Onesy: The Little Hen That Could

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sayle mar12 onesy.jpg

Photo by Carol Ann Sayle



Only in her chick-hood, "Onesy," a little red hen, survived the skunk attack that resulted in the death and disappearance of many of her sisters. But Onesy lost something in the middle-of-the-night skirmish: her right eye. Oh, it's in there somewhere on the side of her head, slightly visible after the horrible swelling went down behind a veil of regrown skin. But it would take surgery to liberate the eye, and who knows if such a second trauma would give her sight.

Onesy makes do by turning her head as she walks or flies, so she can see what she's walking or flying into. A chicken, you see, has limited frontal vision, but excellent side vision, thanks to two opposing eyes.

She is suddenly more accepted in the Sisterhood of the Hens.

While Onesy has lost some of her abilities, she has gained an ally in me. She is my little friend. I hand-feed her every morning, as she cautiously avoids the popular feed pan, fearing that the older hens will peck her on her blind side. (The "pecking order" is the law in the hen house).

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Photo by Jen Reel

Choosing to be above the fray, she flies up to the top of the trash can that stores the feed, sometimes falling if she miscalculates the landing. Then I pick her up and set her upon the lid. She makes no squawk, as she knows that my hands are trustworthy. Often, with the lid off the can, she eats in the privacy of the can itself. And she has grown. Once a runt compared to her three surviving sisters, she is now almost as large.

And today, at seven months of age, she laid her first little egg. A brown one, small, but golden-yolked. She is suddenly more accepted in the Sisterhood of the Hens of the Hen House, as she is finally performing her duty, paying her rent. Thus, the peckings will lessen, but still, and I'm so glad, I am her favorite "hen."

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Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

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