Monday, June 13, 2011

Interview With the World's Coolest Hen

      Introducing Red, my very favorite chicken.  She is an Ameraucana hen who generously provides us with big, heavy, sage green eggs.  She is feisty and hilarious.  She has serious eyes and gorgeous feathers.  She is addicted to love, Robert Palmer style. 

Here is Red boasting one of her many chicks. 
She is an exemplary mother, at least when she's not eating her babies.

   And no, smarty pants,
not all chickens
are morning persons. 
But she is.

   In the spirit of gleaning from our elders all the life experience they have to offer, as well as celebrating the nifty collection of personalities here on the farm, following is an interview with the old girl.  At more than nine years old, she is no spring chicken after all, and I think we could benefit from her sharing.

Q:  There's no one quite like you in the barn yard.  What do you believe is an important character trait in being the Alpha Hen?
A:  "Girth.  It helps you push the others around and makes sure you get a place in the food line.  Also attitude.  Look at every day as though it is filled with possibilities.  And mosquitoes, which are delicious."

Q:  Rumor has it you are almost incapable of laying eggs anywhere but in one particular nest inside the chicken house.  Other hens are far less discriminating, especially now that you all are free range.  Why are you so particular about where you lay your big green eggs?
A:  "Those years of nimbly pimbly childbirth are far behind me now.  I have discovered a certain Zen in laying eggs in the same place at the same time every day.  You should try it."

The four largest eggs are Red's.

Q:  We understand you receive loads of kitchen scraps.  What human menu produces the best coop treats?
A:  "Apple shortbread tart."

Q:  You look just fantastic, if you don't mind me saying so.  How do you stay in such great shape? 
A: "Lots of cardio, first and foremost.  If I am not sleeping or egging, I am running.  And squats.  Try eating only off of the ground and see what that does for your posterior.  Also, never underestimate the glossing up power of a good dust bath." 

Q:  Do you have a favorite color or a favorite song?
A:  "The chicken dance, obviously.  Favorite color?  Hmm, green."

Q:  What dreams do you have for your flock in the future?
A:  "An egg in every crate.  And no chickens in any pots."

Q:  Besides your fellow poultry and the outbound kittens, about eleven other animals live on this farm.  Care to comment on any of your neighbors?  This is strictly off the record, of course.
A.  "Chanta is very kind and shares his food and never steps on me.  The dogs are very, very poorly mannered.  Clark-Grievous is quite the looker..."

Chanta, the gentle giant

Q:   You seem to be quite the heart breaker around here.  Any romantic advice for the younger hens?
A:  "Watch your back."

   Ahem, yes.  Red knows a thing or two about love.  She is very popular with the roosters.  Very popular.  Very.  Her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. 

   We conducted our scheduled interview in the vegetable garden where heat-tortured lettuce heads gave Red something to groom as we chatted.  She was accessible and friendly as always, opening up to me the wells of her decade-deep wisdom.  I am happy to have had this time with her, the world's coolest hen, happy to learn what makes her tick.
   Meanwhile, Red's easily distracted companions could be found beneath the tornado-damaged pine tree in the hilly middle field, rearranging dry brown needles and hunting bugs.  The noises of their urgent mission was the backdrop for our interview, and it slowly eroded Red's attention span.

   It was a matter of time before she would leave.  I knew our moments were fast dwindling.  So I risked one more question.

Q:  "Unconfirmed sources report that you were seen eating a thickened egg yolk and maybe a partially formed chick the other day.  What is UP with that?!" 

   Red must have found it impossible to abide this line of questioning.  Her nervous energy rose like the mercury of that summer day, and all of a sudden my favorite chicken sprang up in a small, panicky cloud of feathers.  Zipping off down the hill, headed forward lean and fast while before she had been sitting plump and fluffy, Red left me alone with my wonderings in the vegetable garden. 

   My hottest concerns about motherhood & cannibalism remain unresolved.

   And Red, fighting against the sandy hourglass, continues to rule the roost.

1 comment:

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