It’s not all about looks . . .
Nicky, a hybrid laying hen is the smallest hen I have ever seen, more the size of a bantam, and she arrived with very few feathers, having spent her short life squashed in a barn with hundreds of other birds. Even though she is small, she is by no means feeble. She is a calm bird with strong legs and a determined personality. She is a survivor.
Since she is featherless, she is at the bottom of the pecking order and has no place at the feeding stations in her new home. That is not a deterrent. At first light, Nicky runs to the feeder, moving faster than the others to retrieve a mouthful of food. When the others arrive, she is pecked and forced away. So she runs to a second station. There is no space for her. That’s not a problem. Little Nicky has a solution. She squeezes in between two birds, and using her telescopic neck finds her way to the grain. They notice her and peck her, but she is quick and runs to another station. This continues until her crop is full. What a girl!
Whenever I am in the enclosure, she remains on my heel in a dog-like fashion. When I open the feed bins, she jumps into the bag, always ready, always eager and tenacious. She may just be a bird, but she has a character, and I will miss her when her time comes. But there will be others to take her place. As I enjoy watching her antics I think of Freda from a couple of years ago with similar character traits, or Quasi, my first oven-ready hen that had lived a sad existence in a cage, and did not survive long in my care. She was a character too, and despite her health problems, had been a happy little girl.
Aw, what joys! For some reason, the smallest and the most troubled seem to have the biggest personalities. Maybe there is a reason for that . . .