A Thankful Hen

My free range hen has much to be thankful for.

When you hear the term “free range," you automatically think of the classic definition: poultry being allowed to roam outside to find bugs, weeds and other tasty morsels. This arrangement, being in the pasture, makes our birds extremely happy. A recent incident, though, has given this particular hen a whole new meaning to the term “free range.”  

About a month ago, one of my young barred rock hens was grabbed by a dog. We were close by when it happened and were able to quickly intervene. Another half a minute and she would've been dead.  Her injuries were serious: the skin on her back was stripped away and her muscles were torn. I brought her to the house immediately to care for her wounds and keep watch over her. A large dog crate in my living room became her new home, keeping her protected from dirt, debris and flies that could cause infection. 

We put the dog crate next to the kitchen stove where there would be the least amount of draft from the air conditioning vents. The hen soon discovered that she could see her reflection in the oven. Poultry always do better when they have a companion and she was pretty happy about her new friend. After several weeks, her wounds were partially healed and she was beginning to get cabin fever. Wanting her to get a little time away from her hospital room, I began to let her roam in the kitchen area with supervision. She was thrilled to be able to “free range” around the room and spend time with her new stove friend.

When hens are ill or injured, all of their energy goes into the healing process and they will stop laying eggs for several months. I really didn't expect her to recover from her injuries, let alone be able to start laying again. Apparently this bird has a strong constitution and will to survive, as I am happy to report that she laid an egg yesterday, one month from being injured! 

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I am grateful for my little hen who continues to surprise me and beat the odds. And I'm pretty sure she is thankful too!