June 14, 2010

Ode to a Good Old Hen

Several years ago a friend gave me two pullets and a young guinea she'd raised from chicks. One of the pullets was a brown game chicken.

They grew up, joined my flock, and began laying. That year I was diagnosed with severe anemia, and to make my life a bit easier, I sold some of my goats, all my guineas, and quite a few of my chickens. I kept the buff orpington chickens and sold the other half dozen assorted hens to another friend. When she came to get them, the game hen escaped and went off into the woods. As the sun went down she wandered back and I shut her into the guinea coop. She lived there for several months before I finally moved her back into the chicken coop.

She was the "odd woman out", being the only game bird I've ever had, and the buffs shunned her. I considered giving her to my neighbor who had free range game hens... or to a friend's young son who had some game chickens... but the little hen stayed here. Every day she laid her small, light brown egg, even when the other birds did not lay.

Yesterday morning I found her dead in the nest box. She laid an egg the day before. I'll miss her and her little, light brown eggs. Four years old is pretty old for a chicken. She was a good hen.

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