There are places where you expect to find a velvet Victorian sofa. A chicken yard isn’t generally the place.
There are places you expect to see a chicken. A Paris dress shop might not come to mind.
In the back garden of a house on the edge of South Strafford, Vermont, a Victorian sofa holds court beside my friend Tori’s chicken house. And that’s not all. Tori’s hens eat their corn and food scraps from silver platters, artfully posed about the poultry living room that continues to be furnished with chairs and serving ware Tori finds for free at her local town transfer station (ie. the town dump).
I’ll point out that if I had found the sofa for free (or even for sale), it would now be front and center in my own living room, sans chickens. I’d let chickens live in my house—mind you—but that would be a deal breaker for other members of my household.
Tori lost all of her flock of chickens—but one—to a fox last year. The sole survivor, Wanda, is a well-loved hen who lived in Tori’s house (she has a more tolerant spouse, does Tori) until the fencing could be fortified and more hens could be found to join her in the coop.
In the meantime, Tori found the sofa. And a silver tea service. An assortment of wooden chairs with leather seats. An end table or two. Since I first visited the refurbished coop in late summer a wall with paintings and a roof has been erected over the chicken living room so that the hens can spend time outside when the snow is deep.Tori has a whole plan to make them covered pathways from their chicken house to the sofa area so they don’t have to walk through snow at all. It’s hen paradise, and I love it myself.
Wanda travels with Tori. Did I mention that? She went on vacation to Maine this summer, and rides shotgun in Tori’s truck on errands around town. She joined Tori and many other friends (self included) in the photo booth at Tori’s 50th birthday extravaganza in October.
Recently I was driving to an appointment in Woodstock, Vermont, when I ran across Tori AND Wanda having their picture taken. Professionally. Tori was wearing a suit. And Wanda was perched in her arms. If a beak can smile, hers did.
Where else would a woman bond with a chicken and take her everywhere she goes, but Paris? In 1956 LIFE photographer Nina Leen shadowed the Parisienne Marguerite while she did her Paris shopping accompanied by her very own well-loved hen. The story by Liz Ronk and full set of photographs can be seen here.
See more about Wanda here.