stayed safe. Double Espresso, upon seeing us escorted all the way along the fence line, nimbly walking amongst the newly hatched clutch of 9 chicks and their mother hen.

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  68. I identify with Nancy Luce in so many ways. What a great story and so inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

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  69. Very inspiring tale, much needed in the cold winter.

    robert_frew@yahoo.com

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  70. Truly a wonderful prize!! I wonder how many other Nancy Luce's there are that people don't know about. Thanks so much for the opportunity to win this lovely print.

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  71. This was a great story, thank you for sharing. What an insiration! mareaser@yahoo.com

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  72. I love reading stories like this.If you are not a chicken lover like I am you can`t fully understand how a chicken can be your pet,and how each one can have its own personality.I have one little silkie her name is Jadee,she was hatched the last few days of her life in an incubator as her mom left this one egg.She had a feather duster for a mom and a very small teddy bear for a companion.Her home was an aquarium when she was not with my husband and I,she loved watching tv with my husband.She is now with her fellow chicken family and has been for a couple years now and has raised many babies and is a very good mother.

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  73. Neat story, thanks for this article!

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  74. I would love to have known Nancy Luce. Her story is not so much about her family of chickens as it is about a strong heart and a will to survive. Thank you for sharing and for the opportunity to win the print which would make a lovely gift for a dear friend of mine who loved her chickens. harrys@cybernet1.com

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  75. Thank you for bringing to light past history of the love of chickens. I would love the print on my wall. Rosered961@yahoo.com

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  76. This is the most amazing story! Nancy Luce was a strong resiliant woman. What she accomplished in her day was no easy thing, she fought for just about everything she had, and at the time, being a woman, she barely had rights at all. But they never broke her spirit, and that's something we can all learn from. It is an honor to her that those who truly knew her took the time to decorate her grave with what she loved most. She wasn't forgotten.

    reneesg@verizon.net

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  77. What an amazing story! People can be so cruel, but she stood firm.

    Emily

    gustfrontfarm AT gmail.com

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  78. This is such a cool story! I'm sure Miss Luce would be proud to know that many people now share her love of chickens.

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  79. What a wonderful heart warming story. No one understands my love for my chickens and I really connected with Nancy Luce. Thank you for sharing!

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  80. What a wonderful heart warming story. No one understands my love for my chickens and I really connected with Nancy Luce. Thank you for sharing!

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  81. This story of Nancy Luce touched my heart and made my eyes well up. People can be so mean. I know she finds peace now in knowing her way was the right way.

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  82. The most interesting people are often the most misunderstood. Great story

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  83. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story.

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  84. Great story, love it! Thanks!

    blair_hayman AT hotmail.com

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  85. I thought this was very inspiring, it makes me want to be a better person, towards everyone.

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  86. What a touching story. So glad that she had her chickens to brighten such a sad and lonely life.

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  87. Thank you for sharing this story of Nancy Luce. The magic of the story is real to all of us who love with our hearts... the place where herstory is so different from history.

    I would love to have the print - thank you for offering it!

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  88. What a wonderful story!
    umkrudwig@yahoo.com

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  89. I Love to watch my 3 girls to it is winter 36 and one by one that are going into molt
    stinkingwater@msn.com

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  90. Since I'm known by most neighbors, friends, and family as the crazy old chicken lady, I can fully understand this story. I am never happier than when I'm with my chickens. I don't feel crazy about this at all. This story is wonderfully inspiring and I thank you so very much for finding and sharing it.

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  91. After reading Nancy's story, I don't feel so bad about being called the crazy chicken lady. Ha! I would love to have that print.























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  92. What a wonderful but sad story. Miss Luce certainly did make the best of her situation. She found her niche and happiness and her lucky chickens had a great home with her.
    Thank you for sharing.
    debbyvenus@hotmail.com

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  93. Beautiful, inspiring story of Nancy Luce. I can identify with her in some ways. While in good health now, I have no children nor nieces nor nephews... I may leave only my cats and chickens to mourn me! ;D

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  95. Loved the story. The print is AMAZING. Such detail and tells of the nature of her surroundings. Truly a piece of Art.

    parkplaceco@juno.com

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  96. I really liked the story. Thank you for sharing.
    martha.james99@yahoo.com

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  97. What a great story, and a lovely print!
    Blessings,
    Catherine

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  98. A story that is repeated daily within this country. There are many animals that are our neighbors only true friends. Something to remember. And perhaps do something about in an individual way.

