The Tale of Lizzie Bord-Hen

The Tale of Lizzie Bord-Hen November 21, 2022


Holly the Witch, as you recall, keeps backyard chickens. She distributes the eggs to all of her neighbors, though there haven’t been many eggs lately. Her two older hens are getting elderly, and the young pullets aren’t laying yet.

One of these pullets went by the name of Lizzie Bordhen, and Lizzie Bordhen was a problem.

Holly and Reese had driven out to the country in the early summer, to buy a variety pack of baby chicks. The chicks stayed in the brooding box, where Lizzie immediately distinguished herself as a very strange hen.

“She’s the dumbest chicken I’ve ever seen,” Holly told me, as Lizzie wandered back and forth unable to find corn. “She gets lost in corners.”

All the chickens looked alike when they were little, but after only a few weeks they started to take on their adult plumage. One was a shiny brown and black hen right out of a fairy story. One was white and gray-brown. The hen known as Betty White turned out to be a Frizzle with snow-white feathers. And Lizzie Bordhen was an Easter Egger– a chicken with an eagle-like face and a long puffy neck. Some Easter Eggers are pretty, but Lizzie looked like a buzzard.

She didn’t act like the other chickens either; while they were laid back domestic birds who liked to follow Holly around and sit in her lap, Lizzie Bordhen was aggressive and pushy. She did not like to be held.  She would nip and scratch to herd the other chickens away from Holly and make them nervous. When Holly started housing the young pullets in the big box with the older ones, Lizzie would squabble and push the other chickens away.

And Lizzie could fly.

The other chickens could fly too, but they didn’t realize this until Lizzie started demonstrating. Holly keeps the chickens in the garage where it’s warm overnight, and takes them out to the outdoor coop during the day. One night she came out to check on them and found Lizzie with two of her sisters in the garage rafters far out of reach.

“Don’t get attached,” said Holly in frustration. “That one’s going to freezer camp.”

But she couldn’t bear to do such a thing.

A few days later, she found that Lizzie Bordhen had flown over the fence into the neighbor’s yard, and the rest of the young pullets had joined her. The neighbor’s friendly dog was standing at a distance in abject horror instead of trying to herd the flock back over. Lizzie had that effect. It took quite a bit of work to get all the chickens back into the coop.

It reminded me of that myth about a farmer raising a baby eagle in his chicken coop and the eagle thinking he was a chicken until someone threw him from a tree to see if he could fly. I’ve always loved that story. But I don’t think Holly was thinking about beautiful myths just then.

It became clear that Lizzie Bordhen could not stay with the flock. She was causing trouble. But Holly still didn’t have the heart to make her pet into soup. So she got online and did a thorough search for any trustworthy person who could take an antisocial Easter Egger hen off her hands without hurting her. Eventually, she came up with a willing farmer: a cheerful lady who ran a small no-kill free range organic egg farm with big airy coops and lots of space to run– and all of her hens were Easter Eggers with the same buzzard-like face and irascible temperament as Lizzie.

Holly arranged to meet the lady in the parking lot at the mall– because she’s cautious and insists on meeting people in public, but not without an eye for how silly it was to meet someone in a parking lot and pass off a live hen.

The next morning there was absolutely no drama in the backyard coop– the old hens and the young pullets were milling about together, finally bonded. They came without trouble when Holly offered them sweet corn.

The new farmer sent photos of Lizzie roosting quietly with her new family; she said she was “Sweet, and amazingly calm.” Holly shared the pictures, just in case anyone thought “going to live on a farm” was a euphemism for soup. Lizzie was very happy in a place where she fit in.

It’s been smooth sailing ever since. Everyone is thriving and at peace.

I wonder what would happen if we all worked hard to find places where people who are different can be accepted and belong, instead of treating them like problems. Maybe we could all thrive.


image via Pixabay 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.



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