Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

the little red hen

I’m back to the freezing winter after a lovely 10 days in warmer climes. It is hard to adjust after vacation – to the weather, to the “real” life – and while I expected my “extra” three days before going back to work would give me a chance to relax into my normal routines, the reality is that I hit the ground running.

Within hours after my red-eye flight landed on Friday, I was driving towards Baltimore to pick up a hen needing transport to the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary.

“She lays beautiful eggs,” one of the workers assured me. Thinking it was a comment on her good health, which was evident in her bright clear eyes and gorgeous feathers, I thought it odd, but not that odd. As I would when faced with new parents who delight in sharing the pediatrician’s assessment of their progeny’s healthy bowel movements, I just sort of smiled and nodded.

“We made brownies with them!”

And I about gagged. “Straight from her butt to your dessert!” was all I could think.

I was assured several more times that the little red hen lays beautiful eggs. It was distressingly obvious that this woman who had just been cuddling the hen still managed to see her only in terms of what she could produce, what she could do for this woman. And there was no comprehension that I was part of a rescue group and was taking the hen to a sanctuary. Or maybe simply no comprehension of what a sanctuary is.

Reformed Fast Food Mascot had an interesting post today, and it ties directly into this issue. “The different types of people who consume animal products,” and based on those descriptions I’d put this animal shelter worker somewhere between #3 and #4.

The little red hen spent the night at my place on Friday because she needed to be picked up during the week, but I wasn’t going out to the sanctuary until Saturday. A chicken in my condo. That was an interesting experience!

pattrice (one of the co-founders of Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary) had assured me that cats rarely bother full grown chickens, and so I was watchful of my cat as I first released the little red hen in my condo, but not overly worried. And sure enough, Tempest was the intimidated one. She got up onto the desk to observe from a safe distance, while the hen ignored Tempest with a complete lack of concern for the predator in the room with her.

She was pretty demanding – she wanted corn chips, but not tofu or rice – but was a total sweetheart. Exhausted from a night of travel, I ended up napping on my big purple chair, legs up over the chair arms. And when I woke up, the hen was perched atop my legs! So light, I could only feel her feet if I concentrated on it.

She spent the night perched on the dining room table. Adjusting to the time difference, I was up a few times during the night, and she’d be sleeping peacefully, her head tucked around to the side. She’d lift her head as I walked by her and make her soft trilling coo sounds.

When I got up in the morning, she’d been finishing up the last of the tofu from the night before (which she decided was good enough, I guess, when I wasn’t around to be manipulated into giving her more corn chips), but as soon as she heard me moving around, she came trotting over to tell me in no uncertain terms that she’d like more chips!

The drive out to the eastern shore was uneventful. She didn’t find much to fuss about, and handled the change in circumstances with an unflappable calm. pattrice says this is common in her experience with these red hens.

It was great to see her in a yard full of chickens, in her element. There was dirt to scratch at instead of carpet, and she had chickens and ducks to establish a pecking order with, instead of a cat and a human. She wandered all over, interested in everything, intimidated by nothing.

It was a great feeling to leave her there, knowing she’d have a great life, allowed to just be herself.

Tempest is pretty happy to not have to share the condo with an intimidating bird too!

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4 responses to “the little red hen

  1. Pingback: heartbreak: 39-8=31 « Invisible Voices

  2. pattricejones January 27, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Deb, The little red hen, who I am calling “Hannah Arendt,” (we’ve had Rosa Luxemborg, Simone deBeauvoir, etc. — I like calling rebellious hens by the names of leftist intellectuals) continues to roam widely… I never know in which yard I’m going to find her. She’s sociable enough with the other birds but seems to prefer to go her own way. I really appreciate her intrepid and independent spirit.

  3. Deb January 27, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    pattrice, thanks for the update on hannah! It doesn’t surprise me that she is roaming widely! She sounds like an interesting character. 🙂

  4. girl least likely to January 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    i loved this story, and i loved picturing her demanding corn chips while tempest looked on. heh.

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