It has been about a week since, in desperation, I pulled the little red hen out of the hell hole where her sisters wanted to tear her limb from limb and I put her into her own little pen in the barn. The good news is that she is plumping back up and her feathers have once again begun sprouting in a ridge around her stump of a tail and her bare back. With no one to pluck them out, they are forming rapidly and I hope to see the little tufts appear on the ends soon.
I am doing my best to tame Red. She is no longer spending her days cowering in fear, and I think she is becoming accustomed to her own personal supply of food, water, and little surprise treats every day. I am still cautious about reaching into the pen because she is quick to peck my hand if she can. The snow has melted away by the warm gusting winds this week, so I have been putting Red back out into the vegetable garden for exercise. She spends the time running back and forth along the fence, looking for her flock. I guess even the more trying family relationships are better than being left all alone. I’m going to keep her sequestered until she no longer looks like a helpless target.
She still runs from me when I go to pick her up, and it makes me feel frustrated and foolish trying to catch her. I took out a bushel and placed some corn inside, thinking she’d hop in and I could lift her out that way. It turns out that when she lands on the edge it tips over and scares her, so now she won’t even try. I thought it was pretty ingenious how she stood on her tippy-toes and stretched that chicken neck clear over the top to peck up the corn without tipping the basket. It also gave her a better chance to run clear of me if I tried to grab her.
I wonder if she’ll come away from this experience a different chicken than she was before.