People who love great food appreciate the rich, lovely taste of fresh, farm-raised eggs. And more and more are willing to raise chickens to ensure they have an ample supply. But where to start? That’s where the charmingly classic book, Minnie Rose Lovgreen’s Recipe for Raising Chickens (NW Trillium Press, 2009) comes in. This slim little book, hand-lettered by editor Nancy Rekow, captures the wit and wisdom of the late Northwest farmer and chicken guru Minnie Rose Lovgreen.
The story of Minnie Rose, who passed away in 1975, is nearly as charming as the book. In 1920, Minnie Rose moved to Bainbridge Island (near Seattle, Washington) where she met Danish-born Leo Lovgreen, had a family, and began raising lots and lots of chickens on a 170-acre farm. She learned as she went, and, after 50 years of raising chickens, she’d become a true chicken expert.
Minnie Rose always wanted to put her practical and common-sense chicken wisdom into a book, but she was too busy raising kids and chickens and being a farmer. Then, in 1974, at age 86, she was diagnosed with cancer. Her friend and editor Nancy Rekow showed up at the hospital with a tape recorder. The result is Minnie Rose Lovegreen’s Recipe for Raising Chickens and it reads like delightful conversation with the old girl herself.
Minnie Rose’s book is divided into six short chapters – the broody hen and her eggs; baby chick care; hen and chicks; room and board for chickens; eggs; and the virtues of the bantam hen. The chapters are easy-to-read and chock full of practical advice. “For food, give them baby chick starter mash if you have it. And there’s baby small cracked grain, chick scratch it’s called. If you don’t have those on hand, give them rolled oats or Oaker Oats and chopped hard-cooked egg.” “As soon as all the chicks are hatched, you should move the hen and her chicks to a private sheltered place for protection.” “I put the chicks in a box and pin part of a wool sweater or sock over the box with clothespins, letting it touch their backs, but so they can still get air. The sweater feels like the warm mother sitting on them.”
And Minnie Rose goes on, imparting her wisdom, telling stories about chickens, giving readers a tiny window into her life. Whether you want to raise chickens or not, reading Minnie Rose Lovgreen’s Recipe for Raising Chickens feels like sitting in her big farmhouse kitchen, sharing a cup of warm tea. Like Minnie Rose says, the most important thing with chickens and in life is “to keep them happy.” This book will make you happy or at least put a smile on your face. — BH