Sol was at a poultry swap in Southwest Virginia on September 1, 2012. Her display cage was creatively built out of sticks and scrap wood, and she had been placed with a little black bantam rooster and an Easter Egger. Tall and silent, Sol towered over both of them, and gave a stink eye so intensely to the rooster that I worried she was going to cause a lot of ripples in my flock. But she had bright eyes, smooth legs, and no visible parasites. She was calm as the man held her out to me, even when I touched her feet, even when he flipped her upsidedown to check her belly. The man wanted more for Sol because of her dual-purpose status (though he couldn't name her breed), but I accepted the deal and bought another hen, a red sex-link, to keep her company, though the two had never met. The man put them in a pine shipping crate together and I paid him. The sex-link started nervous hen sounds and Sol pecked her on the head. I loaded them into the back seat of my Subaru. On the drive home, the sex-link's cries became louder and louder. Sol kept pecking her, as if asking her to please shut the hell up. I kept looking back at the box, trying to decide whether or not to pull over. When we got on the highway, she settled down, and I decided not to pull over. At home, I picked up their crate and found goop all over my seat. Yikes, unhealthy poo this clear and... wait a minute. An egg yolk slipped out from the crate and joined the mess all over my car seat. I just shook my head. Sex-links. We put Sol and the sex-link, Muffin, in a dog crate in the yard where the other hens were free-ranging (no quarantine as I was a newbie). The other hens came over and investigated, one by one, but there was no fighting through the bars (which often happens with my hens as they are pretty aggressive). Muffin pecked at the free salad bar and fallen apple without a care in the world. Sol was nervous, and stood stiff and in rooster pose for almost an hour. After a few hours of this, I let the new hens out to meet the rest of the flock face-to-face. My flock had recently lost a red sex-link, Awkward, who I'd culled because of severe vent gleet, bumblefoot, and respiratory problems. The flock accepted Muffin into their ranks as if she were their fallen sister, giving her all the privileges of a high-ranked hen. Sol, on the other hand, picked a fight with one of the more dominant hens, and saw herself shunted almost to the bottom of the pecking order, outranking only Woodstock the Salmon Faverolles and Liz the Silver Laced Wyandotte. So while Muffin went off foraging with her newfound flock, Sol stayed behind and side-eyed me. That night, Sol was the first one in the coop, even though no one had shown her the way. She just seemed to know where her home was, even if she thought that she was supposed to roost in these soft, warm boxes filled with straw instead of on the roosting poles. The next day, Sol was out foraging, on the edges of the flock but never letting Muffin out of her sight. Muffin, while pecking any lower ranked chickens in sight, never pecked Sol. After a few days, Sol's feathers began to drop, starting with the tail feathers. I worried now that she would lay me NO eggs over the winter, even though I had specifically gone to the swap to find winter layers. However, I soon realized that Sol was near the end of her molt, rather than the beginning. For days, a lone butt feather stuck up straight, echoing Sol's rooster-like posture. And finally that feather also fell out to make room for her shiny, deep black, new feathers. Even with her molt finishing up, Sol was very skittish. She did not want anything to do with me or with other humans, and would flap away very quickly if I got too close. However, Sol very much enjoyed the presence of her chicken buddies. Sol's posture changed to demonstrate her place in the new flock: towards the bottom. She found a friend in Liz, the Silver Laced Wyandotte, and followed her almost everywhere. Liz was the second-lowest ranked member in the flock, but she refused to be scared of the pecks from the higher-ranked hens. Sol realized this, and began to use Liz as a buffer between her and the other hens. When we moved, we took all of our girls with us. Sol took to the new place immediately. Somehow, the change of scenery had changed Sol's behavior. Every day I fed them scratch corn in the mornings as a start to the day. Sol was always right among the other hens who raced to the back door when they heard it open. She began to follow me around the yard, take treats right from my hand, and side-step me when I tried to pet her instead of panickedly flapping. Even more importantly, she started singing, and her voice was beautiful. Gentle, mid-ranged coos, purrs, and trills, along with the bwaks and broks. Silent Sol was silent no more. The greatest part of the story has yet to come. Today, I noticed Sol making nervous sounds and "squatting" in the yard, as if she was trying to lay an egg. I have yet to find one that belongs to her, but I'm going to wait and see. For now, Sol gets braver every day, and is a beautiful addition to our flock.