A Memory of Chicks

Kathleen (aka Kathy) Valenti here, and I’m pleased as punch to welcome Victoria Gilbert to the roost today. Victoria is the author of the Blue Ridge Library Mystery Series and the Book Lover’s B&B Series, the first book of which releases in a few short days (August 11th, to be exact). To celebrate, Victoria is giving away a hardcover copy of the series’ debut, BOOKED FOR DEATH, to one lucky commenter. (U.S. residents only, please.) 

In the meantime, Victoria shares her experiences with chicks (one of our favorite topics). along with some amazing photos of her grandparents, George and Ellen King. Take it away, Victoria!

UPDATE: Hestia Athena has won the giveaway! Congrats, Hestia!!

Since I admire all the authors associated with the Chicks on the Case! blog, I’m honored to have the opportunity post as a guest.  It’s certainly great to have a chance talk to all the readers who follow this blog.

Just for fun, I thought I’d tie my post to the name of the blog. The truth is, the word “chicks” always reminds me of my childhood, growing up “across the field” from my grandparents’ small family farm. Although I’ve lived many other places in my life, including New York City, my early life has definitely influenced my writing. Perhaps it’s one reason I ended up writing cozy mysteries. My decades of experience living in small towns and rural areas definitely fits with the genre.

But, back to the chicks! I have several warm and amusing memories related to chickens. My grandmother had a large flock, so there were often adorable baby chicks scampering around on the farm. Sometimes my older brother and I tried to play with them, much to the dismay of the hens. They’d let us know, in no uncertain terms, that we’d better skedaddle on out of the poultry yard. (If you’ve ever dealt with an angry chicken flying at you, wings flapping, ready to peck your eyes out, you know we ran pretty fast!)

Grandmother King in the 1920s

Another story from my childhood demonstrates how much my grandmother loved animals. Although she could handle the more difficult farm chores, like processing animals for food, she had a soft spot for all creatures. It seems that everyone in the area knew this, because strangers would often abandon unwanted kittens, bunnies, and other pets on her front porch, knowing she’d take them in. (And she did). One time someone dropped off two baby chicks who’d been dyed pink and blue—obviously Easter “gifts” that some child had grown tired of. My grandmother raised the chicks, and one became so attached to her that it would perch on her shoulder when she walked around the farm. Of course, the colors disappeared as soon as the chicks got their adult, white, feathers, but that one chick never forgot the person who’d saved her!

I also remember the deft way my grandmother could wield a wooden walking stick to remove recalcitrant hens from their nests. A Jedi master had nothing on her! She’d poke the stick under the hens—without harming them, of course— and toss them up in the air just long enough to grab the unbroken eggs. I can still see those hens wildly flapping their wings while they squawked in protest.

One more memory from that time involves my grandparents reading. They were farmers, neither of whom could afford to attend college, but they were also smart and well-read. They kept many books in their house, some of which I still own today.

Grandma and Grandad King with George

This is one reason why you’ll never see me depict people as uneducated or unintelligent just because they live in rural areas or small towns. There was a great appreciation for education and culture in the area where I grew up, and while many of the residents may not have had university degrees, they possessed a great deal of other learning and skills. This is something I feel strongly about, so whether it is the Blue Ridge Mountains in my Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, or the small coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina, in my Book Lover’s B&B series, I try to depict all the residents with respect. I hope that’s something readers appreciate.

Grandfather King circa 1920

Have you had any chick or farm-related experiences? Please share for a chance to win a hardcover copy of BOOKED TO DEATH!

Victoria Gilbert

About Victoria Gilbert

Raised in a historic small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian. Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series and the Book Lover’s B&B series for Crooked Lane Books. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel. She lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

V. Gilbert all book covers

Check out Victoria’s website for more information on her books and links to all her social media accounts: http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

You can find buy links for all of Victoria’s currently published books here (and order via indie bookstores!): https://bookshop.org/books?keywords=Victoria+Gilbert 

