At one stage, we had over 50 ex battery hens. They were so gentle, and I admit - I talked to them. The Machinist took over my role as Chief Hen Feeder and he, too, began talking to them. Nowadays, we have one Rhode Island hen, and she is scraggly looking, seeing as it is time for her moult. I cannot bare to leave her alone in her (Rolls Royce) hen house, so I let her stroll the garden. She loves to climb the steps to the back deck and resume her roll as top of the pecking order. No more thieving magpies and no more kitties;; - they've migrated to the front of the house and guard it with a passion.
There are so many detailed things one has to do in the morning, sometimes, too petty to even mention. One that always makes me smile, however, is the ice-cracking of the water in the communal bowl. The dogs and the hen drink thirstily and peacefully together when the ice is removed or we've exchanged the cold water for luke warm. The hen then has first dibs on the dog food, throwing her scrawny neck back at each picking.
The Machinist asked me the other day if I thought we should get some more hens. Knowing us, I replied that it would be better to wait and allow the Lone Hen to savour her days without the introduction of potentially new upstarts. When we have a large flock, producing more work and cost we declare we shall have no more, but again, knowing us, we never do anything in halves.