Our white leghorn, Henrietta, is not feeling well. She has had a huge molt this fall, but she has also, suddenly, grown old. Her comb is drooping. She is moving slowly and napping a great deal. This week, she has not flown up on the perch at night. One afternoon, when I offered her some banana—a preferred food—she did not even see it. I was sure that she was about to go. I let all of the ladies out while I planted bulbs. The Buffs ran about, hunting bugs in the grass. Henny sat, stooped, in the sun. When she did not even come out on Friday, I sat with her for a while, telling her that she had been a good chicken and it was ok to go. I sent Mark out when he came home for the same reason. The next morning, I did not rush out; when Mark took a while coming back in, I was dreading the news. “She’s still there,” he said. “Looks pretty good. She even ate something.”
Today, we let all of the hens out again. Henny came out to sit in the sun near the greenhouse for the afternoon. She was munching on some grass. I like to think that she is waiting, as I am, for the outcome of Tuesday’s election. She has always been a scrappy little hen, bossy and loud. A good layer—we could host Hot Cross Buns for eighteen on just her white eggs alone. She kept the Buffs in line until just last week, when her comb began to droop. Even now, they leave her be. She was always first into the compost heap when we brought out the yogurt container full of kitchen scraps. Henny never doubted her place. So, maybe she is waiting—more patiently than me, to be honest—for Tuesday evening. And she is hoping, as I am, to see history – or, maybe Herstory—made, when we finally elect a woman for president. It will be a victory for women. I hope Henny is still here to see it. I hope I am, as well.