A Happy Hen Story

Free Range: The Good Times
Free Range: The Good Times

As some of you know, a few weeks back a red-furred devil (aka the cute neighborhood fox) massacred most of my free ranging chickens. The day was cold and blustery. Chickens were strewn everywhere. I mourned the loss, but  was grateful  one of my favorites escaped the killing fields.

The weather remained frigid, but each day I spent time teasing my goats and talking to my chickens and ducks. The barnyard can be a noisy place. One quiet morning weeks after the attack I heard a weird scratching noise. I took off my hat to hear better. There it was again. My husband had built a house for our ducks, but they preferred living with the chickens in their coop. The noise came from the duck house.

The Safe House
The Safe House

I opened the door expecting a rat to run out, but there was my second favorite hen Limpy. Last summer she’d flown into the hay rack and broken her leg. We thought she’d never walk again, but made a total recovery. If fact she was the fattest, biggest, best meat bird we would never kill (we haven’t killed any chickens since we got them for eggs, but she would have made good food). Limpy is a great layer and a doting mother as well–the case we often make when convincing my husband which ones to keep if we ever did kill them for food.

So there she was a three-week prisoner in the dark, cold and food-less duck house. I guess the wind blew the door shut on that fateful day after she hid from the fox. She never made a peep.

Pale but Alive
Pale but Alive

Limpy looked terrible and a little thin. I wasn’t sure she’d adjust to  real life again, but as soon as she saw Gluck-Gluck and was mounted by our rooster she was back. Now you’d hardly know she’d been a prisoner. Her feathers are full and shiny and her comb is back to bright healthy red. Yet another reason she will live as a pet into retirement (as long as the fox doesn’t get her). Where is that silly guard dog?

Give me food!
Give me food!

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4 thoughts on “A Happy Hen Story

  1. So glad she’s ok. I always worry about free ranging, but my hens are shut up at night and mostly only wander around inside the llama pastures, where predators tremble to tread. I always get mad at them if they wander into the woods. “Your sister died that way!” As though they understand me

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