53 thoughts on “A Memory of Chicks

  1. Such wonderful memories! I love that your grandmother was willing to take in the unwanted animals. She sounds like a kind soul, and I believe animals respond to that. I have always lived in cities, so not much chicken experience for me. I just have to settle for getting my chick fix from the Chicks on the Case! Congrats on your new series!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I actually have many memories of accompanying my granny to collect eggs in the hen house. All the peck marks on her hands made me take this quite seriously. I also remember when the crates of new chicks would arrive in the spring. What a smell, but I couldn’t wait to briefly hold one. And, one just got used to farm odors, anyway.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I did talk my granny and my mom into letting me raise one chick in town. He would come down the driveway when I came home from school. But, when he was grown he went back to the farm. Such memories.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. What great memories! We actually had a couple of hens when I was a kid and regularly got to get the eggs from them. Congrats on the new book, I am looking forward to it.Thanjs!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I loved all the baby animals. When my grandparents’ sheep would have twins, sometimes the ewe would reject one, and my grandmother would hand-raise it. I remember feeding baby lambs from an old glass coke bottle fitted with a black nipple. You really had to hold onto the bottle — they could pull it from your hands!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have never lived on a farm, visited a farm, known anyone from a farm. My family comes from rural PA, but the closest I ever got was being on a non working ranch. I’ve had horses snot on me during my job, but that’s a bit bigger than a chicken.
    Your attitude towards rural people is fab. We can’t assume a country boy has no smarts, or that a city girl does!
    Thank you for the stories.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. What wonderful memories you have, Victoria! So glad you shared them with us at Chicks today, along with these great photos. As a city and suburb girl, I envy you your small town experience. And you’ve translated your love and respect for rural towns into your Blue Ridge series so beautifully. Looking forward to the new series!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Congratulations on the book, Victoria! My only farm-related memory is being chased by a goose as a child. Here I thought they were so soft and pretty. I learned a valuable lesson that day: geese can be downright mean!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So agree, Liz! I still remember getting bitten by a goose at the Beardsley Park Zoo when I was really young. Still haven’t forgiven her—it hurt!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Our next-door-neighbors recently got some chicks which have now grown into hens, and I love waking to the soft cooing sounds they make in the mornings outside our bedroom window.

    Congrats on the new series, Victoria–it sounds wonderful! And thanks so much for visiting the Chicks with your chicks stories!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. So glad you’re here, Victoria! These stories and photos are absolutely wonderful.

    My one bona fide chick story is from fourth grade. We had an amazing teacher who let us hatch eggs in class. (He lived on a farm and would bring hatchlings that didn’t go home with students to his roost.) I became so entranced with my little chick that I begged my mother to let me keep her. She agreed(!!), and Daisy lived with us for about a year before she went to a friend’s farm. It was such a great experience!

    Congrats on the new release and both of your fantastic series!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Wow! I’ll bet that makes for some excitement.

        First time I saw a coyote was when I spied him running down our street. He was jogging along as if he had no particular place to be. We see TONS of deer and rabbits, but the predators are a rare sight.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I don’t have any experiences with farms other than the occasional visit. I’m a city boy. I absolutely agree with you about intelligence. I’ve met plenty of people from all walks of life who are very smart. You dismiss anyone at your own peril.

    Congrats on the new series! A book B&B? Sounds right up my ally.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Victoria, thanks for sharing your memories and hanging out today with the Chicks!
    As a youngster I enjoyed visiting my aunt and uncle’s farm. Once, when I was little I climbed into the pig pen to pet some adorable piglets. I was blissfully unaware of the sow lying in the shade on the other side of the pen, but she had her eye on me. Fortunately so did Uncle William. He reached in and scooped me out of the pen just as an angry Mama pig was storming toward me!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Victoria, congrats on your new book! I also love those photos you shared.

    We raised two hens and a rooster in my childhood. I still have a great fondness for those chickens… Well, except for the fact that we had a very confused rooster who would also crow at the moon.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahah, yes, they don’t always just crow at dawn. I remember hearing them off and on throughout the day.
      Most of the chickens on my grandparents’ farm were easy going, but there was one rooster we called “Pecky.” You can probably guess why! He tried to attack my brother once and my grandmother had to chase him off with her handy walking stick.

      Liked by 4 people

  12. So excited to have you here on Chicks today, Victoria, and congrats on the new book! Loved the nostalgic post—and what a handsome couple, your grandparents. I’ve lived in the city (yes, chickens), grew up in the burbs (definitely no chicks), and now I live in a rural NH town (zillions). We don’t raise chicks (coyote visits would break my heart) but get fresh eggs from friends. And I love the arrival of baby chicks and ducks at the hardware store, several times in spring/early summer. People pre-order and they go fast. All the cute peeping from the heated horse feeding troughs!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I don’t have any experience with chickens, but I did get to feed the bison on my aunt and uncle’s ranch. When I was probably ten or so, I got between the herd of horses and their dinner bell and you’ve never seen a little girl move so fast over a fence. Nothing scarier than seeing a dozen horses running right at you full-tilt! Not even the bison.

    The image of your grandmother getting the hens off their nests might stay with me just as long. Hilarious! Thanks for visiting us Chicks with your chick stories today. I think that might be a first here …

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Loved your introduction to yourself! What a wonderful childhood you had! I have always lived in the city until the last 15 years or so. About 10 years ago I decided I would love to have a few chickens for fresh eggs and pets. I put it on my Christmas list for Santa and left all the proper “hints”. On Christmas Day there was a cement Chicken statue under the tree with a note. It said Santa had delivered my Kung Pao Chicken and it was in the fridge. I almost lost it laughing that day! Needless to say I have never had the privilege of raising chickens…at least not yet 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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