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Carol Reiter: Headstrong chick fits right in

Carol Reiter

Over the years, we've had a lot of animals come through our lives. From horses to goats, sheep to dogs, we've pretty much had almost every variety possible.

Despite what a lot of people think, every one of those animals had a distinct personality. We had smart sheep, and we had sheep that were dumber than a stump. I've owned a few different breeds of dogs, and even within a breed, there are so many different personalities. I've even had a dumb border collie (poor Roy).

But one of the weirdest animals we've had is a half-grown, buff-colored hen. This pretty little bird started out as one of a couple of chicks that were hatched by one of our broody little hens. Only two chicks were hatched, and one died almost right away.

My neighbor has chicken-hating dogs, and when the little chick was just a few days old, she wandered into the yard with the dogs.

Apparently, the mother hen went to her chick's aid, and gave her life to save that little chick.

Now we had a motherless little baby running around, and a bunch of cats who would love to have chicken for dinner. My friend and I risked our lives trying to trap that chick on the carport, trying to save its tiny life.

Man, that was a quick little chick. She ran and hid and flew and squawked and did a great job of evading us. So we got a net, didn't give up until we caught the little bird, and we ended up filthy, hot and mad.

We put the chick into a cage, and that's where she lived for a couple of weeks. She grew like a weed, and when we thought she was old enough, we let her go free.

At the same time, we had a wild mother cat with kittens living in our hay. We were feeding the kittens, trying to tame them so that we could catch them. The chick discovered that cat food tasted pretty good, and she started hanging out with the kittens.

At first, it was cute. But the little chick quickly grew, and turned into a hen. A mean hen. That chicken must think she's a cat, because she was never afraid of the cats that would have loved to have her for dinner.

Within a few days of turning her loose, the little chicken started chasing the cats away from their food. She would put her wings straight out, and run head on toward the cats.

Our cats are pretty tough, but apparently they had never seen a chicken-cat before. When the chicken went on the defensive, the cats quickly found somewhere else that they desperately needed to be.

Now the chicken is almost full-grown, and she still chases cats. My neighbors had started calling her the chicken-cat, and then they shortened her name to Chica.

Let me tell you, Chica is mean, mean, mean. If she sees a cat, she puts her head straight out like a miniature dinosaur, and goes on the attack. And believe me, even the big, tough tomcats run from her.

The hen has no chicken friends, she still hangs around the cats during the day. They get along OK, as long as the cats don't step over the line.

Chica is a pretty smart little chicken, she knows that cat food is pretty tasty. She has the cats buffaloed, and even the dogs give her a wide berth now.

Personality? You bet. Chica has as much personality as any of my dogs, even Len. The cute little hen fits right in with the rest of the animals at our place -- tough, smart and ornery.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com

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