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Poor Cotton.

It’s been a few months since Twinkle went to live with a new family and my mom brought out a rooster–we’d hatched a clutch of blue eggs for her and one ended up being a rooster, which she can’t keep in her backyard in the city. So, we took him in, hoping he’ll help introduce new bloodlines and possible new colors to our egg collection. Things were going splendidly until one day, he took a look at our white leghorn, Cotton, and decided he just didn’t like her.

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Enjoying her own breakfast.

At first, we thought maybe the hens had gotten into it and things had gotten bloody (they don’t call it pecking order for nothing). When I cleaned her off and put her back in with the flock, it was very apparent that the rooster was the culprit.

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I wish sometimes, I had the gift of animal-speak, a la Dr. Doolittle. I’d have each and every animal on the couch for a therapy session at least once a week to see how they feel they’re being treated and if anything is bothering them. Obviously, something set off the rooster but your guess is as good as mine when it occurred out of the blue and unprovoked. One thing was clear: Cotton wasn’t safe in the coop anymore. So, she came to live inside for a few days with Raven until the worst of her injuries had healed and then, she had to go back outside because, as crazy as an animal lover that I am, chickens are just gross and don’t belong inside.

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Sightseeing on the way to school: a red fox burying a half-eaten rabbit as a snack for later.

The problem with being outside is that through the day, she’s relatively safe, we lock our chickens up at night since we know we have raccoons, foxes, owls, neighbor’s dogs, stray cats, and all sorts of other predators that would love to get their hands on a tasty little chicken. But what do you do when you know your rooster is abusive? Well, the one obvious answer is you can butcher your rooster. We seriously considered offing him but since he hasn’t been picking on the other hens and he performs his role as flock protector well, that seemed like sort of a waste. We thought about giving Cotton away but I kind of shied away from the idea of handing over a half-bald, bloody, scared hen to someone. I have always noted how fast and clever Cotton is–she’s terribly difficult to catch and she’s survived more than one night on her own when she’s flown the coop. That ended up being our best bet–letting Cotton live on her own.

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Still find her eggs hidden around the farm.
So far, so good. She sleeps in different spots every night and every morning, is ready and waiting for her breakfast. I’ve loved seeing her personality as she follows me around while I do the chores–running from the barn, back down to the horse pasture, and back to the coop, where I’m fairly certain she laughs at everyone who is still cooped up.
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Cotton is definitely a lot friendlier than the rest of the girls.

Though animals have a job on the farm, I still have a soft spot for the fact that they’re animals. Cotton has been worth saving, not only for her eggs but because she has a certain joie de vivre and for now, that can be what she’s meant to do.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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