About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water. After twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live and work in the Ozarks and visit the mountain often. These are stories about the Ozark Wilderness written from a women deeply influenced by this special place.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fred the Hen

 
    Fred was originally called PTSD hen or post traumatic stress disorder chicken. She was given to us because she had been abused horribly by a rooster. When she came to us she had no feathers on her back at all. She was missing most of her tail feathers and significant portion of her wing feathers and her entire cone! For days after she arrived at our house she just squaked and ran around the yard with fear in her eyes. A loud sounds, quick moving body, or even another chicken would provoke her to go into a terrified fit of squawking as she ran frantically to the corner of the yard. For a full year she didn't lay a egg and around Christmas time we seriously considered eating her.

     Over time her feathers grew back. This spring she began laying an egg every day. Slowly she became calm and normalized in the flock. Then something happened, quite suddenly actually, Zane befriended PTSD hen and renamed her Fred.
   
      Personally I would have never named a hen Fred, but this is Zane's friend, his favorite. She is not the most beautiful hen either, her feathers a grey and dull. But Zane favors her and carries her about the yard, playing games. She tolerates and dare I say even enjoys the company. Fred doesn't try to get away from Zane when he chases her, she runs slowly and then waits for him to catch up. Sometimes she stops and assumes a certain crouched position when she sees him. If he puts her down after carrying her a while, she stays near him, following him sometimes. And though Zane is gentle, he is very intense. I use to worry about the hen a little. My husband would joke that of all the ways for a chicken to live and die, being loved to death by a boy must be a great life and death. But Zane won't harm him chicken, he loves her and knows her limits.
 
     I dare say she loves him too, as much as a chicken can love a boy I suppose. I want to believe that she remembers the abuse she endured as a fledging and because she knows how bad it could be, she appreciates all she has now. Perhaps I am just personifying and it just doesn't go that far. But Fred has a pretty good life for a chicken and she has been through a lot. I hope she knows it and is happy.