On cold evenings, Willow loves to stretch out her wings in front of the outdoor fire on the lush, green property that is now her home. For Willow, any memories of a factory farm cage so small she could barely move are thankfully only nightmares of the past.
She was thrown away like a piece of rubbish when she slipped into unconsciousness in that cage; no longer laying eggs and no longer valued. Featherless and emaciated, she lay dying on a manure pile until a stranger came to the rescue and took her, along with her friend Boudica, to a new life.
Now safe and protected, enjoying the care of that compassionate stranger and others, Willow has a fresh start.
Her future will be filled with newly discovered joys: sunbathing, pecking gumboots, snacking on corn. She prefers soft foods - a grim memento of her former life, where the tip of her sensitive beak was sliced off soon after she hatched. Without her sharp beak tip, she could not harm herself or the other hens crammed into the same factory farm cage.
Even after everything she has endured, Willow loves people. She's a cuddler. Most of all, though, she loves her best friend Boudica, and they refuse to be separated.
Her 'brothers' never lived a week. They were gassed as chicks because they would never produce eggs. Her 'sisters' back at the factory farm will soon be 'spent' at 18 months old; many having lived with broken bones, brittle from inactivity. They will be released from their cages just long enough to travel to the slaughterhouse.
But Willow's bones are growing stronger, her feathers are returning — and she lives free.
This is Willow. She is someone, not something.
Find out more about the secret lives of chickens.
Thanks to Tamara Kenneally Photography for providing Willow's photos and giving her sanctuary to live out her life in peace. All images are copyrighted.
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