I call her Henrietta, because anyone with hens should have at least one named Henrietta. In fact, none of the our other chickens, friendly as they are, have yet been named.
But Henrietta is unlike the others. She’s a bit special.
Henrietta looks disheveled and she seems confused at times. Her comb is small and faded, much different than the large and vibrant red combs of her sister hens. And her gait is unsteady. In fact, she has trouble walking at all, and she is unable to roost at night with the others. Instead, Henrietta sleeps alone in one of the egg-laying boxes.
Yet in spite of the juvenile and insensitive jokes we sometimes make about her (“someone must have shaken the egg before she was born,” etc), Henrietta elicits our admiration.
She is determined to keep up.
When we let the chickens out in the morning Henrietta is the last to exit the coop. But she eventually does. As the other chickens race up and down the chunnel, they may trample her, but she always weathers the storm and eventually gets to where she wants to be.
We sometimes worry about Henrietta. The hawks are well aware that we have chickens, and we’ve occasionally experienced losses on days the chickens have been allowed to free-range outside their chunnel. The weakest and slowest chicken would seem to be the likeliest target.
But our special chicken might turn out to be our smartest chicken, and in spite of her disabilities, Henrietta may be with us for a long time. I hope so.