Sunday, June 24, 2012

HENS AND CHICKS

No! not the 'cluck'-click,' 'peep'-peep,' 'cock-a-doodle-doo type, especially the White Leghorn type. My Dad kept a  few chickens on his gentleman's ranch as we call a 40 acre piece of land for a little farming as a side business or relaxation if you could call working the land - relaxation.
White Rooster painting, possibly White Leghorn
Broderbund ClickArt

He had White Leghorns, including a rooster. The rooster was over protective of his flock, I guess. In fact he was sort of a 'bully' rooster.

For no apparent reason MR BULLY decided Mother needed a good flogging one hot evening in the middle of a gravel driveway, causing her to fall.

She was calmly walking (more like very slowly ambling) the driveway to the gate where Dad was feeding cattle. She passed within about 50 feet of the hen house, but certainly nowhere near it or any hens, much less the rooster. She was no threat to rooster or hen. In fact I cannot remember she ever gathered eggs, because occasionally there were snakes or other varmits robbing nests and reclining  after a good meal of eggs.
Hen and Chick
Broderbund ClickArt

Being heavy she had difficulty in regaining a standing position, even with Dad's help. Of course, she was bruised and somewhat roughed up, but nothing broken.

Chicken Soup
Broderbund ClickArt
MR BIG STUD ROOSTER, who probably had too much male steroids like HMG, was chicken stew the next day. Much to my chagrin, I could not eat it; in fact I gagged trying, as the "clean you plate, remember the starving people in China" ruled our dinner table. I was not accustomed to eating freshly slaughtered chicken, or any other meat from our farm, IF I KNEW. The grocery store was much more impersonal and came in sterile white wrapped packages--no pinfeathers to singe or mess, etc. 
Hens-and-Chicks in Bloom
in Old Rusty Deco Tiller
Being originally a southwesterner from Texas, I have a natural fascination with succulents, albeit the non-thorny varieties. When I moved to north central Arkansas I noticed a number of succulents seemed to thrive, despite sometimes severe winters. Yucca plants lined driveways, property lines, or just among other plants, offering contrast to other plantings.

Several years ago I purchased several varieties of hens-and-chicks at my favorite nursery, Camp's Plants, which has several outlets in my area. It pleased me they thrived with little care, mulitplied, too, and even bloomed in a special sort of way. A big plus is these smallish plants have no thorns,  a feature of some succulents I thoroughly dislike. My yucca leaves can slice a finger.

So this year I planted quite a few more replacing annuals with them, as they also are perennials. There are several web sites about hens-and-chicks. However, just to illustrate the great variety of these plants, I have linked a catalog here. Wikipedia's brief description is here.

Hen Bloom Head & Stem
After Blooming Finishes,
the Hen Rots and Dies,
but Leaves plenty of Chicks
to Become Hens
I have scattered photos of the varieties I have bought around here, but feel sure many others are able to grow here. Next year I may mail order some as I love the deep ruby leaf ones, too. The only name I remember of the varieties I have is Cob Web Buttons. If you check the aforementioned catalog, you will see there is great variety of spider web hens-and-chicks, too.

These little plants are not flashy nor even seen by a passerby who may hone in on roses, redbuds in bloom, my Japanese maples, etc.  Most are planted near our home entrance steps. When blooming, the flowers are tiny, almost like many field flowers.
Bloom Head Before Flower Opens
(+4 diopter added)

An advantage to succulents, thus hens-and-chicks, is they disdain overwatering. None have died on me; some have not thrived in exceedingly dry summers. This year is a bumper year for blooms and chicks propagation. I need larger pots next year.

However, once the hen sends up a stalk and flowers, it then dies. But there is a multitude of chicks who can become hens. One of the best articles on growing hens-and-chicks is here.


PHOTOS: NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed. Most photos in this post are made with camera lens in Macro mode; some had a +4 diopter lens attached to camera telephoto zoom lens.
Cob Web Buttons Hens-and-Chicks

Cob Web Buttons Hens-and-Chicks










Flowering Hens-and-Chicks Stem
[+4 Diopter Added]
(One of my favorites) 

9 comments:

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Your poor Mom! I guess stories like this is where I get my fear of Roosters and hens. lol
I remember being chased by a few myself when I was younger and yes they always ended up in someone's pot.
These flowers are really pretty. I love how you captured their beauty with your camera.
Just wanted to come by and say hello and see how you are.
Love
Maggie

TexWisGirl said...

i have seen these on several blogs, now. and my mother in Wis used to have some, too. you might have convinced me to try growing some here.

Dimple said...

When I was growing up, my grandmother had hens and chicks in clay pots. This was central California, so winter was not a concern. I liked them then, and still do.

I like the results you get with your +4 diopter.

Madison Woods said...

I love succulents too and plan to put some in my gardens here when I get to build them. I like all kinds, even those with thorns, but I may not plant any like that because of the grandkids.

turquoisemoon said...

I always put a chicken (magnet or pot) in my kitchen... I find them scary and will keep people out of the way while cooking. hahaha... Great story and fun pictures. I just bought something to enhance my macros but havent tried it yet. It says +10 on it. I'm supposed to screw it onto my existing lens...Is that a diopter, is that what you're talking about??? Should have kept the package...hmmm, don't know why I do these things to myself. Always hurry up and put things away. My favorite is the last one too, but all are beautiful.

Arkansas Patti said...

What a grand pot of hens and chicks. I too love succulents and need to plant more. Thanks for the reminder.
I know what you mean about fresh killed chicken. I can't get that smell out of my head to eat one.
I was thinking of getting a couple for eggs only.

Sandi McBride said...

I can certainly understand your consternation over "bully stew" because I have the same problem in my life time, just can't eat anything that I knew the face of...love your hens and chicks dispay they are just too beautiful.
hugs
Sandi

Cheryl said...

I couldn't have eaten the stew either! I have some hens and chicks my aunt gave me and they are doing great this summer. My first memory of such plants is of hens and chicks growing near a well at my grandmother's house. I was always fascinated by them.

Hilary said...

The flora is lovely.. such pretty blossoms. I had no idea there were so many kinds of chickens and hens.

As for the real thing, I wouldn't have been able to stomach it either. I spent time on a dairy farm once .. DAIRY and I couldn't eat the steak which was served up on my plate. It made me gag to hear the sisters mooing outside.