Against the Odds

Welsummer @ 11 yrs.

Monday, April 19, 2021 (Eight days before Pink Moon rises nearest to earth)

My last surviving hen, Welsummer, has outlived all others in my chicken flock. On impulse, in 2010, I brought home a dozen day-old chicks from a feed store. In those days, as a recent transplant from Los Angeles to Central Oregon, I found a country-like environment highly enjoyable. Eager to immerse myself in new adventures, I couldn’t bypass cute tiny chicks.

The growing babies were fun, offered lots of learning and provided too many eggs. Observing hens encouraged me to start identifying wild birds by sight and sound. Eventually, my bird life gained some inside talking-types, Quaker Parrots.

About my hens, unlike the common knowledge, each was smart and had an individual personality. Their behaviors singularly and as a group were fascinating. In five or six years, they aged, laid fewer eggs, and eventually began wilting before soon passing away.

I fought losing each hen, sought veterinary help, tried to prevent each from failing but couldn’t. Modern domestic chickens aren’t bred to live much past their laying years when generally they become unwanted.

Bird people know that birds well-cared-for can live for many years.

Now, I’ve only Welsummer who’s well beyond her egg-laying days. She appears healthy, shares space with my twin goats, looks terrific, is excited when I show up, eats well and behaves normally.

Well, almost. Here’s what I discovered yesterday in the goat house:

Actually, a few weeks previously she had laid an egg. Our friend, Susie, and I were offering treats to Welsummer who ignored us–very unusual. She looked stressed and worried me greatly. Suddenly, from her an egg dropped. It was unformed, she eagerly devoured it, and Susie snapped pictures.

As Kathrine Hepburn tended to remark, “Who can say, who can say?” I will remark that today for breakfast, I’ll enjoy a beautiful fresh blue egg.

Dear Friends: May this hen keep outliving the average survival years for domestic chickens! Diana

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