She survived a vicious predator attack last summer, made it through winter, and persevered after a run-in with a car. My car.
Hilda the One-Eyed Hen is one tough old bird. Last summer she was the only survivor after an attack by a predator. Her eye and a portion of her head was so swollen I didn’t think she’d make it, but she did! The swelling went down, but she lost vision in her eye as a result of the incident. I figured she wouldn’t last long, as a one-eyed chicken can’t see 50% of what might be coming for her. (Which unfortunately is why she seems to be preferred by the roosters.) But she made it through the cold winter, only to face death again.
On Monday night I got in my car to go to the high school to pick up my son. I saw Hilda sitting on the edge of the driveway as I was pulling out, so I maneuvered around her. But then I heard a “clunk.” My daughter said, “Mom — you just ran over a chicken!” I said that no, I saw that hen and drove around her. It must have been a stick.
But sticks don’t have feathers. And there were feathers all over the driveway. We got out and looked around. My daughter spotted Hilda underneath the shrubbery. I walked over to her and gently tried to get her to stand up, but she hobbled away with one of her legs dragging on the grass. It looked like her hip was broken.
I felt terrible. In my 9 years of chicken ownership, I’ve never ran over one. They usually get out of the way, but I imagine Hilda got confused and ran under (instead of away from) the car.
My husband came to see what was going on. Hilda was breathing slowly and we figured the end was near. She could barely hold her head up. He told us to go on and he’d take care of her, so we left for the high school in low spirits.
Two months ago I got four new chicks. They’ve been doing great, but Hilda has had her eye on them. She pecks at them and I find them hovering in corners to escape her wrath. A few nights she wouldn’t even allow them inside the coop. So even though I felt sad that for her pending demise, the only bright side was that the little chicks wouldn’t miss the abusive pecking. I can just hear them cheering, “Hooray — that one-eyed monster is dead!” They are just too young to understand how Hilda’s brushes with death have made her a bit edgy.
When we returned later that evening, I went to close up the coop and make sure all of the other birds were okay. To my surprise, there was Hilda snuggled up with the four little chicks. They looked up at me as if to say, “I know, right?” I picked up Hilda and checked her out. She seemed okay! I placed her inside a milk crate filled with straw to settle down for the night.
Totally surprised at the turn of events, I pressed my husband for details. “She started walking around and seemed fine,” he said. In fact, she walked all the way from the shrubbery to the coop, a good 30 feet and then up the ramp. Amazing!
When I posted Hilda’s story on Facebook, one of my friends said, “She must have a destiny to fulfill…” Maybe she’s right. Since she’s not filling a grave or someone’s stomach, maybe I could make a little patch for Hilda’s eye and she’ll enjoy fame and fortune as a chicken pirate. Or perhaps her story will make headlines and she’ll start demanding a new nesting box, green grapes and pasta every day.
Whatever’s in her future, we’ll keep an eye out for her, because she’s only got one left.