I’ve been hard at work on my latest project, a “magabook” for Bow Tie (the publishers of Hobby Farms, Urban Farm, and the Popular Farming Series) for the past few months, hence the lack of posts on this blog! The book is on chicken breeds and will be out in January or February. I love writing about breeds, and as most of you know horse breeds are my specialty. I think I’ve written about every equine breed in the world, although now and then one pops up that I haven’t heard of. I suppose it’s a natural progression that I write about other animals.
I have to say I really like writing profiles. I suppose it’s because I’m fascinated with history. I write historical novels in my spare time so I guess there is a link there. I love to learn about a breed’s history and how or why it developed. I was talking to Diana Gabaldon last month on her blog and happened to mention the Scots Dumpy, which is a rare Scottish chicken. Diana writes the extremely wonderful and popular Outlander series, which is about a time-traveling nurse from the 1940s who falls in love with a very dishy highlander from the 18th century. So Diana is technically a historical novelist and like all historical novelists loves all the unusual bits and bobs that are peculiar to a certain era. I told her about how the Scots Dumpy, a short legged, squatty little chicken, was a favorite of Scottish crofters, and how they were great “watch birds,” alerting people to danger or strangers. Anyway, Diana was intrigued and said she planned on including the breed in a future story.
I thought I’d share this kooky video with you, found in during research of meat birds. In the 1940s the Atlantic and Pacific (A&P) grocery store chain announced a contest to find the Chicken of Tomorrow, which would be the best meat bird going. I really get a kick out of old videos, especially the ones with that 40s sounding guy whose voice is filled with gravitas. Listen for the part where he says “Say, that makes me hungry.” It’s priceless. I also love the bit where they are comparing the chickens side by side. The guy is sort of poking at the thinner chicken’s leg like “look at this skinny thing, sheesh!”