This is Sophia, a beautiful Delaware hen, who we adopted from a big farm with over 200 chickens. She had a twisted back and neurological problems. She passed away 3 months ago on August 8th, 2012; this is her story.
When she first came to us, she was a fluffy, healthy and sweet little hen who acted like any normal chicken should. She ran around, dust bathed, chased bumble bee's around the yard, ate human scraps and chicken scratch to her little hearts content and layed us a egg daily. The only thing that made her life different from any other hens is that she had a twisted back. It made her run sideways, and fall over alot. She also had seizures. They would happen maybe 3 - 4 times a day. This was little concern to us, because she always got right back up and continued on like nothing had happened.
When we got her, she was 6 months old. She only lived to be a year old. And we enjoyed those wonderful 6 months with her, right to the end. She loved people, she loved to be around people all the time. She would run up to us when we walked outside, and bash right into our legs (I don't think she had all her brain cells hooked in right, but we didn't care.) She would look expectantly at our hands, until we brought her something out to eat.
When we first got her, she would jump up onto our deck and all we would hear was, "Thump, thump, thump" as she walked across. We nicknamed her "Big Foot"; because those big yellow feet of hers sounded like a T-Rex stomping its feet. I remember, she came up to me the first day we got her and started pecking at my shoe laces, and this kept her entertained for 10 minutes.
Her back was twisted, badly. We don't know how it got that way, maybe she was born with it, maybe she got stepped on one too many times as a chick. This picture above is how she looks when she's standing strait. (her neck was twisted as well.)
She loved our other animals. Trixie, our rabbit, was her favorite. She would stand there and cock her head from side to side and the bunny hopped around her pen. She would peck the hay from between the bars and peck at it playfully, while Trixie sat on the other side and watched her.
She loved her flock. Penny, our blind hen, was always with her. I remember how Sophia used to clean all the hens mouths, by pecking the dried up pieces of dirt off their beaks. She was the only hen who I've ever seen do it with such gentleness, there was no aggressive action from her, ever.
When she first got here, the pecking order was harsh on her. Whenever someone pecked her, she didn't fight back. She would lay low to the ground and make little peeping noises until they stopped. Then, after they went away, she'd get back up and go hobbling over to the bully hen and nuzzle her like she was her best friend.
Sophia loved food. Loved it. Its one of the many things that kept her going.
Sophia protected her flock. She stood guard over them when they were sleeping or resting. She once made the alarm call for a hawk, and once for a cat, before diving into a bush to hide. I would find her under that bush, looking up at me with those beautiful orange eyes that seemed to be saying, "I'm scared, but I trust you."
She's cleaning Penny's beak in the picture, eating the yogurt off of her, gently pecking it. Penny trusted her, as did her whole flock.
I remember this day. I had bought 2 hen saddles and put one on Sophia, and one on Abby. She was strutting around, fluffing her feathers, as if she was the cutest hen in town all of a sudden.
Even on rainy days, her spirits were up. No matter how many times she fell into that mud, she would get back up and start walking around sipping puddles and studying the sky as the rain poured down.
Gloria... the barred rock... chooses her own friends. She had no intention of Sophia sitting there, and probably pecked her a few times before I came over and took this shot, but you can just tell that Sophia wasn't taking no for a answer. She was going to sit there and snuggle her. Period.
2 months later, things took a turn for the worse. She now had seizures every 30 seconds. I didn't know what to do, if there was anything I could do. She would just lie in the grass and close her eyes for hours, not moving, but alive. She would eat and drink, but no longer walked around and did her chicken things.
She fell over all the time. She had seizures that were getting worse and worse. She was loosing weight. Her feathers stunk from laying in the dirt and poop so much. Yet, even when I would find her out in the yard, sprawled out on the ground, looking like she was dead.... she would open her eyes, those trusting eyes that said, "I'm okay. I trust you."
This picture was taken a day before she passed away. She was out in the yard, laying next to Gloria, nuzzling her. She had dirt and grime around her eye, no matter how many times I cleaned it. Her feathers were matted and smelly, no matter how many times I lifted her up. She was loosing weight, no matter how much I fed her. Her comb was pale and unhealthy looking, no matter how many times I put Vaseline on it or gave her Vet RX. Her poop was diarrhea constantly now. My poor girl was going through this all by herself, and there was nothing I could do.
This picture was taken the day she passed away. She hungrily ate all those blueberry's, then would lay back down. I patted her and sat out in the shade on this warm, august day. She closed her eyes and fell asleep on my lap. Sophia only lived to be one year old. She was one of the sweetest chickens I've ever owned.
"I trust you." - Bigfoot, R.I.P.