Ten stories about chickens
1. NADIA LIM AND HER CHICKEN
Nadia Lim, chef of the nation, wrote her first children’s book last year. Marvellous Marvin (illustrated by Fifi Colston, published by Scholastic) is based on a chick that hatched in a muslin-lined cake tin balanced on a pile of books under a house lamp at Lim’s farm in Arrowtown. She told Cherie Howie from the New Zealand Herald that she rescued four eggs that were abandoned outdoors just as snows were approaching, and set up an incubator using a cake tin and lamp. “My husband said I was dreaming but two-and-a-half days later one hatched. It was so exciting.”
2. STEPHEN KING AND THE CHICKENS OF TITIRANGI
A plague of wild chickens terrorised the easily terrorised residents of Titirangi in last year’s lockdown; the news story went viral, and attracted the attention of the great Stephen King. He tweeted to his 6.5 million followers, “The chickens came out of the shadows … WITH A THIRST FOR VENGEANCE.”
3. WENDYL NISSEN AND HER CHICKENS
Hokianga author Wendyl Nissen has featured chickens on the the covers of many of her best-selling books on how to live a chemical-free, organic life. It takes a chicken to raise green consciousness sort of thing. “We have 20 chickens,” she said on Saturday, “which is three less than this morning as I gave them to my neighbour.”
4. THE CHICKEN BIBLE
Poultry expert Sue Clarke’s book How to Care for Your Poultry (Volume 1) is the number-one-selling poultry book in New Zealand. It covers heritage breeds, housing, feeding, health. breeding – and birds for meat. That’s not very caring.
5. HIMALI McINNES AND HER CHICKENS
Dr Himali McInnes is the author of The unexpected patient, a superb new collection of case studies. They include the story a man who recovers from a terrorist attack, a patient with supernatural connections, and, as excerpted at ReadingRoom recently, Māori healing and the death of a little boy. Yeah, intense; at her home in Auckland, she relaxes with her three chickens, Ava (after Gardner), Frida (after Kahlo) and Charlotte the Black Orpington: “She has iridescent black green feathers like a Tui. Soft black eyes. So so beautiful….The sound of a chicken cooing is the most soothing sound, and it always makes me feel peaceful and full of joy.”
6. THE MANY CHICKENS OF JOY COWLEY
Joy Cowley is a 100 per cent, through and through, solid gold literary genius. Also, she likes writing about chickens. Her many children’s books include The Little Yellow Chicken, The Little Yellow Chicken’s House, Chicken Feathers, Duck and Hen, and the unequivocal I Love Chickens. She read from her work at a literary festival in Featherston in May, at a bookshop which really is called Chicken and Frog.
7. KYLE MEWBURN AND HER CHICKENS
Millers Flat author Kyle Mewburn keeps many chickens, all named after songs. They include Dolly, Lola, Delilah, Gerda, and Rosamunda (“quite a few from German songs”), and formerly the sisters Fernando and Chiquitita. “They were literally inseparable for 10 years,” Meburn said, “but Fernando died defending the flock against a feral cat, and Chiquita became the second victim of the feral cat.”
8. BILL MANHIRE AND THE CASE OF THE EGGTRAY
Here is a photo posted by Bill Manhire on Twitter on Saturday, with the observation, “goose among the chickens”.
9. DR EILEEN MERRIMAN AND HER CHICKEN CURRY
What is it about New Zealand doctors, and their need for hens? Dr Eileen Merriman, author of the recently published medical novel Double Helix (number two on the best-seller chart this week; expect to see it at number one on Thursday), tells this story of her chicken Curry: “We inherited her, along with her sisters, Popcorn and Sassy, from friends moving back to California. Sassy died, somewhat ominously, about two hours before level 3 lockdown was announced last August.” What is it with New Zealand writers, and their stories of chickens and death? It begins – of course – with Ronald Hugh Morrieson, below.
10. THE ULTIMATE CHICKEN IN NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE AND MAYBE EVEN WORLD LITERATURE COME TO THINK OF IT
“The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut.”