Oh, my gosh. You remember that we named the hens way back when? And Cassidy got to name one black one Juevo, and I named the other black one Chola? http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chola Yeah, well ONE of those (we’ve since forgotten exactly how to tell the two apart) went through a good thorough MOLTING. Like the Phoenix in Harry Potter. Like the “apteryx” in the BC comic strip. Poor little thing; she just looked AWFUL.
Her neck was all skin, with little tiny sprigs of new feather poking out haphazardly. Like 2-day-old growth on an old guy, shuffling around Wal-mart, wondering where those orange candy peanut bags are. Just pitiful.
I went out today to let them out (the chickens, not the orange peanut candy – or the old guys, for that matter) (I’ve been WAY more conscious of their coopdom ever since that McDonald’s egg supplier story came out) and she was afraid to fly out off the roost in the coop. Her flight feathers hadn’t grown back in yet, and she wasn’t sure she could fly all the way out of the coop to the ground (a total of about 3 feet). She told me all this telepathically, btw. Her wings did look about 30% smaller than normal, even though her neck feathers had mostly sprouted back into real feathers.
Hens, while they are molting, do not lay any eggs. All their energy conversion goes into feather-making, and not egg-making. So while they look like total crap walking around our backyard (which would be the ONLY reason our otherwise-pristine backyard would look Okie), they aren’t contributing to our livelihood, and we STILL have to feed them.
Now, though, she looks better and is on the road to recovery. Matter of fact, one of the eggs I gathered today was really small, and I’ll bet it was her first one after the molt. It was as if she was telling us, “See? Just give me a minute to recover from that hell; it’ll be worth it.”
And how can you say no to that?