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  99. I had tears in my eyes for Nance Luce who was a wonderful person if only the relatives/neighbors had been decent enough to have cared.

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  100. Thank you for sharing this story. It is awful how people are so cruel especially when someone is sick and in need of help. It is amazing how God has made animals to respond so wonderfully to those who love them and take time to train them. How nice that she found compassion in her hens. How sad that the humans in her life chose not to have any!
    May we all be inspired to have compassion upon those in our lives who need it!
    Have a wonderful day!
    mrs.marysmith@gmail.com

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  101. Thank You, for sharing Nancy Luce's story. Would really love to win!

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  102. What a sad, inspiring, wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing Nancy Luce with the wider world beyond Martha's Vinyard. I love the print, would love to win it! My girls would love me to have it ;)
    earthsong@bendnet.com

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  103. Interesting that she lived so long despite all of her illness and rotten neighbors. It must have been the chickens for sure that kept her going. I love my little chickens too. Even tho I try not to get too attached to them so I do not feel the pain when they die, I cant help it. They truly do give a person comfort and are so faithful with their egg laying even in the cold of winter. Thank you so much for the lovely story. Maybe you can put them into print for chicken lovers every where.

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  105. I'm going to name my next chicken Nancy Luce! Thanks you for the great story.

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  106. That is such a cool story and I can relate to the bond she had with her chickens.
    phredp@gmail.com

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  107. What a wonderful sweet story. Being somewhat an introvert, I can identify with some of her life. Might be nice to start a small fund to make sure her graveyard and burial site is preserved? Maybe get one of the companies to sponsor it??? tinkabell2@msn.com

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  108. Nancy Luce sounds like a fascinating women.Her story is inspiring can't wait to share the story with the kids today.Thank you,it is true the most interesting people are the ones misunderstood.

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  109. What a cockle warming story for a cold winter morn.

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  110. I too have physical consrictions. There are so many days that getting out to take care of my chickens is what gets me up and going. Once I have taken care of my girls and they have chatted me up for awhile then I always feel better and can get going a little on other things. I understand how important Nancy's chickens could have become to her in such isolated circumstances. They can be loving, entertaining and just all around delightful. :-)

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  111. I live in Durango, Colorado and I raise chickens. I had to fight to get chickens where I live because the area I moved to didn't allow them (but they allowed pigs, horses, cows, etc.) The board President was afraid it would make property values go down. I worked hard to get all my neighbors on board with chickens and finally, at our next HOA meeting, they approved the chickens and even roosters! Since then my chickens have become a popular attraction and many benefit from free eggs and as Nancy Luce discovered, the emotional connection that comes with chickens. Who would think these birds that have ugly feet and eyes would draw such a bonding experience! I moved out to my place in the country after a divorce and am proud to have made it, with lots of help from friends and family. I feel so sad for Nancy Luce, that she lived her life alone. I would have loved to have known her. Thank you for the story, I would love a copy of one of her books and would buy the poster print if there is a place I can purchase it. Thank you. Rita moonranch120@gmail.com

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  112. I got very teary eyed reading this story of this amazing woman. It's so very sad that people treated her so unkindly, but I am happy knowing she found peace with her "girls". susanpagels@comcast.net

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  113. lenan@yahoo.com
    Aww, such a nice story. too bad it depicts the nature of some of we humans in our treatment of those who we see as different. The greatest
    part is that it also shows our great resole to survive the odds and
    create our own community.
    I enjoy my hens also.

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  114. Thank you for sharing that special story. It is a good reminder.
    slverizzi@msn.com

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  115. Poor lady. My grandmother loved her "girls" almost that much.

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  116. What a lovely story about a lovely woman. I think "Nancy" shall be a name reserved for one of my new springtime chicks! smithmarez@hotmail.com

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  117. I loved reading about Nancy Luce- she went on even though I'm sure she felt like giving up. She found a way to help herself. Great story
    love it.

