Actually, it's a miserable day around here today -- foggy, rainy, dark, dank, slippery oak leaves everywhere, a breeze that manages to blow every raindrop into your face. So it's not a particularly nice day for a self-respecting chicken to come visiting. But there she was this morning, shuffling around in the leaf piles next to the clubhouse, doing her own version of the two-step as she hunted for the occasional soggy bug -- our very own Rhode Island red hen.
I admit I was happy to see her. She hadn't put in an appearance since Thanksgiving, and I was beginning to worry that she had been the honored guest at a Thanksgiving dinner thrown by a little old lady who still knows how to twist a neck and pluck a feather. I sill worry about her, though. She doesn't seem to be the least bit afraid of cars, and the neighborhood has its share of big dogs on thin leashes held by 90-pound weaklings. Much as I am getting to like the neighborhood chicken, I wish she would stay safely at home!
Unless,of course, she is home, at least in her little chicken brain. Could she be bedding down in our shrubbery? Leaving her brown eggs hidden among the leaf piles? Maybe she heard about the family of eleven ducklings that became hand-fed pets of the entire condo community last summer. Is she hoping to get similar hand-outs from soft-hearted residents? Maybe! But even our own ducklings had sense enough to move on once the weather turned colder. The duck family doesn't seem to have moved far. They were possibly spotted over at the Baptist Church, which has a much bigger pond than we do -- one that is not nearly so likely to freeze over.
But our little red hen does not seem to have any such survival instinct. She just struts around, being a chicken. I understand that there are many advantages to free-range chickens, but most of those advantages have to do with the people who eat them. What about the free-ranging chicken herself? is she happier? Better fed? Inspired to lay more eggs? Or should we be looking for someone to take in our "rescue-chicken," who definitely seems to need a new "forever home."