Hen is Boykins retiree’s special friend

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

BOYKINS—Bob Andrews knows when he awakes each day that he will have at least one girl eating out of his hand.

His Rhode Island Red is not the only chicken on the grounds, but she is the only one perched on his walker, waiting for a handful of corn.

&uot;I was born with a chicken in my hand,&uot; Andrews said, explaining that his family, natives of Southampton County, grew up on a farm.

The 73-year-old retired from Sykes Hatchery in Boykins in 2002, after 35 years of service.

&uot;I worked mostly in the office at the hatchery,&uot; he said. &uot;They raised chickens and sold eggs.&uot;

After all those years, he never tired of the domestic fowl, keeping bantams and reds on his property as pets.

&uot;I give eggs to friends,&uot; he said. &uot;It provides them with grins.&uot;

When Andrews started out his back door into the yard, a ruckus ensued in the chicken house. The animals knew he was on the way to let them out for a morning roam.

Breaking away from the crowd of birds, the unnamed hen followed Andrews back to the house, smacking her wings against the screen door as he shook a cup of corn at her from the other side.

&uot;You want some corn, girl?&uot; he asked her, as he went back outside with her treat.

Flying up onto his walker, the red hen made no bones about her affection for breakfast.

This is actually the second of his red hens to accompany him on walks about the yard.

&uot;She’s kin to the other one,&uot; Andrews said. &uot;But this one has a different disposition.&uot;

The first hen to ride the walker passed away last year.

&uot;They’ve got a little more sense than I do,&uot; he said. &uot;They stay here and get a meal ticket every day.&uot;