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  118. Obviously, bullying is nothing new. This story broke my heart. I'm for certain that some wonder at my devotion to my girls . . . my loving, fluffy, chatty hens. But to be treated with such cruelty for having a heart that loves . . . . well, now as then, it's so very wrong. The spirit of Nancy Luce lives on in those of us who adore our chickens!

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  119. When I think of the millions (or more?) chickens living out short miserable lives in battery cages in factory farms, this story reminds us that the lowly hens we humans treat so very badly are not so very different from us. They are sociable, they have feelings, feel pain and love. We are truly one in the Earth. Thank you for this story. I will remember it always.

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  120. I don't normally have the time to read articles word for word in the "Community Chickens" but this one caught my attention. A very interesting piece of how animals either feather or fur can be our loyal companions when people often judge by appearance only. As a country girl I have always had a small flock of chickens as my great-grandmother before me who raised several hundred. As a small girl my favorite memories are of those visits to her chicken ranch. As a graphic designer I appreciate design and craftmanship of the print of Nancy Luce and it would hang in my office as a inspirational piece. Thank you Susan for a very interesting article. Julie yourstrulyby_julie@hotmail.com

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  121. I am constantly expressing my surprise to my wife at the inspiration and enjoyment her chickens have brought us over this last year. Who knew?!

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  122. Chick a dee da! Another good story!

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  123. Oh I too, feel for her, loving her chickens who treated her so much more kindly than her neighbors. We can all take comfort that surely she was well received in heaven.
    katydid1952@hotmail.com

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  124. I just love the Nancy Luce story. My granddaughter is so involved with her chickens with names, only 7 chickens, but is dearly loved. I would love to be able to give her this print as a gift for her loving care she gives to her chicks. I can appreciate Nancy's caring heart, when after all her chickens were all she had. Thank God for people like Nancy!
    sissypjl@aol.com

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  125. love the story. I can relate to her . A lot like me. evp@comcast.net

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  126. Thank you for sharing this ladies story. Its so sad that people were so mean to her but I do understand the love she had for her chickens. I feel the same way about mine and enjoy them. They give me a lot of happiness when I miss my lady friends from down state.lemarje@aol.com

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  127. What a courageous woman! I would love to see her actual books and photographs!
    I can identify with Nancy Luce especially because of my personal battle with fibromyalgia. My primary physician was about to put me on disability when we bought our little farm and a flock of chickens. I was determined not to surrender my life to a disease so I fought back. It took some pretty creative talking to get my husband to agree to this venture in our 40's because of my health issues but he finally caved in. (If Mamma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!)
    Now we’ve been on our farm about 18 mos. and my physician is thrilled with my progress. He says, "This is as close to a cure for fibromyalgia as I have ever seen." I credit my chickens and other farm animals for my astonishing progress. Animals still need care even if "you don't feel like it". I can’t beg off feeding the animals because it was a long day at the office. I have to make the walk around the coops twice a day, lift weights, and keep going even when it's “not one of my better days”.
    My husband laughs every time I lead a parade of doting hens behind me as I walk back to the farm house. It’s like my chickens are as reluctant as I am to say goodbye. Our only regret now is all that wasted time before we finally moved to the farm. I wouldn’t trade this new life for anything!

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  128. What a great story . Ia m not a stranger to people laughing and talking about me in regards to my pet chickens these chickens and this hobby saved my life .When I found these chickens came into my life they opened up a whole new world . They are the sweestest animals I have ever had as pets .People ask why and I say why not they will change your life

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  129. This is one huge reason to teach your kids respect for others. Especially others that may have problems. So many people could have lent a hand and made this woman's life easier. Thank you for telling her story. It is a reminder of the great spirit people have when they are low.

    Suzanne

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  130. What a wonderful heartwarming story!
    Thank you.
    Debbiesezhi@gmail.com

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  132. I loved the story of Nancy Luce. My chickens are special to me and I can understand the comfort that Nancy drew from her chickens. A beautiful linoleum cut too!
    donna@mcculloughstudio.com

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  133. This story made me cry. I know what the loss of a pet means. I have lost a few of my chickens and it hurts everytime. She was a strong amazing woman. Chickens show amazing compassion we could all learn from that.

