I aught to have my head examined…..

She is a Belgian Bearded D’Uccles Mille  Fleur
Who knew? Maybe we’ll call her Millie.

It was just a trip to the Farmer’s Market with Mike & Mom, but what do we find there? An old Bantam hen needing a home, having been saved from the fate her flock mates met by her fancy feathers. Never been particularly attracted to fancy feathered hens with feathers on their feet, but feeling sorry for Studdly, I brought her home. Turns out she has a bad leg, was very hungry, wants nothing to do with Studdly, who is smaller than her…….She is calm, but wondering when she can go home……she does have beautiful feathers, orange, black and white, very Halloweenish, guess we’ll have to call her Pumpkin, or Ghoul, or something like that……

She looked like she was going to attack him at one point. He just danced around trying to convince her he may be short, but a good and worthy mate!

I hope it works out for them.  An odd couple indeed!  He’s on the roost tonight, she is nestled down in the corner of the chicken house on fresh straw, wondering where she is.

Getting ready for the trip home
from the market

And I wanted less, not more animals.

Update: She has settled in, likes the digs, but not Studdly. Poor guy, he’s trying hard to impress, but she’s having none of it.  Though I see now they are both on the outside roost…..progress!









2012 update: after laying 3 eggs in the spring, Millie ‘came out’ and started to talk……a lot!  In 35 years of living with chickens, I have never had one carry on as she does, and she doesn’t have a particularly pleasant voice, a sort of whiny squawk.  She learned to beg at the back door, and come in if she didn’t get what she wanted.  She eats just about anything, from cottage cheese to corn on the cob, which she gets rather giddy over.  She can’t always control her energy, and often trips over self when running for a sunflower seed treat, or the promise of some other treat…….in short, she is a character!  Has not laid an egg since those three.  She and Studdly have become buddies though he still is rather dazed by her quirky personality.

Familarless this Halloween…..

Little Red Hen, why have I not written of your demise?  It’s been 2 weeks today the illustrious Little Red Hen of facebook fame, whose quirky face sold more cards than any of my other 60+ designs, was found, by me, dead in the red chicken house she shared with Studdily, her attentive and chivalrous rooster. There was little time to reflect on her death. A few hours later I was told I needed a biopsy to rule out cancer as a cause of a condition of great delicacy on my body.  That little drama over, in my favor, I have let my breath out.

As I watch Studdily wander aimlessly around, without purpose to his life, I too miss the cocky little hen who defied the odds to live as long as she did.  Perhaps because I wrote about her life as she lived it, it seems there is little left to write. She’s gone, story over.  She was indeed remarkable. Curious, smart, willing to be picked up, held and petted, and with a propensity for creating eggs too large for her diminutive body to expel, she lived life on the edge, at times full of hyper-energy, at times standing around in a daze. This is not unlike myself.  She followed me around, stood on the shovel when I dug in the garden, bit my hand if my weeding didn’t produce enough worms to appease her appetite, walked into the house to look around for whatever a chicken might be looking for, and ran up vet bills that rivaled our last dog’s medical expenses.

There were times I off-the-cuff referred to her as my familiar, so in the spirit of the season I thought I would explore this remark.

According to Wikipedia a familiar is a supernatural entity believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.  I’ve never thought of myself as a witch, though I have dressed as one many a Halloween, but I’d like to think I am occasionally cunning, as in ingenious.  This is good.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say…….

“When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning-folk they were often thought of as benevolent (although there was some ambiguity in both cases). The former were often categorized as demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for him/her as they come into their new powers.”

Well now this gets interesting.  First, we were told many times Little Red Hen could not live long. As recently as 5 months ago we were encouraged to ‘put her to sleep’ as she had no more than a few more hours, maybe a day to live.  She had a broken egg in her which couldn’t be removed and was causing toxins in her system.  I repeat, that was five months ago. I think defying death might put Little Red Hen in the category of “supernatural entity”, just a suggestion…….
As for the fairy part.  She was certainly elfin in size and impish in personality. The definition of fairies is quite broad, but can include wings, which she had, and the ability to appear and disappear, which she did quite frequently.  I vote yes on the fairy identity.
On to the benevolent pursuits. Certainly the pleasure a child, my aging mom, or anyone received stroking her small warm body of silky feathers, or the smiles her facial expressions brought to the dozens, maybe hundreds, of folks who bought my cards showing her countenance might be thought of as benevolent pursuits.  We certainly teamed up in these pursuits. In a crazy world, these little acts from a little being make a difference.
Now for the helping me to come into my new powers part.  Have I come into these powers, or was I a helpless cause and, giving up, she decided not to stick around through another winter?  I will continue to ponder this aspect of her role as a familiar.  Perhaps she will continue to assist from another realm……..
For now, there is one lonely, aging, but healthy and handsome rooster with a lovely red house looking for a small mate of similar age.  And Little Red Hen’s facebook page has been taken over by Gray Duck, to appease non-feathered friends. I doubt Gray Duck will be as witty. She is not, after all, a familiar. Though there may be a bit of magic in her.