In the winter of 2007, some kind-hearted folks brought us a two year old Black Australorp hen named Spumoni. Evidently a dog broke into her yard and attacked the hen, chewing off her whole beak! Standing there looking at this little “alien” hen in need, we knew from the get-go that she had a slim to middling chance of surviving such a horrendous injury but we were willing and ready to help her however we could.

These nice women had kept Spumoni alive with twice daily tube feeding sessions and before leaving HartSong, they shared their technique. We followed their feeding suggestions for a couple of weeks, which involved force feeding her a watered-down crumble, but soon realized that it was too distressing for ALL of us! Feeding time was a horrible experience for Spumoni and she hated it. She must have felt violated and humiliated in that she fought desperately to free herself. Enough was enough! It became apparent that keeping a chicken alive in such a manner was not a kind, humane thing to do. The writing was on the wall… if Spumoni was going to live, she had to learn to feed herself.

From that day forward, Kathy embarked on a journey that would challenge her culinary skills as it was now her job to concoct that which Spumoni would find delicious. She is a very picky eater, but over the years, Kathy has come to know exactly what she enjoys. The base of the recipe is always one can of sweet corn and whatever else goes into the blender depends upon the leftovers we have in the frig. Spumoni loves green bell peppers, left over Chinese food, lettuce, bread of any kind, peanut butter, sour cream, yogurt, a splash of vinegar and her all time favorite, watermelon.

In that she has no beak she had to adapt, and she quickly learned to use her tongue (yes, chickens have tongues) to lap up her tasty mash. It’s truly fascinating to watch her eat. I’ve also come to know that Spumoni has very good hearing because all I have to do is turn on the blender and magically she appears at the front door, squawking and cooing until I present her with her morning meal.

Such a proud little bird she has become, now spending her days doing all things “chicken”… taking dust baths, lounging in the sun and even laying the most beautiful brown eggs. Sanctuary visitors are always amazed to see her come-a-running when you call her name. One might think that due to her disability she would be the odd-girl out – the one on the bottom of the pecking order – but such is not the case, for she is the self-proclaimed ruler of the roost. Now the “top dog”, she takes no grief from any of the other sanctuary hens and even the roosters find her attractive. Today, she’s one very happy bird and all because she had grit and determination, and was given the chance to find her way.