from the upcoming book about Southwest and South Central Kansas

Hannah the Hen

By Marilyn Goracke of Phillipsburg, Kansas

Born 1945

"Hannah, Hannah," I would call out, and somewhere in a sea of white ruffled feathers and red combs would come a gentle singing, an answer to my calls. I could find Hannah almost immediately, with the rest of the chicken flock fluttering away. Hannah would continue to sing to me until I picked her up.

I've had a lot of people tell me, "Oh Marilyn, you can't make a pet out of a chicken, let alone have a chicken recognize a voice or even recognize its name."

I loved growing up on an Iowa farm. I loved being able to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine, running in the rain, and jumping in mud puddles. But, most of all, I loved being able to have the farm animals as friends. Heaven knows I had a lot of them. Spot the pony, Foxy the fox, Douglas the pig, Elmer the cat, and numerous cows that each had a name too.

Hannah's life started out as an ordinary chicken. A little yellow piece of fluff brought home from the hatchery with 90 other baby chicks. The baby chicks were housed in a "brooder house" that had special lamps to keep them warm. After three or four months the chickens were allowed to run free around the farm yard, returning to the chicken house at dusk to "go to roost" and sleep.

One afternoon, after getting home from school, I noticed a hen chicken laying on the yard. She seemed unable to get up and run away with the rest of the chickens. I went over to her and picked her up, noticing her right leg dangling loosely. Taking the chicken to the house for my mother to see, was told the chicken's leg is probably broken. I asked my mother if we could "fix it." Locating some Popsicle sticks, we taped the chicken's leg into place.

I couldn't allow the chicken to return to the chicken flock so a cardboard box was used to house my newly found friend. Straw was placed on the floor of the box and windows were cut in the sides. Something still didn't seem quite right. She'll be lonely in the box by herself. I started looking for pictures of chickens to keep my friend company. A lot of farm magazines were available, so several pictures of chickens were cut out and taped inside of the box.

I can't seem to remember how I decided to name my friend Hannah. I guess Hannah the hen just seemed appropriate.

After a couple of weeks of caring for Hannah, I thought it might be fun if I took her to school for a visit. The teacher approved the visit, so my mother helped me prepare Hannah's house and helped get her to school. The teacher and students all gathered around Hannah's box to see her before school started. About 10:30 that morning, Hannah began singing and nothing could quiet her. The teacher told me I needed to move Hannah to the entryway so my mother could come and get her. When I moved Hannah's box what a surprise I found. Hannah had laid an egg! That was the reason she's been singing. She hadn't laid any eggs since her injury, and now she had laid an egg, AND DURING SCHOOL! I knew then that Hannah was getting well.

After another week or so, mom though it might be time to remove the splints and see how Hannah walked. She seemed happy to have the splints removed. She hopped a short distance, but didn't try to put any weight on the injured leg. We decided to wait another week and let Hannah try to walk again. Much to my happiness and amazement Hannah tried to put some weight on her injured leg, barely touching her foot to the ground. I helped Hannah practice walking a little every day. When mom and I felt it was safe enough for Hannah to be with the other chickens we put her with them in the chicken house. Hannah now walked with a slight limp, but she blended in with the other chickens. I could always find her though, not because of her limp, but because anytime I would call, "Hannah, Hannah," she would sing out to me.

After a couple of years, mom decided to sell the chickens. A man and woman came one evening when it was almost dark and took all the chickens. It was after this I could no longer find Hannah, despite my calls to her. I decided she must have gone along with her chicken friends to a new home. I knew she wouldn't be lonely.

A lot of years have passed but I still think of Hannah, and once in a while, if I listen very closely, I still hear her singing out to me. I still miss her, but I know she's happy wherever she is.

What does God say about animals?

Animals are silent witness for GOD. Scripture states that God's Glory can be seen in all of His creation. If you read the scriptures and observe His animals, it is obvious. They are testimony of His power, His majesty, His design, and His love. You may not see it, but it is there to be seen. You may not hear their voices because they speak a different language, but they still speak and testify of Him.

They were given intelligence. That is evident by the fact that they can learn tasks. Isaiah 1:3 speaks of the intelligence of animals in stating that they know their owners and they know their homes. They can learn to communicate with, and learn to understand human language and behavior.

Can they not also feel pain, hunger, cold, hot, love, rejection, and fear as humans feel? It is not that animals are less than human. It is just simply that they are not human. God's Word tells us that He love creation, that He loves man, and that He loves animals.

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