The Hen that Touched Our Lives

You have to understand that I am not particularly fond of chickens.  Oh, I like them well enough to own about 60 hens but if they didn't provide delicious, free range eggs for us, I would not own them.  I do not enjoy raising meat birds and I do not make pets out of them.  However, the spirit housed beneath the feathers of the bird pictured in this photo changed all of that for me. 

We didn't make her a pet.  She just "was" a pet.  We never named her and there was really nothing to distinguish her from the other 50 Speckled Sussex hens running around the farm other than the fact that she singled us out and chose to love us. 

I received this little hen as part of a group of mixed breed birds that a friend of mine started and then sold when they were several months old.  Every morning and evening as I milked and worked on the chores, she would follow me around and talk to me in a special voice.  I will never, ever forget the sound of her calling to me.  It was soft and conversational. 

It didn't take us long to realize that she enjoyed being held.  We would pick her up and stroke her feathers, talking to her and enjoying her company.  She and Spencer, the Corgi, also had a special relationship.  Spencer watched out for her and if he thought she needed to be somewhere else, he would very gently "herd" her.  He didn't run at her and spook her but would gently lay his mouth on her tail and turn her, not nipping and barking like he usually does. 

I loved this little hen's tempermant so much that I bought all Speckled Sussex last year for our laying hens.  While they all have a quiet disposition, none of them became pets like this little hen. 

We would sometimes talk about how much it would hurt to lose the little hen when it came her time to go but we never really wanted to think about it too much. 

Then one day a couple of weeks ago,, I saw the body of a hen lying under the roost.  Normally, I will remove a dead bird but I walked away.  I didn't want to look any further.  Later, I told Mike and he went to remove the bird confirming that he thought it was our little friend.

There was no way for us to really know because she looked like all the other Speckled Sussex in the barn yard.  But, I knew if she was alive she would greet me at chore time. 

The days have come and gone and I have waited for her.  Sometimes another hen will come close to the door of the milking parlor and peer in and I watch to see if maybe it is our little friend.  But, she has not returned.  Sometimes I hear a hen speaking in conversational tone and for a moment, I think it might be her until I realize that it's not her sweet voice calling me. 

She was five years old and I like to think that she went to sleep on the roost and died in her sleep peacefully. 

Goodbye little hen.  You are missed and will always hold a special place in our hearts. 


Anonymous said...

Ohhh I'm sorry Tammy, I loved the story though...that hen had an old soul :)

Teresa Schoellkopf said...

Ahhh, bless her heart. Oh, but it was! She passed on with a heart gladdened by the love she received! Time to wait for the next one to choose you, Tami. Get ready!