Friday, April 13, 2012

Introducing: Derperella

Anyone that knows me probably knows that I have chickens. Frankly, I just don't shut up about them.

Thus, Derperella needs little introduction to some. Truly, she already has some small measure of Internet Fame™; there is a thread just about her on Backyard Chickens that as of writing this today has over 62,000 views. That is over 65 times the population of the township I live in. That .... that's pretty intense, okay? It's just pretty intense for a chicken.

So what is Derperella?
Derperella was hatched on May 9th, 2011. She is a Faverolles chicken, and from the very start she was doomed. She suffered from many ailments, none of which are contagious but rather poor genetics at play and/or nutritional deficiencies starting with her mother hen when she was a mere egg. Regardless, little Derp arrived in my care with one eye glued shut, and unwilling to eat.

After un-gluing her eye, she looked like this.

Not eating was a very real problem for us. The only thing she'd take is a few drops of liquid at a time from an eyedropper for several days. I packed that warm water full of as much nutrition as I could, but it isn't the same as eating real food.

Finally, I was able to get her to start taking solids, as long as they were on the tip of the eyedropper. It was an improvement, and it was nearly an around-the-clock job. Derperella would peep-scream (you read that right) if I wasn't holding her. It was very trying. Thank goodness she was so cute.

Almost immediately upon eating on her own after a week, she impacted her crop. The crop is sort of a pre-storage area for food in a bird, and impaction means that nothing goes through it. It sits in limbo (and horrifyingly, can start to turn rancid in there). Oh.. oh goodness. Derp. Well, a lot of tiny chick massages later, it was fixed.

Then it happened again. Then it was fixed again. Then Derperella started spinning in circles (a condition called wry neck). Some expensive vitamins and a lot of stressing out later, that too was fixed. On and on, Derperella's issues went! This is commonly called a "failure to thrive", and very reasonably many people don't go too far out of their way to fix these problems if they keep coming and coming. It's nature's way of saying "Population check: this one isn't meant to make it. Put efforts into strong genetics instead."

Unfortunately, I am just way too stubborn to listen, sometimes. And lo, Derp survived.
And she continued to get weirder.

One day, I had family visiting, and had the chicks out with us. One of the other chicks had scratched her foot and, well, I was an overly worried mother and had to fuss and clean it up with a cotton swab. I put the swab up out of reach, intending to toss it in the trash as soon as I had the chicks put away safely.
Suddenly, my sister said, "I don't like the way that's sticking out of her mouth..."
Confused, I looked at the chicks. What on earth was she talking abo--.. Oh, what the everloving--

There was Derperella, with the cotton swab swallowed as far as she could get it... the rest sticking out of her throat. Runnning.. running around in circles, to keep the other chicks from stealing it from her. The other chicks, meanwhile, were so busy not caring at all that they didn't even notice.

I didn't have a camera ready, so I had to draw you a representation of what it looked like.

(The swab was safely removed. No Derperellas were hurt.)

And thus, the tone for Derp's life story was set. She continues to be truly strange in ways that I cannot quite describe (but I'll try anyhow). As she grew, it became clear that her skull itself was somewhat deformed, and twisted to one side. She turned a mahogany brown color instead of the cream and salmon that her breed should be. She is sweet and strange and a loaf of chicken bread. Did I mention her crooked face?

You can expect to hear more about Derperella in the future. She's everyone's favorite chicken, somehow. If you need more right now (who could blame you?) there are photos of her here.

So, now you know Derperella. And you'll continue to know her, along with a great deal of chicken enthusiasts on the internet. We're all a bit closer now in the circle of Derp.


  1. You're wrong! Derp was totally meant to survive... and then become THE MOST FAMOUS HEN OF ALL TIMEZ... Next thing you know she'll have her own TV show. ;P

  2. Somehow Derp is even funnier and more wonderful to me after following that "Faverolles" link and finding out what she was "supposed" to look like. XD Her fame is well-deserved. Long live Derperella!

  3. That is hilarious. I hope you post updates on how Derp is doing, because this hen deserves the publicity.

    I had a rooster named Jar Jar Binks once. He was loud and stupid and came to an untimely end. Unfortunately, the film version did not. :-D

  4. Somehow the last picture reminds me of Dr. Robotnik (The Eggman, what madness is this?