I recently finished this painting of two of my hens, now passed on, Surfer Girl (a California white, mostly Leghorn), in the front, and Ginger behind her. They were buddies who went everywhere together. I worked from a photograph I had taken early in the spring this year. I started with watercolor, added some colored pencil, and finished with India ink stipple.
Surfer Girl was petite and delicate, but she would gorge herself daily and give us a jumbo egg the next morning. You can see one forming here in her crop, so that’s why I call this image “Tomorrow’s Egg.”
“Tomorrow’s Egg,” copyright 2012 V. Cooper. 8-1/2″ x 11″, mixed media on paper.
Ginger was never quite right as a chicken. She had about one good year laying eggs, and then they started to get sporadic and weird. She was laying shell-less eggs, in spite of calcium and other supplements, before she stopped altogether and was basically a pet chicken for the year before she died.
Ginger was the leader of the pack, so after she was gone, the remaining three hens were lost without her; especially Surfer Girl. That hen called for Ginger constantly, and I and the others just weren’t suitable replacement. I have photographs and video of my Rhode Island Red Ester trying to console Surfer Girl. A couple of weeks ago, she encountered a fox who took her away to see Ginger.
Ester caught me stroking a white feather I had picked up near the hen house, and gave me a questioning look. I showed her the feather without really thinking and her eyelid came up halfway as if she were about to cry. So I’ve been collecting the feathers and hiding them away.
I miss Ginger and Surfer Girl a lot.