Many, many years ago, my best and oldest friend Wendy, whom I’ve known since we were wee, had a pet rooster named Heedley. She had rescued him from the butcher across the street and kept him as a pet.
Fast forward a decade or two, and Wendy is an artist in New York City. She decides to create a line of plush toys, based on the pets she has known, hers and friends’, living and passed. Her very first creation is Heedley Pecked Me In The Eye (he did, and they do). Heedley was to be the foundation of a line of characters called Naughty Naughty Pets.
Fast forward another decade to this past April…I’m living on a five-acre property in the country with a Victorian farm house, a gorgeous historic barn, a great new family, and I’ve decided to get twelve day-old chicks. An insane proposition, but I didn’t know that then.
When time comes to make the chicken coop and run (just barely in time to evacuate the chicks from the house, which they have transformed throughout with their dust and dander), we all decide that, in the absence of a live rooster (which our neighbour would not allow), we will construct an eight-foot Heedley to watch over our girls.
Thus…Heedley’s Hens. Our very first egg was laid August 31, and all ten girls are laying now, more or less reliably (I’m looking at you, Buffy). We share our eggs with family, friends, and friends of friends, and they are truly spectacular, though I say it myself, who shouldn’t.
But we didn’t get the chickens just for the eggs. We got them to engage more directly with our food supply, to teach our daughters and ourselves about these delightful and astonishing animals, and to enjoy them as something between livestock and pets.
Has there been frustration? Absolutely. Heartbreak? Check. Regrets? I’ve had a few. But the pleasure I get from seeing the girls graze and dustbathe on our property is a delight like none I have ever known, and I am looking forward to whatever comes next.
Why ten chickens and not twelve? Ah, you’re paying attention. Well, first Ruby turned out to be Rudy, who we then called Jack and adopted out. Because…no roosters allowed. That was hard.
Then came Hurricane Irene and a very determined, hungry, displaced fox, and we lost Angelina.
That was very hard. And then, we heard that Jack had been killed by a fox, too, defending his new girls. Also…hard.
So, ten girls now. And now you’re all caught up. For the most part. Enjoy the blog. And the eggs!