There is a chicken at The Farmstead who had no purpose. A Barred Plymouth Rock, she used to be part of our breeding program.
Two years ago she went through molt, but instead of her feathers coming back black they came in pure white. Her eyes turned blue. We have no idea why.
She should have become a stew pot hen.
She stopped laying.
She stopped going to roost at night.
We should have eaten her.
Each night one of us would pick her up and quietly place her on the bars with the rest of her flock. Every morning she would jump down and go about her day. We started calling her “The Troll” because of how she lingered in the dark.
About once a week we brought up to each other how we really should eat her.
The chicks started hatching.
And then something happened.
“The Troll” became a mother. They’re not hers. They can’t be. She hasn't laid an egg in two years and we hatch in an incubator.
The funny thing is, no one cares.
Hens and chicks.
Mother and child.
Nurturing is nurturing.
She is protector. She is comfort. She is warmth.
Suddenly “The Troll” has a purpose.
And now we call her “Mom”.