I didn’t set out to write this to be entertaining. Someone, somewhere is going through the same thing as me. This is basically a true story. We live in Harmony, Alabama. I am fifty-three years old and I retired early – very early, thanks to a good husband. We have two dogs that rescued us, Bowie and Farley. I have always loved chickens! There is something about the sweet noises they make and how busy they are from morning to evening and, of course, the free eggs. Last year, they passed a law that we can have four hens per yard. As soon as I found out I began to stalk the website, Backyard Chickens. I checked out books from the library. I talked to my cousin who raises chickens. I found a breeder who sold Lavender Orpingtons. These great big lavender hued chickens that are the golden retriever of chickens. I ordered six because a lot of books said some will die. It was early October, he wouldn’t have any available until mid-February. That’s cool, I can continue absorbing chicken knowledge and my husband has more time to build “Cluckingham Palace”. Perhaps because I can’t have children, I go a bit overboard with my pets. I refused to order chickens online and have them shipped to me. I am a big believer in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. This includes animals. So, I drove three hours to pick up my new babies. I met the breeder at a feed store in a small town. I noticed that two were yellow, two were white, one was dark gray, and one was brown. Unfortunately, as I obtained my chicken knowledge it never occurred to me to look at actual pictures of baby chickens. “Sir, shouldn’t they be the same color if they are all Lavender Orpingtons?” I asked. “Their color will change,” he said abruptly. I lovingly put my six three-day old hens in a shoebox with water and lots of soft paper towels. According to the books it is imperative that they stay warm. I turned the heater on full blast and started home. I shed my sweatshirt after twenty minutes, my long sleeve shirt after forty minutes. The rest of the trip I was in my sports bra, my pants legs rolled up, and shoes off sweating profusely. What can I say? It was love at first sight. I loved them! I named them after all of my great aunts except for one. I had recently read a book about St. Francis and he had a friend named Claire. Their names are Ruby, Hazel, Virginia, Lucy, Clare and Willameana. All the books said to spend lots of time with them if you wanted friendly chickens. I think this might have been mistake number one. I spent hours with them. I held them. I laid on the floor and let them roam all over me. I bought them mealy worms and hand fed them. I sang to them. I constantly changed their water and bedding and made sure the heat lamp was just perfect. I brought in large rocks they could jump on and then sticks they could roost on. When I get a new pet, I always introduce myself. For instance, when we got Farley and Bowie I said, “Hi, my name is Jeanine. I will be taking care of you for the rest of your life. I promise to treat you well, walk you, and provide you with cool air in the summer and heat in the winter. You will always have water and a full belly.” Well when I got my girls, it never occurred to me to do this with the chickens. That was a mistake number two. They didn’t seem to be responsive like a puppy. They just want to eat, drink, poop, and stay busy. All day. Fred, my husband, finished Cluckingham Palace. And what a palace. It is huge! The girls have a covered area about 12 feet by 12 feet. There is an open area that is around 5 feet x 10 feet. Their coop has a sliding door on one side and then a door at front with four areas for laying. It is so big that most of our friends who see it laugh at the monstrosity. I don’t care. If I was chicken I would want a bit of space. I believe this was mistake number three. They think they are royalty. They sashay in and out of the run. They…well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Keep reading, you’ll see. The girls stayed in the bedroom until it was warm enough to enter their palace. After two months, I realized Willameana was a rooster. And boy, what a rooster! He pecked the girls, he pulled their feathers out, he yelled at them, he ordered them to the back of the yard, then to the side yard, and he herded them everywhere. They got no rest. If they sat down he wanted them to sit up. If they stood up, he wanted them to run. By law, I could not keep him. Ms. Hilda and Mr. Fuzzy Face It was during the time I was trying to find the rooster a good home, when I thought I was going insane. I changed the rooster’s name from Willameana to Willouby-mean. It fit him perfectly. One day he was being extraordinarily ugly to my girls, so I locked him in Cluckingham Palace and let the girls out to give them a break. It was hot and I needed to clean the house. As I was dusting, I distinctly heard “Mrs. Hilda!” in a high pitched feminine voice. I thought it was on the television, I heard it again. This time it was two voices and very demanding. “Mrs. Hilda!!” I turned the television off and looked out the front window. We live in a cul-de-sac and I am the only one who doesn’t work and I know all our neighbors. There is no Mrs. Hilda. “Mrs. Hilda!” This time three voices in unison. Just as I was opening the back door five voices sang in an operatic voice. “Mrs. Hilda!” It was the hens, my girls. We have a covered deck with two couches one of which I collapsed upon. Hazel jumped in my lap demanding to be stroked. I absently stroked her as I stared at them. “Ms. Hilda, we have something of import to discuss with you,” Ruby stated as she jumped on the arm of the couch. Seriously, I could do nothing but stare. This wasn’t happening. I knew I had retired too early. I had too much time on my hands. I read a lot and I do have an imagination but never have I ever heard voices. “Ms. Hilda,” Clara whispered, “we have a very serious request.” “Ms. Hilda, are you hyperventilating?” Lucy asked as she strutted around my feet. I pushed Hazel aside and ran into the house locking the French doors behind me. As if they could open the door, but hey, they could talk! For ten minutes it continued a cacophony of feminine nagging voices. “We need you, Mrs. Hilda!” “Mrs. Hilda, open this door.” “Come out, we have a request.” “Or two,” snickered Virginia. I couldn’t take it anymore. I slowly opened the French door and walked passed them to the couch. I figured if you can’t beat them join them. “Who is Ms. Hilda?” I asked almost choking on the words. This was impossible (it still is!) The hens stared at me with their beady little eyes. “You are!” They stated. “No, my name is Jeanine.” “No, it isn’t you are Ms. Hilda.” “Good grief, I’m Jeanine. You are hens and not supposed to talk.” “We like Ms. Hilda better,” Ruby stated. “Ms. Hilda you shall be,” Hazel huffed. “Now, down to business,” Virginia interjected. “Get rid of that rooster. That he devil.” “Yes, please,” Clara added. “We have decided to start a convent.” “Have you seen our tail feathers?” Lucy asked. “Oh that’s right, we don’t have any!” “We dislike him immensely. He rapes and pillages us at every whim,” Ruby chimed in. “Please, please Ms. Hilda,” the five screamed. “My name is Jeanine. And since I am talking to you I guess I should answer you. This is so weird. I am trying to find a home for him. Fred thinks he has a co-worker who wants him.” “Who is Fred?” Hazel asked. “That is wonderful. Tell his co-worker to hurry up and make a decision,” Cara stated. “Yes, before we have no feathers left!” Lucy said. “Okay. Mmm, Fred is my husband!” “Is that why you don’t have tail feathers, Ms. Hilda?” Virginia asked. I chose not to answer that one. “Who is Fred?” Hazel asked again. “Fred, you know, man who built your run and coop. Man who feeds you blueberries and corn?” “Ohhhh, Mr. Fuzzy Face!” They screamed with delight. “Why didn’t you just say so?” “Fuzzy Face? Oh, the beard and mustache. I see. His name is Fred and I am Jeanine.” “Ms. Hilda, he is Mr. Fuzzy Face. And you will remove that rooster from our domain,” Ruby huffed. The hens marched off toward the back of the property and I went in a poured myself a rather large glass of wine. That was the first day they spoke to me. It wouldn’t be the last.