Meet Sally, Coopminster Abbey’s Dowager Duchess

You're profiling me today? How delightful!

You’re profiling me today? How delightful!

No grand estate is complete without a grande dame to run it. Fortunately, we happen to have two: our Barred Rocks, Jenny Linsky and Sally. Today’s Profile in Silliness introduces Sally. She’s bold, she’s gorgeous, and she’s very particular about the way the servants (humans) get things done around the coop. She is also very particular about how her ladies in waiting — Pumpkin, Nutmeg, and Alice — comport themselves. Hers is an iron beak in a velvet, um, sock? Actually, there’s no velvet; Sally expects obedience, end of story.

Sally is Sally because, as DS explained, “she’s beautiful.” When she received her name she was still a little ball of fuzz, but DS knew that from under the down a beautiful hen would emerge. Even as a chick she had comments to offer on housekeeping, treats, and whether sufficient time had been allotted for lounging around and dust bathing. As I cleaned the brooder she would follow my hand and look up into my eyes, peeping authoritatively. When she

The wee lass

The wee lass

graduated to the coop and matured, she still had many things to say about how I did my chores. The other hens and Chancellor the rooster would be out cruising around the barn, but she stayed in the coop until I finished, lest I steal the silver or something. Her running commentary consisted of gentle but confident clucks: “My dear, you do know you’re supposed to clean under the roosts first? And did you not get my hint about the amount of shavings in the nest boxes?” She now trusts me with her valuables enough not to oversee cleaning every day, but she will follow up with spot checks from time to time.

Sally is also a stickler for proper appearances. She keeps herself impeccably groomed and expects the same from her staff. As a chick she would hop onto my shoulder and preen my hair; now, if a strand or two has worked its way free from my baseball cap or I just generally look messy because hey, I’m cleaning the chicken coop, not hitting Fashion Week, she fusses over me, softly clucking, “Darling, you know that here at the Abbey we have rules about dress. That cap is simply unbecoming. And could you at least brush your hair before coming out here?” Then she will gently preen whatever strands of hair she can reach, or push my cap’s bill around until it sits at a suitable angle. One time she even pulled it off; I must have really looked like a wreck that day.

Imperious as she is, Sally is nonetheless a very sweet hen, and probably DS’s favorite. When we briefly discussed a possible chicken visit to his preschool, he instantly nominated Sally as the Abbey’s representative, again because “she’s beautiful!” I love to scoop her up and stroke her gorgeous feathers, whose black parts reflect purplish green

(Sally, on the far right.) My dear, must you take photos right now? It's tea time!

(Sally, on the far right.) My dear, must you take photos right now? It’s tea time!

in the sunlight. The feathers under her tail are especially fluffy, giving her a round, storybook hen appearance. When she rests her head on my shoulder as I bring her back to the coop in the evening, I know that I have served my mistress well that day. Cheers to Sally, the Dowager Duchess!

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