Here’s a little article that amuses me:  How to choose hens for your garden.

Apparently, it’s not unlike selecting what flowers you’re going to plant:

These days, laying comes second to beauty. The more utility, harder-feathered strains lay better, but fluffier birds produce little after their first year. It takes a lot of feeding to maintain that bulk and lay, and the delicious, beige-tinted eggs are only average-sized.

Orpingtons do make great garden poultry. They are lazy and unlikely to roam; areas can easily be fenced from them; they spend hours preening in the sun, but if put to work on an overwintering vegetable bed they will scarify, gobble pests, eat leftovers and liberally manure, leaving soil better and ready for spring planting.

There is little more spectacular than the colour, movement and drama of a flock to liven up a garden, especially during winter.

This brings to mind an old Garrison Keillor routine about a home decoration store selling, among other things,  elderly, sedate cats to spruce up a room’s appearance.  He called them “accent cats”.

I smile at the accent chickens because it happens that Sistah is raising a brood of her own (of what variety I don’t know) up ta Maine.  I asked the Mothe the other day what the neighbors must think of a coop stuck out in the yard, and she replied that in fact it has become quite the fashion amongst the earthy-crunchy set, of which Sistah is a (recycled!) card-carrying member.  Indeed, the Mothe noted that Williams-Sonoma will sell you a de-luxe coop for north of a thousand jimmy o’goblins.   (Not that Sistah has one of these.  Rayther, I believe she’s kicking it old school with tar paper and cheap plywood and second-hand lobstah traps.)

In fact, Sistah’s original idea had been to let her little flock range free.  This idea was shelved when Mr. Bald Eagle started taking an unhealthy (to the chickens, at any rate) interest.  So it was the pen for them after all.  And just as well, because the report now is that Mr. Fox is also trying to figure out a way through the defenses – even in broad daylight.   At this rate, it seems that my nieces may get quite the Hobbesian education.  (Which, in all earnestness, I actually think better than the usual sugar-coated, bubble-wrapped nonsense served up by the current culchah.)