The Red Baron

I don’t often name chickens – not only are they too delightfully stupid to respond to a personal name, but it is very much harder to eat something with a name!

But I did end up with a few named hens.

There was Diogenes, who when injured once was quite submissive about being handled and boxed up and taken to the vet (turning in one fell stroke from a $6 hen to a $101 hen), so I named her after Diogenes, a philosopher in the early Stoic school.

There was the Freak, who had a bald anterior surface to her neck because she herself used to pluck her own feathers and eat them, and the eggs she laid were about the same weight as the other girls’ eggs but were very much longer and thinner, with almost a right-angled bend at one end of them. When they were cracked, her yolks were always wider than the entire eggs had been beforehand.

There was Julie McCrossin, so called because she was an attractive and likeable high-profile lesbian: she used to jump on stumps, feed-buckets and the like and try to crow making an indescribable noise, and cuddled with the other girls in the dust-wallow.

And then there was the Red Baron. What can I say about the Red Baron? I suppose we are all familiar with the Red Baron of yore, a German fighter-pilot with a distinctively-painted plane. Mine was a little red hen, and also an aviator of some note.

Due to my leaving the gate open once, she discovered the delicious delights of my veggie patch in the other part of the yard, containing everything from mulch, to bugs to tender young veggie plants. What hen could resist?

I caught all the girls and put them back in the chicken-run. The Red Baron, however, remembered, showing uncommon intelligence and brain-power for a creature who, after all, was just a bird-brain. Over some time, she discovered her Inner Bird (okay, so she might have met my house-galah and developed an idea or two), and in time she did a Wilbur-and-Orville, and developed Flight. She’d fly up to the top of the gate, over head-high to me, then fly down into the veggie patch. She became an intrepid daily aviator. Once I chased her, and she flew twice the length of the whole property, soaring and turning like an eagle at low-altitude.

There was a reason we called her the Red Baron. She truly deserved her name.

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