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  134. A fascinating story of a very courageous woman! Love the folk motif!
    leindoris@aol.com

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  135. What an amazing woman! She is still treasured and remembered while all the mean ones weren't! sheepblacksheepfarm@gmail.com

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  136. Loved the story. Gary Bott bottgary@gmail.com

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  137. I enjoyed reading about Nancy and think she is a great role model. I would love to have a print of her to remind me to be greatful for all the blessings in my life. Lisay13142@AOL.com

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  138. Thanks for sharing this story! I feel sad for Nancy Luce, but happy that she had the love and joy that a flock can add to one's life. I understand that completely. My "Girls" bring me happiness even on the darkest days, too. paulaj@frontier.com
    P.S. SOMEBODY must have loved her very much to have put that headstone up for her. I like to think so anyway...

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  139. Rebecca Definitely a tale to warm up a cold winter's day. Maybe the many responses to the story are an indication that at least some things have gotten better in the last 150 years: Were Nancy Luce alive today, she would undoubtedly have many like-minded friends. And lovingly captured in the charming print. Thank you for posting.
    rupicaprids@yahoo.com

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  140. what a cool story. I love it. Seawitch@cox.net

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  141. I loved this story, it touched my heart, any animal lover could relate to how important pets become in our lives. The comfort, love and emotional support they give unconditionally is priceless.
    joannee@sbcglobal.net

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  142. What a wonderful story of perseverance and the greed of humanity.
    I think everyone, with or without chickens, needs to read this story!
    Maybe it would make some people stop and think before they do things.
    lisa@vetteklisa.com

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  143. Thank you Susan for writing, and Rebecca for sharing a bit of Nancy Luce's story. I wonder if the descendants of her tormentors realize the harm their families bestowed upon her. How much more could Nancy have accomplished had one person choose to help her? It is a real shame there were no charitable people in her community. Perhaps Dan Waters would be willing to make many prints that the profits would serve to reprint Nancy's book(s) for all of us to enjoy?

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  144. What a sad, yet inspiring story. So glad she had her chickens for comfort and companionship. Ohhhh... and what an amazing print!

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  145. What an absolutely charming and lovely story. Excellent reminder that those we see as 'weird or different' are just that...different from us. Not wrong or evil, etc...just different. You know that different drummer? He's my buddy ;)

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  146. Very sweet story for all of us who love chickens and animals. What courage. It puts life into perspective. -- chrysalisbutterfly@att.net

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  147. I can so relate to Miss Luce. I love my girls with all my heart. Who could have imagined that they could bring such pleasure and enjoyment into your would? My life would have an empty hole without them!

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  148. Mesmerizing story and beautiful print. Both inspiring...

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  149. Jane Sutton jsutton2@earthlink.netJanuary 8, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    I will have a first-time chicken family by spring and - as a person with MS - when I hear of Nancy's symptoms, I can't help but wonder if she may have had MS. I hope that my chickens will keep me going as long as Nancy's kept her going - who knows, maybe even longer. Thank you for sharing her touching story and the beautiful art that speaks volumes!
    Blessings,
    Jane

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  150. Love the story about Nancy Luce...the tears are still flowing for her plight. I understand her affection for her hens. Mine come running every time I walk about the back door. lesfraiserie@aol.com

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  151. That is a very interesting story. Love the print! gia.lamela@gmail.com

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  152. Loved the story. Chickens have taught me how to relax. I am a very anxious person, but sitting with my flock of chickens and watching their antics is the most relaxing activity for me. Having spent the last 6 years going through one knee surgery after another...my chickens have kept me sane and occupied. Coming up on two more surgeries in Feb. but I know the chickens will help me through it as per usual. Thanks again for relating this touching story. ctbagley@gmail.com

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  153. Great story. I have walked by her grave many times, but never knew the story, or that years later, I too would be a bit loopy over a yard full of hens, or name a rooster. Thanks. makingupstories@aol.com

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  154. swflyer
    Like many of the other readers of the article regarding Nancy Luce, I was amazed by her fortitude and of the inner strength it took for her to live her life. In spite of the social abuse and ridicule she suffered during the course of her life, she endured. Imagining her life and the time she lived might be difficult to picture nowadays, as Nancy Luce lived long ago, and in a different world. However, the bullying and the abuse she overcame, with a kind heart and an iron will, she kept to the care of chickens against all odds... and without bitteness. I think now, that whenever I encounter times in the future, which I might find otherwise to be hard or to be challenging moments of despair, I will think of Nancy Luce... of the life she lived... undaunted and full... and that I should be able to do no less.

