During the frenetic, hot summer period, when we were preserving and jamming our fruit and vegetables (as nothing went to waste), Henny Penny had a curious addiction. She’d repeatedly hop up the steps and into the kitchen, then sit quietly on the linoleum floor, occasionally cocking her head from side to side – but mostly with her eyes closed as if she was away with the fairies.
We were really confused by this behaviour and spent many years trying to figure it out.
Then one year, when a song came on the radio that none of us liked, I changed the radio channel. Henny Penny immediately launched to her feet and stomped around in a circle, clucking in a very upset and angry manner, jerking her head back and forward, and spreading her wings.
We were amazed, but we got it! I immediately changed the dial back to the previous station. The clucking stopped and she looked up at us, then she fluttered her wings and quietly resumed her snug position on the linoleum floor, eyes closed and away with the music. This was one of the biggest lessons I’ve ever had about animals.
One winter’s day I came home from school to find Henny Penny collapsed on the grass outside our back door. She had made it up from the back of the Below Jacqueline’s beloved childhood chook, Henny Penny. Bottom The spirited white leghorn struts around the family property in Christchurch, New Zealand in the 1960s. garden, an amazing effort considering she was 17 years old. I cried, ran inside and phoned Mum, who was at work.
Mum was just as upset as me. She told me to go and light the fire in the lounge room, turn on the radio, i blankets to lay Henny Penny on and wrap them over her to keep her warm.
I did as instructed and placed her on the rug in front of the fire. Mum assured me she would be home as soon as possible.
And so Henny Penny passed, lying in front of the fire, snuggled in blankets, with her music playing and her family nestled around her, giving her the occasional soft stroke and telling her how much we loved her.