If you have read this blog for any length of time you know of our on-going laying hen angst. We lost a bundle a year ago to a predator, bought a dozen chicks whose lodging in our very home kicked this blog off late last fall. Those chicks grew and became dinner for the bob cat I love to hate, the animal that has finally inspired me to learn to shoot. (That’s going well, by the way.)
That same bob cat finally got Henny Penny and Harriet, the two three-year-old hens who decided to live out their final days roosting in trees rather than in the safety of their hen house.
Henny was particularly special to all of us. She was the official favorite, a bit ditzy looking in part because of her small frame and her somewhat uncoordinated nature. No one else talks about this, but I expect she was our favorite because she reminded us of our long-ago cat, Marietta. Marietta was also white, skinny, and uncoordinated. You would think nature would get these sorts of animals first, but both long out-lived any projections, a sign that they were not likely ditzy after all.
With the activity of the bob cat this summer, we bought a new batch of chicks that proceeded to get eaten by a neighborhood cat. We had all but given up on any more birds when we found one remaining Rhode Island Red chick wandering around outside, three days after the cat attack. She needed friends.
In late July after a business meeting, I stopped by a small nursery in a tiny Central California town and asked if they had chicks.
Indeed they did.
I came home with fifteen chicks, a combination of Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas, and White Leghorns. The whites were a little larger than the others and the nice young girl at the feed store said
“These are from last week’s order.”
Immediately, along with our five year old son, we called the whites “The Henny Pennys” and the Araucanas “The Harriets.” These birds were a tribute to those three old girls who chose freedom over safety and slept in an old oak tree.
We visited the chicks frequently in their hen house and perhaps loved them too much. At least that will be Frederick’s story as he grows up, I expect. He’s five and he didn’t really believe that their necks were delicate. That particular event in early August probably hit me at a bit of a moment of insanity and also inspired quite a number of unsubscribes from this blog. (If you do not want to read about what happens when children kill animals around here, do not follow that link.)
We lost our first Henny Penny to my son’s hand in early August. The second died a couple of weeks later. From her first week here, her backside swelled up and she wobbled around, so we always wondered what in the heck was up with her. We found her dead on the hen house floor.
We are left with one “Henny Penny.”
The New Henny Penny: Henny the Huge
If the old Henny Penny was sympathetic because of her frame and lack of coordination, the new Henny Penny is also sympathetic because of her frame and lack of coordination.
At some point along the way we came to the conclusion that I did not bring three White Leghorns home from the feed store that day.
She’s at least a triple D.
This large-breasted hen reminds me, first, of Pamela Anderson and, second, of me pregnant.
Pamela Anderson has made herself an expert of sorts on birds with large breasts in her Kentucky Fried Chicken video at the Kentucky Fried Cruelty website.
Pamela Anderson recognizes the basic physics problem we encounter when we are endowed with particularly large breasts.
“Their weak legs cannot support their heavy chests,” she claims in the video.
And this is where the Henny The Huge’s coordination problems come in. Henny The Huge is able to walk and does not have the problems with falling or broken bones that you see in the Kentucky Fried Cruelty videos. But she certainly does not walk like the rest of the birds in the hen house.
She acts much more like I did when I was about eight months pregnant. She takes a few uneasy steps and then sits to rest for a few minutes. When I bring the chicks new food, she does have plenty of energy and coordination to get to the grub, much like me at eight months.
But over the last few weeks, her breasts have become large and so defined that I wonder if she can possibly get any bigger. I do remember running out of letters in the alphabet while shopping for postpartum support garments, so I feel like I have some authority to comment on this matter.
And from that point of authority, it is also true that just when you think you can get no bigger, you can. Just give it a few cookies or another baby and nature will find a way.
This basic fact of physiology makes us realize that we need to make a decision about Henny.
Henny The Huge’s Fate
After some weeks of my mother claiming “That’s no White Leghorn,” I have to agree.
“So what are we going to do with it?” I asked one evening as I climbed out of my deep hole of fall season contract work.
Poor Henny The Huge was probably not meant to grow into old age and roost in the trees like her predecessor. She would need some powerful wings to get those breasts up there anyway.
“Well, they are bred for meat. We need to eat it.” My mom replied.
Mom’s response caught me off-guard because, save the FFA show pig in high school I named Anemone, I have never actually eaten an animal I have raised. I certainly haven’t raised, slaughtered, and eaten an animal before.
“I do know how to dress it out,” I responded. The adults sighed knowingly remembering the first time I dressed out a bird on this property. (That is the same link as the one above that came with heavy warnings.)
So It looks like Henny The Huge will be dinner one of these evenings, probably using our whole roast chicken recipe. Perhaps she will be our answer to a 100-Mile Thanksgiving. I always enjoy an all-natural roasted chicken breast. Perhaps I will invite Pamela over for a dinner.