True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meet the Girls: HATSY

....continued from previous post:  Change o' Peking order  

Why is it that grandma-names suit chickens so well? 
We never did figure out what breed Hatsy is.  When my friend and I ordered chicks, we were sent a baker's dozen.. I think Hatsy was the extra chick -- some kind of hybrid. 

She outgrew her cuteness very quickly. She started to look like a little hawk.  I was afraid she might be a boy.


...but she wasn't---

Hatsy started laying eggs a whole month before the other girls.
Eggs came flyin' out of her like crazy.  She didn't miss a day, for months and months.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Hatsy was the flock's undisputed leader from the beginning.   
We call her our Little Dynamo.   
No grass grows under Hatsy's feet.

She's an excellent gardener.

She's a treasure hunter.

Can you find Hatsy in this picture?

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Hatsy's nonstop egg-laying did take its toll.      
It happened one summer evening -- the girls had been grazing in the garden, the sun was going down, Lil'White had already headed home to the coop.  I looked out the window and saw Hatsy and Lucy standing in the middle of the lawn.  Chickens can't see in the dark, and any chicken in her right mind heads for bed as soon as the sun sets.  I stepped outside to see what was up with these girls.

Hatsy was just standing there, asleep.  

Lucy was fine - she was keeping her friend company.   Hatsy barely opened her eyes when I scooped her up, and she let me carry her to the coop without the usual struggle.  Lucy followed us to the henhouse. I put Hatsy in, secured the coop, and left them for the night knowing that there must be something wrong but having no idea what it was.

In the nesting box the next day was the reason for Hatsy's odd behavior.
She had laid a pterodactyl egg.  It was the biggest egg I'd ever seen.

She had several similar sleeping episodes over the following weeks, and each time she produced a monstrous egg.   Then she started laying soft eggs... then eggs with no shells... and then she started laying these hideous things that looked like chewed-up chewing gum.

It was clear that Hatsy's internal egg-machine had blown a gasket.
Eventually, Hatsy stopped laying anything at all.  I felt relieved for her, because she seemed to have had a lot of discomfort,  maybe even pain, for several months.  

But the end of egg-laying was not the end of her troubles. 

 Winter came to New England, and in the middle of a cold snap Hatsy molted.    The floor of the henhouse looked as if a chicken had exploded.  Hatsy lost her tail feathers, most of her wing feathers, and a whole lot of down.  She looked like a half-plucked oven-stuffer-roaster.  

I rigged up a heat lamp in the coop for her, and she spent most of her time huddled under it,  so close to the hot red bulb that I thought I might as well come out and baste her.   

One day while Hatsy stood shivering outside in the coop,  I watched Lucy hobble over and smoosh her voluptuous black-and-white plumage against her skinny little friend. She was keeping her warm. 
The two stood there.  

I almost cried.  


  1. AWWW!! That does make me about cry! I am sending Hatsy lots of love and hope that Spring brings better times for her.
    (PS - the line about "might as well come out and baste her" made me laugh out loud!)

  2. I love that story, and I really love the pictures (your drawings especially. I could use the find Hatsy picture for my camouflage lesson :o) You have GOT to do something with this. It is awesome! I am sending a link to Scratch and Peck to my friend Kim McEligot. She's a teacher as well, we have been friends for years, she was Spencer's preschool teacher. She will love this.

  3. Wow, such a touching story Lauren!! When is your book coming out?

  4. It's probably too late to tell you thins Lauren, but if you're like me, you dislike unsolved mysteries. Hatsy was what is commonly called a Golden Sex Link. In other parts of the country they can be referred to as Red Stars, Red Sex Link and Gold Stars as well. Yes, they are a cross breeding for the express purpose of determining sex at hatching. Just thought you'd like to know. Thank you so much for telling her story. She was such a magnificent creature. For those of us who keep and know the wonderful personalities of Golden Sex Link hens first hand, her story strikes a deep chord within us. I still miss my Lacey

  5. Awwww Thanks for writing that story and for the cutest little drawings. Your creativeness comes from the heart.