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  155. What a sad yet inspiring story of Nancy Luce! God gave her her chickens when she had nothing else and she was able to survive such difficult circumstances. BLESS HER!

    nana.wood@gmail.com

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  157. Thank you for introducing us to a strong, independent woman so ahead of her time. Her kindness to her hens shows that she was a loving and kind person who was totally misunderstood by her neighbors and townspeople. How quick we are to judge and gang up on those who are different from ourselves. If just one person reads her story and resolves to begin a life of non-judgment and acceptance of others, Nancy Luce will live on.

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    1. Zhezahn's email is bmesmer@gmail.com

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  158. My girls bring me a lot of pleasure, in fact, my poor husband wishes they didn't since I'm now up to 26 of them. I didn't realize how much pleasure they could bring the lonely though until recently. My 94 grandmother came to live with us almost two years ago. In spite of living in a house full of people, she was a lonely woman. She loved watching the chickens from her bedroom window. During her stay with us, I "adopted" a chicken from a fellow parishioner - this chicken had fallen off a truck on her way to a processing plant and had been rescued. This chicken was very obviously a meat-bird, and we struggled about what the most humane thing to do would be. The kids named her "Soup." Soup was segregated from the flock for obvious reasons, but to our surprise, a few weeks after arriving, she started laying eggs - huge brown eggs. We called them "eggs of gratitude" We integrated her into the flock. Grandma was very interested in Soup and was always looking for her waddling around the yard (she was a huge bird). One day, Grandma, announced that she had renamed Soup, her name was now Polly. That was Grandma's nickname as a child. She said that Polly was just like her, lonely. None of the other chickens played with her, she just had to wander the yard and entertain herself. Grandma has left us, but Polly is still around. Every time I watch her waddling around, it's true, Polly is the loneliest chicken (but not bottom of the pecking order) in the flock - a tribute to my Grandma. I would love to have the print to hang in Grandma's old bedroom, it would be a fitting tribute to her. cathrynparsons@yahoo.com

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  159. What a wonderful story to inspire us all! Thanks to Susan Branch for letting us know Nancy's story, and to you, Rebecca, too.

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  160. This gave me a case of the sniffles this morning...what an inspiring woman! nan.mclellan@gmail.com

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  161. very inspiring, sometimes I feel just like Nancy.

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  162. Loved the story of Nancy Luce and I'd love to have a copy of the print. There are so many of us who would love to have one of these. Since only one of us will win one please could you make it available for purchase? I am pretty sure many of us are interested.

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  163. Reminds me a bit of "The Goat Lady". What a spirit.
    knefla@aol.com

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  164. A true pioneer spirit!
    kelrox@me.com

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  165. What a touching and sad story. I am going to remember her the next time I feel like life has "got it in for me". To be completely alone and with very few resources, and to still find happiness....it's humbling. Now, to get some chickens for my own little backyard paradise!

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  166. I miss my chickens. My last one (and favorite) died one year ago on New Year's Eve. RIP Belle. RIP Nancy Luce.

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  167. Such a beautiful story - but very sad. What a great way to keep Nancy Luce's memory alive - I love the print!
    eliza.tyndall@lottery.state.co.us

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  168. Thank you for sharing the story of Nancy Luce. It's sad that people have not learned over the years how to be more neighborly and less cruel. Maybe if more lonely people kept chickens, we wouldn't have these awful shootings! My chooks have got me through some very difficult times over this year. They follow me when I walk my dog (a boxer/pitt mix)running back and forth between our legs, they come running when called, and heaven forbid I try to sit on the lawn and read- ha! lap chickens!!! I love them! I would treasure a print of Nancy Luce. I too have a life time illness that if I let it, could really get me down. If I won it, I would put that print in such a prominent place, that I would be reminded daily that if Nancy could manage, then so can I,and she had NO electricity!

