Horatio, Caroline Bingley,
& Louisa Hurst
Horatio and his lady friends arrived at Darrowby because their owners were unhappy with the volume, timing, and prolific nature of Horatio's crows. When I was told that he was headed to slaughter, I asked if he could live with us instead, and he arrived with two lady friends. These hens had started a bullying campaign that had taken over their entire flock, and later that week we rescued Helena, a hen near death who had been the primary victim of this behavior.
Horatio's arrival at Darrowby reflects a common problem in the poultry business. People buy adorable chicks at Tractor Supply or local feed stores each spring, and expect that chickens, unlike virtually every other species on our planet, will produce much more offspring of one gender than another. Actually, this myth is encouraged by poultry corporations who sex chicks soon after birth, and throw the males, alive, into a macerator to be ground up, or into a sack to suffocate with the weight of the other discarded male chicks. Those who make it through, however, are often doomed to be discarded when they're older, as people decide that while they wanted chickens, they didn't actually want roosters. This is tragic because roosters are loyal, protective, never eat until their hens have eaten, and always call out to their hens when they find a tasty treat to share. Horatio is a passionate protector of his hens, and he has a special cluck that identifies each of his caregivers. His morning affirmations tell us that all is well at the sanctuary, and we are grateful for him.
As for Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, they have become much less aggressive now that they have room to roam and more to think about than being mean to other girls. Their names came from the day I was walking past them and was given such side-eye that I could hear them recreating the conversation from Pride and Prejudice between sisters Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst:
"She has nothing, in short, to recommend her.... I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild."
"She did, indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance.... Her hair, so untidy, so blowsy!"
"Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office."
They are certainly gentlewomen with high standards.