We recently received a copy of Literary Chickens by Beth Moon and wanted to share a few excerpts with our chicken community.
This table read includes several iconic quotes paired with Beth’s beautifully photographed chickens. These striking portraits illustrate a sophistication in poultry that often goes unnoticed.
Dr. Jane Goodall gave the book her endorsement and offered two stories of her family chickens. Enjoy one of the stories below.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
–Lord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty” (1815)
I’ve done my best to see you as you are, without any of this damned romantic nonsense. That was why I asked you here, and it’s increased my folly. When you’re gone I shall look out of that window and think of you. I shall waste the whole evening thinking of you. I shall waste my whole life, I believe.
–Virginia Woolf, Night and Day (1919)
Afterword by Jane Goodall
Excerpted from Literary Chickens, Abbeville Press, 2018
Recently my sister Judy rescued six chickens whose usefulness in a factory farm was over. They were to be sold for soup or ground up for animal feed. They arrived almost featherless, and did not know what to do when allowed outside. But within a few days they started to explore, scratching about in the grass with those strong legs and feet, clucking, chasing insects—and each other. For very soon their individual personalities became clear, and they established a definite “pecking order” with Annabelle at the top of the hierarchy and Ethel at the bottom. Poor Ethel—I would not care to be a subordinate hen!
At first they were given the run of the whole garden, but they ate all the bulbs and vegetables, and so a large area was fenced off for them. Their feathers grew back, and they laid many eggs—but for the first two weeks we were told not to eat them, for they would still be contaminated with chemicals and antibiotics. Judy’s hens lived a life of luxury, with the best chicken food and many treats in addition to the worms and snails they found for themselves.
And they taught Judy’s two little grandsons what they needed to know: that animals have personalities, can think things out, and can feel contentment, depression, and fear.
From Literary Chickens by Beth Moon, Abbeville Press, 2018