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  169. What a wonderful story!
    Thanks for letting us in on this beautiful secret. . .

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  170. What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing...looking forward to many more!

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  171. Love, love, love this story. People make fun of me for naming my chickens. I simply don't care. They are my friends and I love them.
    Peace & Love
    Vonda

    vondalea@yahoo.com

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  172. What a very interesting story! I had to share the link on our farm FB page. I love the print! lilyplasse@gmail.com

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  173. Thank you for sharing this touching story. My 100 birds all have names & I have great love for them all.

    There is another interesting 'chicken lady' from Bainbridge Island-- Minnie Rose Lovgreen, who wrote 'The Recipe for Raising Chickens'. She is also inspiring & makes me proud to be a 'chicken lady' myself.

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  174. Ohio Country Mouse here, Reading about Lucy made me remember my Granmaw and all the stories my Mom told me about how her Mom loved her chickens and had 3 chicken even to the day she past at 86
    Blessings pauldebikramer@yahoo.com

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  175. That was an absolutely beautiful story about an amazing women. Hearing of her struggles and the way her neighbors treated her, brought tears to my eyes, but hearing her love of her chickens, and the comfort and joy they brought to her, brought a smile to my face.

    phall0106@yahoo.com

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  176. What a touching tale. I would love to have a copy of this print.

    sauercoleman@gmail.com

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  177. What and interesting story.
    dsweeney@hotmail.com

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  178. What a wonderful story. She is such an inspiration.
    Vicki


    appleanne22@aol.com

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  179. A very heartwarming tale. She loved and was loved by her flock even though the people around her were cruel. It makes me proud to be a Nancy.

    scottyk@shawneelink.net

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  180. Enchanting and heart breaking all at once. This combination makes teh best stories.
    Anna
    fatdogfarm@sbcglobal.net

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  181. What a sad story, how brave she was in that era of time!

    Drmspirit@aol.com

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  182. Fantastic story and folklore - thank you so much for sharing this piece of "chicken lore" with us! thehavenmaven@gmail.com

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  183. My grandmother swore by keeping those fighting chicken hens, and used them to raise baby chicks on her farm. I didn't realize why until I was at her house and saw a hawk fly down and grab a chick. The hen jumped on the hawk's back and fought him for about 200 ft. He had by then already dropped the dead baby, but she didn't stop the pecking on his head and screaming and clawing until he turned sideways and dumped her off.

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  184. I'm in awe of this woman. What fortunate chickens to have been under her care. aknoppel@gmail.com

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  185. Such a heart-rending story; so thankful Nancy had her little feathered angels to minister to her. I would love the print!

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  186. Chickens are fascinating. I have a small flock and intend to get more in the spring. Right now, only the Roosters have names: Pretty Boy and Lost Boy. The poster is amazing. I do block prints myself and never tried anything that detailed!

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  187. Sad but inspiring...
    girlscoutleader@yahoo.com

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  188. Sad, amazing and inspiring. I love the print. loveroses2008 at yahoo dot com

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  189. Inspiring story. I will think of Nancy Luce every time I look at my beautiful girls.
    heidi@midrox.com

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  190. As I sit here in hospital lounge in week three of watching over my husband in ICU, Nancy's story humbled me. To imagine of what her life was like all those years is beyond me. I just want to reach out over time and give her a hug. So glad she had her hens to give her company. mjbeedles@gmail.com

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  191. Thank you so much for stopping at the bookstore that day! This bio really tells it like it is with a flock of chickens, or even just two or three. I've had chickens almost all my life and would go sit with them as much as I could whenever my day just didn't seem "quite right". It's hard to explain to others the feelings of "sitting with chickens" if they have never done it. Thank you, thank you.

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  192. What a motivational story, I had never heard of Nancy Luce before today.
    I would love to read more of her writings, her description of how her hen would listen and come reminded me so much of my own special hen, Cookie, who is sadly no longer with us.
    Reading this made me tear up, she was a remarkable woman!
    My email is CornsilkDreamer@gmail.com

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  193. This is a sweet and inspiring story. I am new at caring for my 4 girls but I can already see how attached I have become to the ladies who ask so little but give so much. sharon.mcavoy@gmail.com
    Sharon

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