A Good Home, Animals, Barns, Canadians, Country Living, Couples, Dogs, Life in canada

At Home with Valerie Rowley Pt. 1

My mother always raised chickens.  And when my husband and I got a place smack-dab in the country, some years ago, I wanted to raise chickens.

“Too much flippin’ work,” he said. “Never mind the fact that chickens attract weasels, foxes, you name it. No chickens!”

I got the drift: No chickens!

So imagine my delight in discovering, years later, that someone I know raises chickens.  And – what’s more –  invited me to come visit with her and them!

Blog Photo - Val and Chickens

That someone is designer Valerie Rowley.  She has 5 varieties of chickens.

“Silver Laced Wyandottes (small, bossy little hens); Buff Orpingtons – large, golden, affable hens – the archetypal Easter chick in fact. We also have Black Australorps – the Angelina Jolie of chickens with lustrous black feathers and large round eyes. “

Blog Photo - Vals chicken 3

Blog Photo - Vals Chicken 2

“Then we have the big Light Brahmas.  Grey and black with lovely feathery feet, they always make me smile.   They are extremely vocal with a wide chicken vocabulary of sounds and a clumsy, waddling gait .”

Blog Photo - Vals chickens roaming

“And then we have the Ameraucaunas.   They lay the blue and green-shelled eggs – a throw back to a jungle fowl years ago.  Sweet birds but tend to get picked on and rarely  fight back.”

Blog Photo - Vals chickens roaming

Blog Photo - Val Rainbow eggs

Happy memories from my childhood came flooding back at the sight of all these chickens roaming around the barn and the yard outside.

But raising chickens does have its challenges.  Just the other day, Val was busy sewing a “chicken saddle” to protect the back feathers of Cleopatra, a hen who had attracted the amorous advances of Mr. T., the rooster.

Blog Photo - Vals Rooster Mr T

Mr. T., Val says, “is still currently denuding more than a few of his  favourite hens of their neck and back feathers in the throes of his passion”.

Well … er … ahem….

After saying hello to Mr. T and the flock, I then met the dogs.   Val and her husband Chris raise and train Belgian Shepherd Dogs  – the Tervueren variety.

“There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd, but I like the Tervueren because it is not  only extremely smart, athletic and loving but also very beautiful.   And aesthetics mean a lot to me of course!   They are also a healthy breed – not so popular, therefore not badly bred.”

Blog Photo - Vals dogs1

Val says the Tervueren is not a dog for everyone.  “They can be strong-willed and when young, often  in constant motion.”

Blog Photo - Val and Doggie

“You have to like exercise to own one of these dogs!   But when they work well they look amazing.   Neither Chris nor I would have anything else now.”

Thank you, Val, for a really lovely visit.

Next: Part 2. Val’s favourite spaces in her house and garden.

49 thoughts on “At Home with Valerie Rowley Pt. 1”

  1. My daughter and her husband are in the process of building a chicken coop to house the babies they’ve been nursing in their garage. I think I agree with your husband that it’s too flippin’ much work. Hugs, N

  2. I’ve always wanted to raise a few chickens. What a thrill to know where your eggs come from, and to have them hot off the press – so to speak. Val is leading an idyllic life … nice to see.

  3. Very interesting! I had no idea that chicken varieties had different behavioral qualities – I guess I thought a chicken was a chicken was a chicken:0)).

    For some reason I keep running across articles and young people in real life who want to keep chickens. There must be some sort of chicken Renaissance going on…..

    1. No, Beth. A chicken ain’t a chicken is a chicken — OK, I’m totally lost. A chicken renaissance… that makes me smile, Beth. I read the words and imagined all these chickens at easels, and one painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. Really, any moment now I may start clucking….

  4. Cynthia – you have just described my perfect dream life – dogs, chickens, being outdoors, activity, oh I’d like a horse too, a little girl dream that lives on – I get the eggs from round the corner at our local farm and from the shop too, but having your own must be lovely. But more wonderful than the eggs is looking at all the different breed of chicken. Amazing

    1. It is great, isn’t it? I get the dream life of dogs, chickens, horses and the outdoors, I do. Nice to know I can go visit Val and Chris. She gave me a carton of eggs, and I really liked the fact that they were of different colours — especially the robin’s egg blue ones.

