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Matilda is probably over 6 years old now and a Black and White Dominicker Hen. She wasn't 6 months old when we got her in Sept of 2004. Hurricane Jeanne blew her into our kitchen window.
More than anything, Matilda liked to share my saltine crackers and "herd" the other 4 younger hens. We truly enjoy reading everyone's stories about their pets and seeing the sweet pictures. We are big-time animal lovers, and we've had some wonderful pets who shared our lives over the years.
During the last of four hurricanes to hit Orlando, Florida within a 30 day period in the fall of 2004. (when we'd already lost tree limbs and anything else that wasn't securely tied down outside) I was making dinner on the evening of Sept 25, when something hit the kitchen window.
Thinking it was just another limb, I asked my husband to go out and see if it had broken or harmed anything as it came down. He came back in with a little black and white Dominecker hen, just a pullet really, soaking wet, and squawking as angrily as she could. She was one mad wet little hen.
I'd raised pet chickens several times in my life, and loved them as well as knowing what to do for them. We dried her off as best we could, put her in a box and kept her inside.
Her dinner that night, was cooked grits, boiled eggs and whole wheat bread. She acted like it was the best thing she'd ever tasted. Poor little girl was hungry, wet, cold and lost on top of it.
The following morning, we went to a local feedstore and bought her laying mash, cracked corn, oyster shell and some vitamin drops to go in her water.
We took a picture of her, and posted one on every street corner around our entire neighborhood. As far as we knew, no one kept chickens in downtown Orlando, so we didn't know who she belonged to, or how to go about finding out either. There was no telling how long that little hen had been tossed around by hurricane winds, or from which direction she'd come. We just kept her in the box inside, changing her shredded newspaper several times a day. Finally, she calmed down and seemed to be happy to be with us.
Two weeks later, I named her Matilda. She just looked like "Matilda" to me. She was perky and sweet, enjoyed "talking" to me and she'd sit and eat saltine crackers with me every afternoon. My hubby built a nice chicken house and a month went by before she layed her first egg for us.
In March of 2005, we went back to the feedstore and bought her 4 little chicks to love and take care of. I never like to see just "one" of anything. They need someone who speaks their language.
Matilda didn't like those little chickens at all. They were just little feather puffs, and I tried to get her to be nice with them, but she wouldn't. So, they had to have a separate cage until they grew up big enough to take up for themselves. They grew to be way larger than a little Dominecker Hen would ever be, but that never stopped Matilda from being the "Boss Hen" and she'd "herd" them like they were cows.
Our back yard was fully fenced and the 5 chickens (all females, so no crowing roosters to cause us a problem) lived very happily together as long as the younger four hens understood she was the boss. Hubby had later built them a two-story Hen Hotel. Matilda went into the Hen Motel every night before anyone else could go in. She had her favorite perch, and no other hen could sit in her place.
Every morning, Matilda came out first too. They were funny, all lined up and waiting to fly down from their doorway but nobody else moved until Matilda flew down. Then they'd follow her and she'd herd them around all day.
We enjoyed those 5 hens for over 4 years before we moved to south Florida when we gave them all away to a family who raised chickens not too far from where we live now.
They provided us with more eggs than we could eat, so we shared with family and friends. The "girls" were free-range within the confines of our backyard, so the eggs were just wonderful.
I miss sitting on my porch swing and sharing my saltines with Matilda. She'd eat quite a few before running for her water bowl. I don't know if she liked the salt or just my company. I certainly enjoyed hers.
If your children received baby chicks for Easter, keep them if possible and let the kids enjoy taking care of them. Chickens are a lot smarter than most people realize, and they make lovely pets.
All the best to everyone.
By Julia from Boca Raton, FL
These pictures make me wish I'd gotten my little boy an Easter chicken. Matilda looks so tame and nice. Is it because she is a Dominecker? Does anyone know? Thank you Pookarina Julia ww
To answer your question regarding Matilda's gentle and tame ways, I don't know if it has anything to do with her being a Dominecker although I've read that Domineckers (especially) make good pets in general. We didn't get her when she was very young as I'd gotten two other pet chickens years ago (and at different times). They were both Rhode Island Reds, both hens, and seemed to be just as smart, just as sweet and gentle as Matilda is. It probably has as much to do with the way they are treated as anything. Interaction with your pets carries a lot of weight in my humble opinion.
Thanks for the feedback to all those who've responded. All the best to everyone,
Julia (pookarina) in Boca Raton, FL
What a lovely story. I have never had any chicken friends but I would sure like to someday. Thank you for sharing this story with us. Matilda sure is one strong lady!
Wow! That's definitely a God meant you to be together story! He sure does work some amazing miracles! Thanks for sharing Matilda with us! Thumbs up!
On the funny side, I have a quirky sense of humor, she's lucky there wasn't a pot of water boiling inside that kitchen window ;-)