Day 101 of 365
I recently purchased a set of used egg cartons that were from Vital Farms eggs. I love that Vital Farms does. Plus, they were started by a husband and wife team, and there is a part of me, deep down inside, that is convinced I could start an egg company if I just had a barn and more land. For real, we have a wait list for our eggs most of the time. They are that good because happiness translates to delicious eggs. But I share this only to share what I found inside some of the egg cartons. There was a little piece of paper, printed up like a newspaper, and on part of it was a “profile” of a hen. Apparently, every month, the company profiles a different hen. Of course, there were just a few sentences about this hen, but it gave me an idea: Once per month, I am going to profile one of our hens. And, whether this is a good thing or bad thing I am not sure, but I am going to write more than a few sentences.
I decided to start with Lucy. She is eight years old and our oldest hen. When Broody Hen died a few months ago, she became the very last of our original flock of Rhode Island Reds. She was also our very first hen to be a mama. She raised the original Poe baby! Of course, “Poe Baby” turned out to be a boy. Then, Lucy raised the second Poe baby. Once again, it was a boy. Lucy raised the third Poe baby. same results. But Lucy was one of the best mama hens I have ever seen. She kept the babies until they were nearly bigger than she was. I remember checking on her one night, and her giant baby boy was trying to fit under her, so she just patiently stood up to sleep. The first time I ever heard the mama hen purr, it was from Lucy. I didn’t know chickens could purr before that.
Obviously, watching Lucy be a mama made me love her more than words can say. She was so nurturing. She adopted any baby we put under her and loved being a mama. She went broody every July for three years but then stopped after that. I was so sad when she didn’t go broody anymore. Lucy was so reliable as a mama. I have found, over the years, that you never know how a mama is really going to do. Juliet, for example, is now fired from being a mama after ditching her babies when they were still tiny. Somehow, those kids have managed, but Juliet is fired for next year.
Lucy is so old now. She quit laying eggs about two years ago, but, sometimes, she still gets into the nest boxes and pretends like she might lay an egg. She never does, but I find it fascinating that she still goes through the motions.
She also struggles a bit with health issues at this point. I have to watch her closely. I thought we were going to lose her last summer in the heat, but she did fairly well this summer, despite the epic heat. In fact, for eight years old, I am surprised at how well she’s doing. Just tonight, I was having to shoo her away from the baby food when I was trying to feed the babies. She looked at me confused–“But I’m special.” I have far too many hens who think they are the most special and can do what they want. They are surprised when I tell them no.
She is definitely at the top of the pecking order. She sleeps on the top roost, does what she wants when she wants, and every now and then gives the younger ones a peck on the head for good measure. Interestingly though, she stays out of the fray most of the time. She seems to like to lay low. I appreciate this about her.
Lucy is the original. The last of my first babies. I love her to the moon and back. And isn’t she beautiful? It’s a good sign that her comb is still so big and red. It’s a sign her health is reasonably good right now. I have this hope that Lucy might make it to ten.