My Favourite

Julie Moore ex­plains how she de­vel­oped a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with one of her hens

Your Chickens - - Front Page -

With Julie Moore

Mignon came into my life quite by ac­ci­dent. I first met her on one of my cock­erel swap­ping es­capades with my friendly neigh­bour, Daniel.

Af­ter set­ting down my cock­erel, Daniel pointed out my ‘swap’ —a naked neck pul­let. Sur­vey­ing his me­lange of chick­ens, ducks, geese and rab­bits, Daniel sud­denly sprung into ac­tion (no mean feat for some­one who has an un­de­ni­able lik­ing for duck con­fit), mak­ing for a scrawny black ban­tam hen. Squawk­ing and protest­ing pro­fusely at be­ing caught in such a man­ner, the hen was thrust into my arms. There was an im­me­di­ate trans­for­ma­tion: I could feel her body re­lax as she snug­gled her­self into my chest. I was smit­ten by this scruffy lit­tle hen!

Putting her down, I agreed to re­turn the fol­low­ing morn­ing. I spent the night won­der­ing whether I would of­fend Daniel if I asked whether I could take the ban­tam in­stead of the pul­let he’d ear­marked for me.

When I ar­rived at the al­lot­ted hour, a card­board box was wait­ing for me. Be­fore I could fin­ish my greet­ings, the ban­tam was caught and thrust un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously into the box. With­out time to ob­ject, Daniel smiled, “She’s a spe­cial hen. I know you’ll look af­ter her.” With a pro­fu­sion of “Merci’s,” I left with my trea­sures.

Mignon and her friend were con­signed to the field. It wasn’t long be­fore Mignon had other ideas as to where she should live. Ir­ri­tated no doubt by be­ing picked on by the larger birds, she squeezed her­self through the fence and quickly re­alised that the lit­tle bridge cross­ing the stream led to my house. I’d find Mignon wait­ing for me in the court­yard. De­spite putting her back in the field, I soon tired of her game as she re­lent­lessly re­turned. I sur­ren­dered and she be­came one of the first res­i­dents of Chicken Cot­tage, along with her faith­ful rooster, Tiger.

I gave her a home and love. That love was re­turned in an un­ri­valled friend­ship.

Not long af­ter Mignon’s ar­rival, I was un­well. I took Mignon with me to a cov­ered out­door area. With Mignon on my chest, her feath­ers touch­ing my face, I fell asleep on a lounger. Three hours later, I awoke to find Mignon still sit­ting on me and she hadn’t pooped! That was the real be­gin­ning of our re­la­tion­ship.

I en­listed Mignon’s help in the veg­etable plot. She was in her el­e­ment, spend­ing time work­ing with me, ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the tasty morsel my fork might re­veal. She had an un­der­stand­ing of where she should and shouldn’t dig and al­ways gave newly sown ar­eas a wide berth. She had a weak­ness for straw­ber­ries though — if caught, she’d just flash her big eyes at me as if to say, “Not me!”, I never got cross with her.

Mignon loved my com­pany. She’d spend hours wait­ing be­neath the rose bush in the court­yard, scur­ry­ing as fast as her lit­tle legs would al­low when I opened the front door. Whether I sat on a chair or the ground, she would phys­i­cally push her body against my an­kle or thigh to touch me — be­ing in close prox­im­ity clearly wasn’t enough. Sit­ting on my lap was shear bliss — it never took her long to doze off! I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced any an­i­mal con­tin­u­ally seek­ing out my com­pany as Mignon did — a bond de­vel­oped be­tween us. I joked that she was the chicken who thought she was hu­man…

Mignon crossed her rain­bow bridge ear­lier this year — de­spite be­ing dev­as­tated, I know that her spirit is still with me. For weeks af­ter­wards, no hen would roost on her spot — it was as though they were ex­pect­ing her to walk through the door at any mo­ment. Chicken Cot­tage still seems empty with­out her.

Mignon taught me many of life’s lessons, par­tic­u­larly never to judge peo­ple or an­i­mals. Ap­pear­ances can be de­cep­tive; it’s what’s be­neath the skin that mat­ters. Whilst many would have dis­missed Mignon on her ap­pear­ance alone, I gave her a home and love. That love was re­turned in an un­ri­valled friend­ship. Thank you, Mignon, for com­ing into my life.

That love was re­turned in an un­ri­valled friend­ship

Mignon was spe­cial...

ABOVE: Firm pals... BE­LOW: Julie said: “Thank you, Mignon, for com­ing into my life.”

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