Sometimes, I am scared to give names to my animals. It seems that sometimes, when I give names, they are suddenly taken from me. This is how it was with Manuka. I felt that she was always at risk. Sadly, her dear little silkie friend was taken from her, by the fox, and it hurt. I felt like I'd failed them both. It took me a long time to get over that loss. But now, my sweet hen deserves a name. Here she is, off to the right amongst the flock at feeding time. The only hen with honey-coloured feathers.
For a while, she was very tightly bonded to me. She greeted me in the mornings. She flew up to the window ledge to accept feed from my hand. She followed me around the chicken yard like a puppy. She sat on my lap. She took all the love that I could give.
It couldn't stay that way. When she flew up to the window ledge, Jet was there, ready to take her for his next meal. She didn't interact with the flock in a normal way. She wasn't learning the ways to stay safe....to keep herself out of harm's way. She didn't understand that danger lurked in the sky, on the ground, all around her.
So, I let her go. I let her become part of the flock. I stopped giving her morning cuddles and encouraging her to eat from my hand. She integrated. She became part of the flock that she was meant to run with. She learned to be cautious and wary. Now, she does not approach me. She stays back, with the others...watching...waiting. She likes to spend time with Foxmorton, the larger rooster. He seems to have an affection for her as well.
I ache a little, in my heart, to know that she no longer trusts me. But she is better off that way. She was nearly passed over. I never intended to buy a production hen chick. I only got her as a companion to the silkie chicks I bought. The sweet silkie chicks that I lost, one at a time. She is the only one who remains. An "ordinary" brown egg layer production hen. To me, she is Manuka, a gorgeous girl with honey coloured feathers who stole my heart and shares the chicken yard with my motley flock. Here she is eating an apple that has fallen from the tree.
In case you don't know, Manuka honey is a special honey from New Zealand that has potential antibacterial qualities. I like to use it in my oatmeal.
In any case, sweet Manuka is a lovely hen, and I am so glad she is part of my flock.