Lauren Scheuer’s Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens is a very sweet book about owning a small flock of chickens. This isn’t a how to, although anyone thinking of getting chickens is likely to find some useful information in it.
Scheuer really captures the personalities of the six chickens featured in her book. It helps that she is an illustrator who draws absolutely adorable pictures of her chickens and her family, often putting cute little drawings into photos.
Scheuer lives in
with her husband and daughter. In addition to being an illustrator, she is
handy with a tool. She envies her friend Patricia: “In her yard, children
frolic, sheep graze, and colorful chickens drift in and out of her garden. In
Patricia’s yard, the sun shines brighter and the grass is always greener.” (p.
5) Scheuer decides to put her skill to use by making a chicken coop and buying
some chicks to use it.
The text is littered with sketches. I particularly enjoyed the many creative designs for her chicken coop, including a Trojan Chicken of sorts and a chicken Taj Mahal. The author has a whimsical way with words that tickled me. She explains her reasoning for picking out the four chicken types: “Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock originated here in the Northeast. They would know how to handle the harsh winters. My Black Australorp would glimmer in the sunshine like an iridescent beetle. And the Buff Orpington? Well, I just wanted a reason to say ‘Buff Orpington’ every day. Buff Orpington, Buff Orpington, Buff Orpington.” (p. 13)
Scheuer accidentally received a “production breed” chicken instead of her Rhode Island Red. This is a hybrid chicken designed for maximum efficiency. Hatsy lived a short but wonderful life, a dynamo of activity who was the leader of her flock in addition to the top egg producer. It made me sad to think about the horrible lives of factory chickens (although Scheuer does not write about that).
Once Upon a Flock is a quick and delightful read. If you enjoy animal stories, Once Upon a Flock will put a smile on your face.
Once Upon a Flock can be found at the Galesburg Public Library at NFIC 636.5 SCH. If it is not on the shelf, ask Reference staff to put you on hold for it. The library's Tuesday/Thursday book discussion groups will be discussing it at 1:00 pm on July 8 at the library and at 6:30 pm on July 10 at the Beanhive Coffeehouse..