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Sorrel Bellocq and her husband Girons. Between them is Sorrel’s brother Armin.

“Once upon a time…”

Urban life is in constant motion, continuous revision. I recognize the changes that have taken place since I was a boy but may not see the change going on round and about me even as I write this. And when you point these changes out to anyone half your age or younger, their eyes roll back, head tilts to the side, and you hear them think, “Blah, blah, blah. Here we go again! Another trip down memory lane.”

A lot of that youthful experience has shaped the town of Agincourt, consciously and otherwise, I’m sure. Things like home milk delivery, for example, and the once-a-year visit of the knife sharpener. Why is it I have a difficult time imagining these domestic services happening in “New Urbanist” places like Seaside, Florida? If there’s a Good Humor man, his gelato runs about $5 per scoop. Plus tax. Do they even have knives in Seaside?

And so I come to wonder about the legality of livestock within city limits. There must have been a time when it was common — chickens for fresh eggs; a cow for milk — until the sound of roosters at the crack o’ dawn or the aroma of manure were anathema for your neighbors. Well, the pendulum swings and cities the size of Agincourt are reversing their regulation of urban animals. Dogs are one thing; they can be licensed and their poop appears in manageable quantities. But goats are something else. Now, I also imagine the debate (over 3 o’clock pie and coffee at Adams’ Restaurant and eventually before the city council, about putting it to a vote) that may be taking place even as I type this entry — and as you read it.

This change probably follows a pattern of some sort; scales of species and numbers. Chickens, yes. Geese, not yet. Are six chickens too many? Are two too few?

And so, I acquired this RPPC of three folks and their poultry. I can’t tell you who they are, yet, but there must be a story worth telling. Remember what James Carse says: “If you can’t tell a story about what happened to you, then nothing happened.”


PS [21.02.2021]: The photograph at top was taken on the farm of Girons and Sorrel Bellocq. Between them is her brother Armin, visiting from France — possibly riding out the war. They hail from Pau, a small town in Gascogne (Gascony) in southwestern France. Pau is renowned as a wintering place for the English; tea at 4:00 and all that. Mary Todd Lincoln spent some time there as a widow in her declining years.

What brought the Bellocqs to Agincourt, I can’t say. But their small farm was just east of town along Crispin Creek’s north bank. The land (which included an orchard long past its prime) was acquired in the 1950s and developed as one of Agincourt’s earliest post-WWII developments. There should be a plaque about the Bellocqs.

Sorrel’s animal husbandry provided Agincourt with fresh eggs, delivered to her regulars on Monday or Thursday. My great-grandmother Martha Tennant was a customer.

Oh, and the large hen in front of Sorrel is Agathe.

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