Sunday Morning Chicken Story
I can't remember why Paul decided to name our bantam hen Minstrel; I think he must have been reading something chivalric at the time. He also decided to name the rooster Long John Silver, although the rooster does not have a peg leg. Paul's chicken-naming decisions are famously opaque. He once named five hens Butter and the sixth Butterscotch. But Butterscotch looked exactly like the Butters, so the variation wasn't at all enlightening.
Minstrel is a peculiar little hen. She is three years old and hasn't laid an egg since she was two. Nonetheless, she is very fond of eggs. Her hobby is to wait until the big hens have filled up the nest with the day's eggs and then to climb on top of the pile and pretend that they're hers. Because she is tiny and the eggs are not, this looks extremely odd.
When the egg collector arrives in the afternoon, he or she is forced to poke around under Minstrel to find all the eggs. Minstrel, as you might expect, does not take kindly to this poking. Yes, she does peck, as an ordinary hen would; but she also squeals. If you have never heard a chicken squeal, you're not alone. I never had, until Minstrel began honing her complaint. It's a very bratty noise.
One could make the argument that Minstrel is merely following her maternal instincts. But once, when she was still laying her own eggs, she managed to sneak out of the chicken house and make a nest under the hosta. Every day for thirteen days she laid an egg in that nest and sat diligently on the heap for an hour or so. Then she deserted it for snacks. As a result, I was saddled with a clutch of thirteen rotten bantam eggs to hide from the Questing Poodle. So I no longer pay any mind to Minstrel's maternal squeals.