When we bought Lovey the hen at a chicken show back in January, she was a beautifully groomed show chicken. The lovely tuft of feathers on her head made her irresistible to Junior and me. We had to take her home. She is a White-Crested Black Polish chicken; Polish are known for their crowns of feathers, which also prevent them from seeing too well. I suspect that Lovey had not spent a lot of time outside of an indoor pen. She was not worldly. She lacked skills. You can see her remarkable hair-do in the photo, below left.
When it rains, the hair-do is not so easy to maintain. And when a beauty queen has been totally corrupted by a free-spirit Blue Orpington named Fuzzy, the crest really suffers. Fuzzy, our other hen, has taught Lovey this: try to get out of the coop and free-range at all costs. When you see a person/chicken servant coming out of the house, pace back and forth by the gate of the run in a dramatic fashion because people exist to feed you and otherwise enable your constant eating. When it rains, stand out in the bad weather and let your hair-do get ruined because there's a remote chance someone may let you out to look for bugs and other delights. Also, if you lay an egg, go ahead and step on it with your muddy feet, because who cares?
And thus, we have a situation depicted on the right. After yesterday's heavy rains, today is dry and Lovey's crest will spring back to life, but some of the dirt remains. I think this means and Junior and I are going to have to give her a shampoo one day soon. Having shed her show-chicken ways, Lovey does seem to enjoy worm-hunting and hanging out with Fuzzy; she now scratches in the dirt with abandon. Still, I feel a little like we turned Miss America into a commune-loving hippie.
Readers who enjoy chicken picture books (and, really, who doesn't?) should look for Big Chickens Fly the Coop, written by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Henry Cole. It's a very silly story about four hens who take some risks in their desire to get out and about. They all agree about how nice it is to stay home until one says, "We would always stay home...except...we've always wanted to see the farmhouse." And off they go. I'm going to keep this one in mind for a preschool read-aloud. Preschoolers love a raucous good time, which these girls definitely have.