Natural Perspectives: Finally, there's harmony in the henhouse

October 12, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Chicken Little searches for grain and bugs in the new fenced area, with Miss Hillary in back on the left and Henrietta in back on the right.
Chicken Little searches for grain and bugs in the new fenced… (Lou Murray, HB Independent )

It's been a few weeks since Vic and I updated you on our adventures in keeping chickens. And, yes, there have been developments in that regard.

When we last left this story, we had acquired a new barred rock hen to replace the late Henny Penny. Late as in "deceased," not late as in "tardy."

And it was from natural causes. We didn't eat her.

Sometime after Henny Penny's demise, her two teammates, Chicken Little and Henrietta, quit laying. Egg production was way down. I was looking forward to eggs from our new young hen, but she ceased laying two days after we got her.

We soon learned why. Like Henrietta, she's molting her feathers. It will be a couple of months before she's ready to lay again. Is there no end to our chicken woes?

Fortunately for the new gal, she has a winning personality. Not that chickens have much personality. The extent of her charm is that she allows me to pick her up.


She's a very friendly girl, I suspect, because she was petted by children at Centennial Farm at the O.C. Fairgrounds, where she came from. She has such a sweet disposition that I wanted to name her Sweetpea. Vic vetoed that name.

Vic and I owned another barred rock hen about 25 years ago and called her Rocky. But our new hen was too sweet for such a tough name. I began to free associate with her breed name, barred rock, to see if I could come up with a name for her.

The first thing that popped into my head was Little Rock, Ark. The second thing was Hillary Clinton. But I didn't really want to name my chicken after our nation's former First Lady and present secretary of state.

But then Hurricane Hillary came up from Mexico, bringing us some sprinkles. At about that time, I read the book "The Help," which had a character named Miss Hilly. These things seemed to be giving me a sign. I put it all together and came up with a name for our new hen: Miss Hillary.

Chicken Little took an instant dislike to Miss Hillary and harassed her mercilessly. To solve the problem, I built a second enclosure for the new girl. But the new pen was just a fenced area, open on the top, and didn't protect her from the elements or the night critters. It didn't take the possums long to figure out that they could get to the chicken feed in the new pen.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles