Monday, January 23, 2017
This weekend, we said goodbye to one of our hens, Penny the Rhode Island Red. The LB went outside to feed the hens as usual and found that Penny was dead inside the "apartment" section of the coop. We realized that we hadn't actually seen her in the run part since the day before, when both hens went back into the apartment to flee a very sudden sleet-and-snow shower. Betty came out when the weather cleared, but we didn't see Penny again. Probably, she died later that day. We don't know what happened, but she had been less energetic lately. She didn't seem sick, exactly, just slower, which has been the case for both hens as their third birthday approaches. It's hard to watch them age. We all love animals and have always treated the hens as productive family pets.
I feel badly for the LB. I know the hens are very important to him. We're talking about Penny a lot and he's sad but I know he'll be okay. I've written before about the changes I've seen in the LB since we've had the hens; he took on almost all of the responsibility for their care and always made time to play with them. He has also been very careful and watchful of them when they free-range in the yard; hawks, coyotes and cats are potential threats. I think caring for the hens has made him more empathetic, in addition to the maturity and responsibility he gained. As I went through photos looking for good ones of Penny, I noticed that he's in most of them, holding Penny in his arms. Penny was much more skittish than Betty, less willing to be handled. She was difficult to photograph, always running away and hiding under bushes. She was smaller and faster than Betty, who can usually be found roosting calmly somewhere. Penny was wiry and noisy, but probably smarter than her amiable lump of a sister. She'd fly, indignantly squawking, out of everyone's arms but the LB's.
We're thinking about getting some new chicks in a few weeks, when the feed stores have them available. I'd like to get three; Betty will round out the foursome for as long as we can hang on to her. Three new girls will be a good number for us. I'm going to try to get a sex-linked breed this time, to avoid what happened with our first threesome, which became the twosome of Betty and Penny when big, scary Ginger turned out not to be a girl after all. I'm looking forward to new babies. Soon, my kitchen will be filled with the sound of peeping chicks again! I really loved having them in the house with me, even if they did kick over their water dish approximately eight times a day, and even if they did poop on the floor. I have a mop, it will be okay because...new babies!
Goodbye, Penny. We loved you very much and we will always remember our first little red hen.