      1. yes it is great – you can pop over to enjoy with none of the responsibility – robin blue chicken eggs? how wonderful – which breed lays those?

  5. Lovely tour and visit to Valerie’s animal sanctuary. I’m with your husband, but it’s nice to visit and learn about the different varieties. Thanks Cynthia. I’m glad you had fun with Valerie and her flock!

  6. Have never raised chickens or knew anyone who did until about a month ago when we had dinner with Bill’s financial advisor and his wife. They raise chickens and, as a lesson in economics for their teen daughter, she sells the eggs to local businesses/people. They’re were 19 babies incubating when we had dinner. I think a visit is in order. Those dogs are beauties!

  7. Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Cynthia!! I love seeing the chickens and the dogs! Every year at the end of September, we used to attend the big county fair here. It’s a very nice one, and almost as big as the state fair in Raleigh. Anyhoo, we love to go to the chicken exhibit and see all the various types and colors. The Buff Orpingtons were always a favorite with me; I love their pretty gold color. There’s also a leghorn variety of rooster, which always reminds us of good old “Foghorn Leghorn” from the Looney Tunes cartoons. 😀 I cracked up at the picture of Mr. T. — no mystery how he got his name. 😉

    Some of the Belgian shepherds are used here in the U.S. for the canine police units, and they are so intelligent. I look forward to seeing Part 2 of this post, Cynthia. 🙂



    1. One of our hens used to go way under the house cellar to lay her eggs. I never really appreciated how good it was to have a fresh supply of eggs, all natural, till when I got older.

  8. When I was a kid, one of my chores was to collect eggs by reaching under the hens. They didn’t like it and I didn’t like them. Dogs, on the other hand–I love dogs and these are especially handsome!

  9. We don’t keep chickens and probably won’t – too much work; Richard doesn’t like them. Next-door neighbours’ chickens are always in our garden so we get to see fowl behaviour regularly. Mum and Dad kept hens when they moved from town to the country and they enjoyed having them and the eggs. They were too soft to get rid of them when they stopped laying so their garden became a retirement home for fat old hens dust-bathing in the vegetable plot or coming in the house to see whether the cats and dogs had left any food in their dishes. They also kept Bantams and bantams prefer to roost in trees. This used to terrify their guests as the favourite roosting tree was a plum tree outside the spare bedroom window. Bantam cockerels have a high-pitched crow and start singing very early. 😀

  10. Oh, I went through a chicken phase but I am so glad now that my husband put his foot down. Now that I am Vegan I don’t eat eggs anyway and to raise chickens well, you have to be home, as in ALL the time! My husband did get me chickens and I still laugh about it today – he bought me two metal sculpture chickens from Gardener’s Supply. “There, now you have chickens!,” he said.

  11. Judy has a thing for inanimate chickens but is absolutely opposed to live chickens. So we have ceramic chickens, plastic chickens, metal chickens, and a concrete chicken. These don’t attract pests, but they don’t give eggs either.

  12. Thank you for showing us Val’s place, Cynthia, I’ll be back later for part 2. Her rooster looks just like a very “aggressive” one we had for our chickens when we lived in the country. I love the faces of her dogs–pretty.
    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  13. Enjoyed this post about Val and her chickens. This brings back so many memories.
    Growing up, I always remembered my Dad dreaming of having a hobby farm one day, and my mom kept dismissing the idea, saying that would be such an incredible amount of work.
    But when my Dad retired from his business, he and my mom ended up acquiring a hobby farm after all, and both of them loved it. It was in a small community in the Fraser Valley, far away from the busy-ness of city living. Their chickens were happy ones, free to roam the grounds during the day. There was one chicken in particular that would remain standing where she was and wait to be stroked before she continued on her way.
    Am glad you had a chance to visit Val. Got here via your current post about Val’s illness. May she be feeling better soon….

    1. Great to hear your memories of your parents realizing their dream of a hobby farm, and of chickens roaming around. I started life on a small hobby farm, and there were lots of chickens roaming around too!

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