Sarah the chicken overcomes her emotional wounds and finds happiness eating chook food with her friends near the house.
Sarah the black hen came to live in her new home as a pullet (young hen) with her speckled brown friend, Clementine.
Clementine got a fancy name because the people who sold her to us assured us she would lay blue eggs, though she was too young to lay at the time. Sarah, on the other hand, got a dull name because she was expected to lay white eggs.
As it turned out, both Clementine and Sarah lay slightly bluish eggs, but not blue enough for me to definitively convince myself that they’re not white. Perhaps the two hens split the difference.
So Sarah’s ordinary name is a little undeserved.
She is very pretty.
She’s sleek and streamlined and more than a little nervy.
Last year she spent four months broody. No eggs. Then when she finally realised no babies were coming she climbed off her nest and moulted. Also no eggs.
After about nine months she decided to start laying her perhaps-blue eggs again.
Once, she and her friends got into trouble. They found an exciting cave not too far from the chicken coop. It smelled of food and the floor was squishy.
The neighbours (yes, the same ones who stole our sheep) were not impressed to come home and find chickens roaming around their living room.
I maintain they shouldn’t have left the door open.
Then the chickens found a box full of dirt that was crawling with worms. They tended it well, keeping the soil aerated and using it as a dining room and dust-bathing patch.
And when annoying shoots popped up, like the vegetables we sowed, they scratched and scratched until the soil was perfect and clear once more.
One brilliant day, Sarah suffered the fright of her life.
I wasn’t there to see it, so I can only speculate what might have happened.
Sarah was roaming about the lawn, eating grass and doing chickeny things, when the sky darkened.
She looked up, and overhead circled the unmistakable shape of a hawk.
She made a run for the safety of her house, up the driveway, her claws digging into the asphalt, wings flapping to give her speed.
The hawk dove, talons extended.
Sarah squawked and dodged. The talons brushed her wing.
Through the fence, around the water bucket, and finally Sarah plunged into her roofed house. Darkness. Safety.
As I said, I saw nothing of this. I have seen hawks around here, but never bothering the chickens.
I infer what happened from the fact that for months Sarah barely left her house.
My chicken had turned into an agoraphobe.
True, I could entice her out by dropping food on the ground outside, but I suspect as soon as the last kernel of wheat was eaten she high-tailed back inside.
The chicken house is a good distance from our person house, which sometimes means the chickens who sit on the front doorstep and hurl themselves against the glass get fed earlier than those who hide silently in their house at the top of the hill.
One day I was late going up to feed Sarah. I took more pellets than usual to apologise, but when I found her I felt even worse about my tardiness.
She had come out of the chook house and, hugging the hedge, had worked her way twenty metres along the driveway towards the person house. She desperately wanted to get to food, but the world was so terrifying she didn’t know if she could make it.
She looked around wide-eyed as she walked, torn between finding food and going back to safety.
I led her back to her house shaking a tin, and she was so relieved to follow me.
How do you treat an agoraphobic hen? She’s allowed to free range as far as she can bothered walking–well, perhaps not into the neighbours’ house–yet she usually stays within two metres of her house.
Each morning the other chickens troop off on their adventures, leaving her behind. They dig in the garden, paddle in the stream, dust bathe under the camelias, and poo on the front door step.
Sarah sits at home, alone. Cooking, cleaning, staring out the window and wondering when they will return…
So you can understand how happy I was yesterday when I looked out the window (of the person house) and saw Sarah had come with her companions to beg at the front door. She was scared, but with the support of her chickeny friends she was there.
I fed them on the lawn.
I hope this happy chicken story made up for the sad chicken story I told last time.
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