Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lost and Found Betty

Every story has a beginning, and this story begins with a chick named Lady Betty Orpington. She came to live at Garage Mahal when she was only a few days old. In less than a few days she became everyone's sweetheart, a small and docile girl with a disposition as sunny as her feathers. And easy to catch. Being easy to catch makes any hen a favorite.

Sweet little Betty. And we remember Lola and Pip and Amelia... each with their own chica tale.

Fun little Betty.

Regal Betty.

Betty even became a feature model in Calamity Kim's original art pieces and a lovely apron.

We were so sad as we slowly realized that Betty's best friend, Amelia, was actually a hombre.

Oh dear.
What are these?
Fantam the Bantam and Buttercup, aka Frida. We brought them home to fill the void left by Lola's death, and Pip and Amelia's parting to Rooster Ranch.
What a pair of freaky fowl.
What was I thinking?

I could have left well enough alone. We could have let Betty reign supreme, queen of her coop. But I thought she would be lonesome. I thought she would crave the company of feathered sisters.

Fast forward. We are living in this very unranchy rental home, with too small a yard for farming and livestock. The three hens are large and energetic. They like to get out and roam, scratch, peck, hunt, forage, dig, excavate, vocalize. They make their presence known, believe me. I have been troubleshooting and patiently, hopefully managing, keeping things under control until we can get in to our own place... a dream home where nothing too difficult ever happens.

The latest antics has been full blown cock hen-fighting in the coop and even out in the yard. It's become so brazen that I have finally witnessed the main event: Frida and Fantam tag team wrestling against Lady Betty Orpington. It's way more than establishing a pecking order. It's ugly. It's mean and unlady-like. And I think it's why we could not find Betty last Saturday. We looked for hours. We walked the neighborhood, calling her name. We shook the scratch can. We eyed the cats suspiciously and searched the sky for fat hawks.

I cried. I know stuff happens to chickens. I know a farmer has to come to terms with these sort of things, but I cried anyway. I had spent the entire day working on the yard, reseeding the lawn and clearing out junk... coping with our Garage Mahal Rental fate and it was very defeating to think I had lost our best chica.

Maria found Betty.

Maria and Betty are likes peas in a pod. Sort of. Maria is very good at catching hold of Betty. Betty has been hiding, when she can, from those dear feathered sisters of hers.

Oh look out!
Here comes Frida now!
She's mean.
She pecks.
She chases me, going for my ankles.
I tell her "I'm going to park your booty in a KFC bucket!" but she don't care.

And here is Fantam, hogging the nest. She doesn't peck me or chase me, but she is not sharing the nest for anything and she is the most aggressive in the all chica wrestling showdowns. She pulls Betty's feathers, jumps on her and chases her. I figured all of this selfish and mean behavior accounted for the low egg count. I figured wrong.

Maria could not tell us where she found Betty, but yesterday I found a clue. Up on the wall, where the blackberries and tropical plants grow, I saw a lovely egg. Obvious... of course Betty is still laying. She's laying and hiding... herself and her cache.

Another clue, and...


Hello Betty.
All clear?
No sisters around?
Yes, I locked them up, so you can relax.

Who let you out?
Back you freaky fowl!

Hey Frida! Come here. I wanna show you something. How would you like to live with April at Coal Creek Farm?

Yeah. I thought that would get your attention.

Don't worry Betty. We'll figure something out.


nikkipolani said...

Who knew Betty would have such an adverturesome life! I hope she feels some relief knowing that you are aware of her distress. Hugs to Betty!

campbellgirl said...

Oh! Poor sweet Lady Betty! Poor Natalie's toes! (just had to laugh at that pic I'm afraid!) Those other chicas might have the most beautiful feathers but they're MEAN girls. That Frida even has a MEAN face! Put her in a POT!!!

{{{{hugs}}}} to Betty from me too.

Em said...

Oh, I'm so glad you found Betty!!! I don't know what I would do if ours went missing. I hope your other chicas will be nicer to her, but I'm afraid that the longer she stays seperated, the more mean they'll be when she returns. Poor girl!!!

Julie said...

Sadness, suspense, surprise, comedy, cute little birdies and a happy ending...Ahhh. :) What a wonderful tale! (love the chickie castle, btw!)

Tonia said...

Oh, pretty, pretty Betty! I am so sad they aren't playing nice with you!

d.a. said...

Chicken stock, chicken soup, chicken and dumplings... oh, hello Frida & Fantam! We were just talking about you!

Anonymous said...

You know, with a name like Lady Orpington, you would think she would rule the roost!


Laura Jane said...

When chicas decide to gang up on someone thay can get REALLY mean!

No wonder Betty is trying to establish her own colony...poor baby.

Carolyn @ My Backyard Eden said...

Poor Betty! I hope you can get things worked out. I have a very small yard and think I have finally convinced my husband that chickens are a good idea. My friend's daughter who raises 4H chickens told me that they really do gang up on each other, especially if you add a couple of chickens who "know" each other to a single gal. I'm pulling for Betty!

Anonymous said...

Lady Betty is a class act. Even if she wasn't born to rule, she has a lot of grace under fire.

This post is a classic, by the way.


Julie said...

Ah, Natalie, I love reading chickenblog! This post is an all-time fave!

Julie in Seattle

tara said...

I see a children's book in this great story.
The pic of the chicken evil eye is awesome.

Kim said...

Enjoying your chickens. I don't have the heart to butcher, so we have too many ducks running around.