I’ve been reading about chickens. And chicken poop.
Kelly Chripczuk, her husband John, and their four children have chickens – about 18 in fact. They started with four or five and then expanded their chicken empire with another dozen or so, with the thought that they could make money selling eggs.
They have sold some eggs. The ones they haven’t sold are piling up in the refrigerator.
But the chickens have taught them about life. And Kelly has written down what they’ve learned and called it Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk & Poultry.
I smiled. I laughed. I watched as chickens with minds of their own went about their business, cackled when laying an egg, hid eggs, escaped into neighbor’s yards, bullied two Polish hens (one of which turns out to be a rooster), and sit calmly in a pine tree.
And these chickens have names, like Bleach-Blonde and America. They strut and preen and argue and scratch around the grass and aren’t terribly impressed when you try to take their eggs.
But Chicken Scratch is about far more than chickens. Chripczuk has four children (including twin boys), assorted pets, neighbors, and a 110-year-old farmhouse in central Pennsylvania. She’s learning from all of them, and sharing what she learns with us.
She even tells a beautiful life lesson from – I didn’t expect it – chicken poop. Seriously.
Chripczuk also has something that fewer writers than you might think have, and that is she truly likes her readers. How do you know? She writes like she’s having a conversation with you over the fence, and she’s embarrassed that her chickens have misbehaved and you both know she’s embarrassed, but you’re so charmed that you decide you don’t care that the errant chicken just trampled your petunias.
And she’s honest with herself, like when she’s mad that the family hasn’t gotten itself together for the school program and it’s going to start soon so she jumps in the van because she will get them there on time and the first thing she does is back into her husband’s pickup truck.
So, yes, Chicken Scratch is indeed about chickens but it is also about life. You don’t need to have your own flock to appreciate and be charmed and moved by the stories Kelly Chripczuk tells.
Top photograph by Kim Newberg via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.