On a regular trip to the feed store over a year ago, I fell in love. Of course, I entered the feed store with blinders on. It was Spring. Signs of new life were everywhere. The leaf buds on the trees were bursting open. The air was fresh and clean, charged with new life. New little chicks filled the temporary brooders. I had guessed it wouldn’t hurt to hold just one of the Silver Laced Wyandottes. As I held her and shopped she feel asleep in my warm hands. I stalled. I looked at waterers, feeders, supplements, treats, wound care, antibiotics, everything to delay the inevitable of returning her to the brooder. It was clear, I was going home with a new chick. I would add her to the flock of little freshly hatched Silkies in my brooder in the garage. And so it went. I placed her in among her new brothers and sisters and her surrogate mother, Dolly, and watched as the family grew. Rather instantaneously they got along famously.
Yesterday, I had time to catch up with a chicken friend and chat for a while. Of course, the conversation would not be complete without me asking about Dottie Speckles. The thing I love about my friend, who has been keeping chickens for over 45 years, is that she has a huge heart for animals. She rescues horses and often has a menagerie of roosters in need of new homes living among her and her beloved farm animals. Her place is a sanctuary filled with warmth.
She told me that Dottie Speckles has now settled into her new home. She is living with a few breeds including a pair of Polish and some Silkies. She has ample space, six nesting boxes at various heights and roosts galore. Yet now that she is comfortable in her new home, she is asserting her dominance. The worst part, is that even with a change of scenery, change of flock and change of space, Dottie Speckles is still mean. She deliberately is attacking chickens that are not even in her vicinity but in her field of vision. She runs to them and attacks them for no apparent reasons. She is pulling feathers from the Silkies. She terrorizes them all. My friends tells me she has never seen a hen behave this way or be so mean.
Unfortunately I’m can’t say that I am surprised. We both agree that she is an incredibly beautiful hen and lays a lovely brown egg. My friend says that she is going to keep her, yet possibly make some more adaptations to her living quarters. For now, everyone can escape from her wrath. I’m not quite sure what makes a hen this way. I guess the reality is that just like with humans, this can and does happen in chickens.
I have met many beautiful people in my life like Dottie Speckles. Yet, they have hearts of coal and ruthless personalities. For no apparent reasons, they do their best to attack the innocent, prey on the weak and make others around them walk on eggshells. I have also met people who appear at first plain and because of their personalities are some of the most beautiful people that I know. I think my eight year old son said it best when I was relaying how Dottie Speckles is doing on the ride home from school yesterday, ” I guess, it’s just like judging a book by it’s cover. She’s a bully. Don’t worry Mom, I get it.” I never thought that I would have chickens help me to raise my children by sharing this sort of lesson. I guess I was wrong.
Dottie Speckles will turn 1 year old April 10th.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest