Chickens live in flocks. They tend to wander around in groups, led by a rooster. They are not solitary animals.
Our Rhode Island Red hen Lucy has chosen, however, to be a nonconformist. For reasons unknown to us, a few months ago she decided to strike out on her own. She wanders alone. She refuses to roost in the henhouse with the other chickens, preferring instead to roost on the steering wheel of my tractor, depositing her droppings onto the tractor seat. She lays her eggs in a nest she’s made in our equipment shed. And they are whoppers. Her eggs are nearly double the size of the others our hens are laying.
Lucy’s rebellious life does create some challenges for her. In the winter there isn’t much for chickens to forage, and she won’t go in the henhouse where we put out the feed. So Lucy improvises, poaching animal feed in the barn, finding seeds in the stacks of hay bales, and stealing catfood off the front porch, as shown in the photo above.
We have the Alcatraz of henhouses. It is on blocks, locked tight at night, and surrounded by electric fence. Our hens are about as safe from nocturnal predators as they could reasonably be. But not Lucy. Every night she braves the owls and possums. For a while we’d carry her into the henhouse at night. But eventually we just gave up.
So she takes her chances, and does her own thing.
Good for her.
P.S. And now, on the very eve of her 15 minutes of fame, Lucy has moved back in with the flock. For the past few days she has been hanging with the other girls. This morning, when I opened the henhouse, there was Lucy, as if nothing had ever happened. And the whopper eggs are gone too. Go figure. She’s done this once before, so maybe she just likes a little sabbatical now and then.