My Best Chicken Story:
Wesley, Who Wasn’t Supposed To
Wesley wasn’t supposed to have hatched. He was meant to be decorative. I ordered two dozen unfertile eggs for a Mother’s Day centerpiece from a local chicken farmer who didn’t have change for $10. To sweeten the $5/dozen price tag, Noah added a couple blue eggs to one dozen, and a couple quail eggs to the other. I watched him take the blue eggs from the coop with the rooster. My first thought was how lovely my tables would look with the light blue eggs. My second thought was those fluffy omelets I would make after using the eggs on my table. Then my chicken math kicked in, and I realized the blue eggs were probably fertile. I had never hatched eggs before, but this was clearly providential. My two pet chickens were ready for some friends. The eggs were supposed to be a Mother’s Day decoration, but I figured I might as well hatch them. And I did.
Wesley hatched, but he wasn’t supposed to be a pullet. After all, he was named Wesley after the male hero of my husband’s and my favorite movie, Princess Bride. And Buttercup, the yellow puffball we hatched along with him, was clearly his girlfriend. I did not have a rooster and I rather wanted one to potentially discourage the neighborhood hawks. Wesley and Buttercup were the friendliest and most curious chickens we hatched. They hung out together and found their way back to each other several times an hour, except when Wesley could find his way onto one of our shoulders. Buttercup drew the line there. She watched from a perch on a knee and wondered at Wesley’s audacity.
Wesley never got over her preference for shoulders. Whenever my husband Bill or I were out in the backyard gardening or reading or inspecting the irrigation system, Wesley found his way to his favorite shoulder perch. Bill and I found it somewhat charming until one lovely summer day when he was perched on Bill’s shoulder, glorying in her 6’1” vantage point. Bill looked up at him to ask if he would consider moving to another spot, and he, apparently not adhering to Christ’s injunction to not notice the speck in other’s eyes, tried to peck the tiny red spot (i.e., blood vessel) out of Bill’s eye.
Bill came into the house complaining that he was hen-pecked. What’s new, I mused, until I saw his reddened eye. Fortunately Wesley was delicate about his peck and missed any part of Bill’s eye that could have caused serious damage. A little antibiotic and some eyedrops later, Bill was back out in the garden, and Wesley was back on our shoulders.
All was well until chaos erupted in the coop. Buttercup started to crow and Wesley started to lay. It would have been lovely if the eggs she laid were blue, like the egg she hatched from. But like everything else Wesley did, her eggs were not what they were supposed to be. Wesley’s little pinkish brown eggs stand out from her friends’ tint and brown eggs, but not quite as much as we had hoped.
Our dear Wesley—she wasn’t supposed to hatch, wasn’t supposed to be a pullet, wasn’t supposed to lay pink eggs—what else is she not supposed to be? Dinner?