Several years ago, Daisy the Labrador retriever was part of our extended family. She came to us after being rehomed at least twice due to extreme skin allergies. We tried daily baths, steroid injections and an expensive line of medicated dog food that she wouldn’t eat. When Daisy’s skin became bald, itchy and broken, there seemed nothing left but euthanasia. We made an appointment. Not wanting to invest in more food that the other dogs wouldn’t eat, my Steve created a daily mixture of green beans, potatoes and eggs to feed Daisy until the final car ride.

Three days, half a bag of frozen green beans, six potatoes and as many eggs later, Daisy’s skin had stopped flaking. The appointment was cancelled. We had smiley, joyful Daisy in our lives for three more years. She kept a healthy coat of the palest yellow, a trace of which we find on sweater sleeves to this day.

Although Daisy’s homemade hash was a whole lot cheaper than cans of unpalatable wheat-free, embryonic rice and lamb cuticle pate´, we did go through a lot of potatoes, green beans and/or corn and eggs. For two years we bought seed potatoes, intending to grow our own crop. Each year, usually in August, one of us would unearth a rancid bundle of creamed seed potatoes from the junk drawer, a glove compartment or from the depths of my purse.

We lost Daisy in 2010, but we didn’t stop thinking about the dozens of eggs that she so enjoyed. That same year we were gifted a dozen brown eggs, smooth oval jewels that had been collected from nests the same day that we received them. From these Steve crafted scrumptious omelets, which we ate while surfing the net for five-star Ohio hatcheries. In short order, 15 Hubbard Golden Comets were scheduled for shipment to our house via the United States Postal Service.

Sixteen chicks arrived two weeks later. Steve named them all Priscilla (the reason for that is a story in itself) and raised them by hand. Once the peeps became cheeps, the Prissies were moved into a butter-yellow henhouse 20 feet from our kitchen door, although they preferred to be close by whoever came out that entrance. One of them presented an egg right before Christmas, which was the first of many that we enjoyed with toast and neighbor Bill Utendorf’s honey.

The last Prissy died in late 2013. We found that Comets don’t live that long. They are bred to lay, lay lay and give up the ghost, one way or the other. Several chickens of various breeds have joined our flock, a few ordered and others cruelty or abandonment cases that came to us via humane organizations. Audrey was a debeaked production red who fell off a slaughter truck along I-75. Even so, she preferred human companionship, going so far as to perch on a knee during morning coffee or jumping in the car for a ride. Other than the original 16, Audrey was the only chicken in our company to allow human interaction until two weeks ago, when we opened the hen house and Little Red perched on Steve’s shoulder.

I don’t know if it’s a food-driven behavior, cold feet or the sheer joy of temperatures above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Whatever causes this red-brown, black-tailed hen to seek us out, I’ll enjoy each encounter. We may get no farther than store-bought potatoes at our place, but you can’t beat a fresh egg gifted by a happy chicken.