Henrietta – My Wild Friend

As I stood at the kitchen sink this morning, cleaning up breakfast dishes, I enjoyed the light breeze wafting through the window and the soft rays of sunshine warming my face. Once again the day was bright and beautiful; bringing not only warmth and sunshine but an abundance of fragrances from the multitude of wildflowers blooming in the fields nearby.

The melodies of the songbirds and the chattering conversations of the barn swallows that are using our porch rafters as their haven floated through the air as God reminded me once again of His supernatural abilities by sharing His creation with me. What a blessing to start my day. It helps me stay focused on Him as I maneuver through the obstacles which confront me as the hours pass! But this morning something was missing.

About a year ago on just such a morning, I discovered a different instrument among the morning chorus that I had become used to hearing. It was just a subtle change in the harmonics and I couldn’t quite recognize it. It was softly pleasant although slightly different.

When I later went to feed our chickens I discovered the new musician standing in the middle of our small barnyard. She was elegant and proud and just a bit shy. She scuttled to the hen house and nimbly hopped onto the roof as she surveyed my strange movements. There she stood poised like a sophisticated aristocrat as I tried to ignore her while secretly keeping one eye on her just as she kept one eye on me. As I went about giving everyone their breakfast, I managed to toss a small helping of grain her way but really only succeeded in spooking her from her perch on the roof. She didn’t go far; just a safe distance until I left the enclosure and she tip-toed back to the grain offering, all the while keeping her “eagle eye” on me.

Actually, it was her “turkey eye” that watched every movement I made. She was a beautiful, full-grown hen and that day she began her love affair with our rooster named Joseph.   He had been named Joseph because the variety of colors reflected in his feathers reminded me of the coat of many colors made for Joseph in the Bible. My husband named our new family member “Henrietta” and we saw her every morning while feeding.

Sometimes she would spend hours trying to figure out how to get back to the chicken pen for our pastures all had field fence across them to keep our goats from straying too far from home. She literally wore paths along the fence line and would traipse back and forth all day; then suddenly appear back in the barnyard near the chicken pen about an hour before we put our animals away for the night. Often Henrietta would roost in a high tree next to the chicken pen, but windy nights would drive her into hiding somewhere in the low bushes nearby. She was always at breakfast every morning!

The winter chill set in and we were sure she would disappear. We never saw a tom turkey with her so we knew we were her only family. Even as days grew colder and the snow and ice began to appear, Henrietta always had her meals at our barnyard table with her new flock of friends and her handsome love interest. Although chickens and turkeys are not always compatible, Henrietta patiently spent her time in and around our barnyard and chicken pen. On winter days when we did not see her, we always spotted the one lonely set of turkey tracks all around the pen and knew she had been visiting again.

We felt so good to know that we had helped Henrietta through the winter months. She came into spring looking healthy and strong and stayed close to our chickens. Occasionally I would arrive in the barnyard unexpectedly during mid-day on a weekend. There I would find her scrutinizing the hay barn or milk room. Although she spent many hours with us, she was much more comfortable with the animals than us humans. I had often seen her walk casually through the goat pen deftly dodging the curious kids without as much as a ruffled feather. However, if I accidentally came upon her too quickly, she would gently spread her massive wings, give a little hop and be sailing over the fence, down to the creek and up the other side of the hill, a mere six to eight feet off the ground.   I would watch her settle in the pasture across the creek among the scraggly oak trees and call out my apology to her and ask her to come home. She would – when she was ready!

As we went into mid-spring, Henrietta’s visits were weekly rather than daily and we hoped she had found a wild mate to start her own little brood. Another family nearby had reported that she would visit them occasionally and feed was always available to her. We relaxed in the assurance that if she was not with us she was at the neighbor’s house.

It has now been about six weeks since we have seen or heard from Henrietta. We miss her presence and her cheerful, chirping voice. The daily chorus seems incomplete yet still beautiful to my ears each morning. I miss the chuckle I always got while watching her flirt with Joseph, yet my prayer is that she found her soul mate and has not become prey to coyote, cougar or man.

I will always miss her and will hope for her return. The Bible tells us all things have their season and I am blessed to have shared a least one season with Henrietta. Maybe someday soon she will return with a mate and a brood of little Henrys and Henriettas and they will all join the morning chorus I so love to hear!

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