by Kelsey Orvick
Our chicken raising adventures began at my mother's house. She brought home Rhode Island Red and Buff Orpington hatching eggs simply for the experience, unconcerned that she lived in the city.
I was there for the hatching, and the raising. She could only keep five in her backyard, and the rest would be living in fox central with me, so I took the teenagers that appeared to have the most spunk.
Duchess and her sister Hershey became quite the pair. They were both Rhode Island Reds, with very pretty big red combs, and chocolate brown feathers.
Even from a chick, Duchess was regal, and always held her head high. For a moment I was worried she was a rooster, especially because sweet little Hershey tailed her everywhere. If I held either Hershey or Duchess, the other would come ensure her friend was safe.
Hershey loved attention and always tried to be in the middle of things; Duchess preferred her feathers stay unruffled, and just hated being handled, but she never ran. She was forever keeping a watchful, quiet eye over her noisy sisters, with Hershey right nearby.
One day I found her acting a bit tired. Her tail was drooped, not at all like her normal regal self. I gave her a warm bath, and she loved the pampering. That day I knew she truly was a Duchess. When I took her back outside, she was practically bouncing with joy, in her own chicken way. All of her bBuff Orpington sisters looked jealous, but not Hershey, who was simply happy her sister was back.
After that day, I learned that her favorite treat was being pampered. I could offer all of the mealworms and fruit that I could find, but she was never interested. Give her a nice warm spa, and she'd become perkier than a puppy. I tried the spa with my other girls, but not even Hershey enjoyed it. Duchess and I made a tiny routine of it, so that once a month her feathers were nice and fluffy, just the way she liked.
For an entire year we did this, which made her barely over two years old. She paid me with numerous delicious eggs, and in return I was allowed to give her a spa treatment, and ensure that Hershey received her mealworm allowance.
Last night I watched Hershey snuggle up next to Duchess to roost, as they did every night. This morning, Duchess lay peacefully in her favorite sun bathing spot, as if she were asleep. Her passing was just as regal as the way she lived. Goodbye Duchess, may you rule as the flock Queen for the hens in the sky.
Rest in peace my sweet girl.
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