This is Embers story. Ember is gone now. A fox took her from us. Needless to say, the fox had a stroke of bad luck and I took him out of this world.
Remember the friend of Ians at his work that had given me the Silver Phoenix and the Aracuana mutts? His son raises game chickens. I do not keep or care to ever own games. They are supposedly very docile to humans but you get two roosters together and they will kill each other. If you have ever ridden by a place that has them you will see individual birds tethered to a small shelter for each. The hens can be fierce as well, especially if they have chicks. Well, his son had a hen he didnt want to keep. She was only half game. The other half of her was Rhode Island Red. I was a bit leary of getting her, but decided to go ahead and take her.
For anyone that doesnt know, it is very hard to introduce one hen to an established flock. That is why when I add layers to my free roaming flock I always add at least five so the focus on everyone reestablishing a pecking order is not on just one bird.
I picked her up from Ians work. The friend had brought her up and I was already out that way so I was anxious to get my new girl. She was the prettiest color. Shelby immediately named her Ember because she said the feathers around her neck looked like burning embers. The name stuck right away. She had not been handled a lot so she was wild as anything. I got her home and kept her quarantined for about two weeks in a pen on the screened in porch. This time also allowed me to have easy access to her and handle her more to get her settled down.
After I was sure she was healthy and fine I let her go out into the flock and watched. I figured having game in her would give her an advantage and she wouldnt put up with any nonsense. Days went by and things were not going as planned. The old girls were not accepting her into the flock. I took her out and she became the first real pet chicken I guess you could say. She was the precursor for having Mazda, and then Phoenix. Making be realize I could have a single chicken and as long as I gave them the attention and interaction they needed, they were fine with it. She was more than fine with it because she did not fit in nor did it seem she was ever going to fit in out in the yard.
Now here comes the funny and interesting part about Ember.
While we had already made our move to the country...the old house was stillon the market and almost every weekend we had to come and do more repairs or painting, things that need doing to a house being sold. We would spend the night on Saturday night at my parents that lived about twenty minutes from our old house.
This was before the pigs, before the horse...so all I did was stock up on the chickens feed and water so it would last the weekend and we were off and gone. They were all locked up tight still at this time remember because we had no farm fencing.
Well, we always took Tip with us...that was a given. What to do with Ember though? I didnt want her to have to be in that pen on the porch all weekend. So we took her with us. Every weekend we loaded up Ember, loaded up the dog and went on down. Ember would hang out at Mama and Daddys all day within the safety of the fenced in back yard. At first I would get her in in the evenings and put her in her pen we carried along with us so she could sleep safely. Eventually she had other ideas and decided she was going to start roosting in the tree in front of my Daddys shed. There was no way to get her down, she had made up her mind when dusk fell she was going to sleep in that tree, so we let her. Eventually she spent whole weekends without being caged at all in their back yard.
Now comes the funny part. I knew she was laying eggs regularly...but when we took her with us on these weekends I never could find any eggs anywhere. I just assumed that the travelling was a little stressful so she wouldnt lay those weekends. Mama and Daddys next door neighbors garage faces their house and they often leave it open. One evening I couldnt find Ember...it was getting late and she was not in the tree and not in the yard. I was in a bit of a panic and afraid she had run off. I went next door to ask if they had seen her..and as I walked into the garage something caught my eye. Their washer and dryer are in the garage. Therefore, there was a round basket of dirty clothes which I was told later is almost always there with something in it to be washed. Right in the middle of that basket on those dirty clothes sat Ember! She had been jumping the fence and laying her eggs in their baskets of dirty clothes! LOL! I knocked on the door and the neighbor lady came out and saw Ember sitting in the clothes too and we just laughed! The first thing she told me was she couldnt figure out why she kept finding eggs in her laundry basket. She thought some kids were trying to play a prank on heror something. So I told her she was welcome to have the eggs from Embers weekend eggscursions and eat them. She didnt even mind if Ember came over to visit. I was afraid she might not appreciate her visits, but she was okay with it.
A couple of months after this we acquired Hank. Hank is super special too. Hank and Ember became an item immediately. My biggest rooster and my smallest hen, a match made in heaven. Hanks story is next time...and we brought him to Mama and Daddys from a local feed store there...thats how I came to have him, just stopping in to say hello and get some things and they knew I would love to have this big ole Aracauna rooster. This was the first time Hank and Ember met. I will save this romantic story for next time though.
After we got Hank she got brave and with her strong handsome man next to her none of those bossy hens would bother her. She actually became very independent and anytime any of those hens tried to flare up at her she would not back down, she would always show them that she was boss.
I will never forget her last molt before we lost her. I have seen bad molts, but I had never seen a hen lose ALL her feathers. She was completely naked other than her upper neck and head. She looked ridiculous! Poor thing. It was getting colder at night so I decided to bring her in at night and put her in a deep box of hay so she would stay warm. She seemed to really appreciate that. When her feathers did start to grow back you could see those pins all starting to poke through the skin. She got really irritable. I would be too as I am sure this process was very uncomfortable and maybe even somewhat painful. Her plumage came back and she was more beautiful than ever though. I regret that I don't have more pictures of her than I do.
We still miss Ember very much...she was quite a character. There was definitely no other hen like her...she was really special.
You can see on her left foot she has a little bent toe. She had that when we got her. Don't know why...but it never bothered her a bit.
Below is a picture of Ember with her man Hank.