One of the wonderful things about living and working on a farm are the unexpected moments that shake you out of your daily routine. Like the occasional renegade chicken that wanders from the coop, and decides she likes it better somewhere else. We had a Silver Laced Wyandotte who left the laying flock one summer to hang out with the turkeys instead. She seemed to enjoy the roaming life, following them as they foraged around the farm by day, and then flying up to join them to roost along the pond fence at dusk. It was comical to see her small silhouette in the evening shadows among a lineup of much-larger birds.
Another chicken, a Black Australorp, went to live with a group of pigs that were in the front pasture a few years ago. She could be seen pecking and scratching in and around the perimeter, and when the pigs were given their daily grain, she would run over and hop up to perch on the edge of the feeding trough and eat right along with them. At night, she would settle into the straw inside one of the pig huts, sometimes joined by one of the sows.
Then one bleak winter day, she disappeared. And the pigs, well, let’s just say they looked a little guilty…
Last summer, our personal hen Little Red started crowing. Now I’ve been around chickens for a long time, and that was the first time I had ever heard a hen crow. Our rooster Raymond had recently died (he lost a great battle with something – a fox, perhaps), and Little Red had gone broody and hatched herself a chick. I woke up one morning to the sound of her crowing. I stood at the window watching her – I could hardly believe it. I suppose that, being a new parent and feeling protective, she decided to adopt the role of rooster in Raymond’s absence.