I am married to a nice girl who has developed an alarming talent for urban farming in the past few years. First came the preserving of the fat red plums that came off the plum tree that came with the house, mainly to stop them from plopping onto the car and straining themselves through that little grill into the engine and ruining everything. Nadja turned them into a spicy barbecue sauce that made me want to go back on 21 years of vegetarian living just so I could taste it on pork.

Next was the vegetable garden. Turns out we are in the optimal 6-foot radius for tomato growing in our part of town, or else my girl just has a greener thumb than your girl. Friends and neighbors complain that they can’t get their tomatoes to flourish. Not us. We have to sneak sacks of Sungolds onto people’s decks after dark. We have so many jars of tomatoes in various preserved applications that they’re sitting out on the counters because there’s no more room in the pantry. Then came kale, cucumbers, and one memorable pumpkin that sat on the dining table without rotting from September to May.

And then came the chickens.

They started as 4 balls of fluff who lived in the bathtub all spring. When Eleanor, Dorothy, Minerva, and Barbarella moved into their deluxe new Nadja-built hen palace outside, we discovered a happy symbiosis whereby they would eat our bolted lettuce and buggy strawberries. Barbarella would wait until everyone else was finished with their treats before going in for the leftovers, but other than that, there was rarely disharmony among the ladies. I have learned that they don’t call it “pecking order” for nothing.


This morning the first egg was laid.

It was by Eleanor, the clear choice for head chicken ever since bathtub fluffball days. She had been faking us out with a lot of loud talk and lolling about in the nest box all week. That’s her on the top left.

Let me say that Nadja has woken me up 3 times in 9+ years of living together. Once with the horrible news that a neighbor had been shot and killed. Once when Osama bin Laden was caught. And once this morning, when Eleanor laid an egg. That should give you some perspective on just how big a day this is.

What’s next, you ask? I hardly even need to tell you that my girl has been sitting up nights reading Beekeeping for Dummies.