Peggy Hansen: Diva Chicken

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Peggy Hansen says that no matter who you are in the animal kingdom, it's best to remember that those who rule the roost literally and figuratively will eventually lay an egg.

She knows she's the prettiest. You can tell from that strut, glossy feathers showing all the rainbow as they catch the low light of late afternoon. A shake of her comb, fleshy and flamboyant, confirms your assessment: this is no modest, retiring hen. This one is a diva.

For weeks now, she's been the only one doing any work. The rest are molting, cast off feathers evoking a pillow fight gone strangely wrong, or aging past their peak egg laying years. Every morning, I'd find a smooth, clean, perfect egg in the nesting box, its stark white shell her signature. No dark brown egg from Spot, or pale brown from Crookshanks, nor blue-green from cheek-tufted Zuni. Not even a white one from the supremely bossy Debbie Harry who, truth be told, is likely done with the whole egg scene anyway. Only Pinto fed my appetite for omelettes and frittatas, for quiches and for scrambles.

One morning I opened the nest box door, pondering what to make for lunch, and found no egg at all, or so I thought. Looking more closely, I saw it in a corner, almost covered by the bedding flakes: a smooth, clean, perfect egg, with that stark white shell that said it was Pinto's, but minuscule, a mere inch from end to end. Back in the kitchen, I cracked it open and found only white, no yolk at all a so-called fairy egg. Also known as witch eggs, these can happen when a hen is young, or under stress, and aren't a big deal, though they seem mysterious.

Next morning Pinto had a bit less sass in her strut, as if the others knew about the fairy egg and ridiculed her fall from glory. Truly none of us, even fancy chicken divas, are too great to be made small.


With a Perspective, I’m Peggy Hansen.

Peggy Hansen is an author, photographer and organic farmer in Santa Cruz.