Only Happy Hens Here

February 21, 2010

I hope so anyway. They arrived yesterday a few hours after leaving the battery farm, five girls, rather short on wing and breast feathers and with pale floppy combs, always a sign of ill-health. We have named them Grace, Mercy, Patience, Hope and Charity. Puritan names but in this house indulgence reigns. The hens were utterly bemused of course by finding themselves in an eglu-cube and no doubt yearned for the cosy familiarity of the battery cage. But when I carried each one into the run, though obviously perplexed by the texture and greenness of grass, some instinct led them to start pecking. It was a Fidelio moment. I’d forgotten how delightful is the croaky crooning sound hens make when enjoying themselves. They stepped delicately about, turning their heads to the horizontal to look up at the sky, down at the grass, both at the same time obviously and started nervously at the coos and whistles and wing flapping of the wild birds whose feeders are also in the orchard. The girls weren’t interested in the food or water (worrying) and had no idea about putting themselves to bed when it got dark. I had to crawl into the run and catch them. Though the run is reputedly foxproof, our fox comes for food every night and I think the sight of his beautiful but unmistakably predatory face staring at them through the bars would have finished off these poor traumatised hens. This morning, when the door of the house was opened, two of them came out into the run more or less straight away but the others had to be manually assisted. Now, 5 pm, after a day that began with heavy snow and then became brilliantly sunny, they are all eating, drinking and exploring and three of them have laid an egg!

One Response to “Only Happy Hens Here”

  1. Béatrice Dorlanne said

    Dear Victoria, I just read your February entries (I’m French,and even if I read your books fluently, I never speak nor write in English, so I beg your pardon for my awkwardness…), and I just loved your 5 girls’story ! Poor them, what a shame – and how lucky they are now. I just hope they will be healthyer and safe from the fox ?
    I was very happy to read your 3 new messages, because it was just like reading one of your books – I read all the 7 of them and I am so fond of them I reread on and on, but I never could find Past Mischief and Dance With Me in English, I hope they will be republished one day ? I am waiting your next novel with great impatience, because you make me dream and laugh and smile and I often say “So just like me!”. So, you see, just another fan !
    Thank you so much for entertaining and helping us readers so well. Béatrice

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