Ever since January this year, officer Henry has been strutting around the parking area, approaching cars that need a spot in the parking lot, and greeting students with squawks for about 15 minutes before school hours begin at 8 a.m.
There is a hen in New Zealand that is giving traffic patrol officers a run for their money. Named Henry, the bird knows its duties very well - it is to encourage drivers to use extra caution while parking their cars at the rural Newstead Country Preschool. Ever since January this year, officer Henry has been strutting around the parking area, approaching cars that need a spot in the parking lot, and greeting students with squawks for about 15 minutes before school hours begin at 8 a.m. Aware that little Henry will be somewhere around the parking area patrolling, motorists drive very carefully near the school.
"Mostly, she likes to take her time crossing the drive and inspecting the cars," explained Tracy Trigg, the principal of the preschool which was established by her family in 1997. It has 37 students, reports The Washington Post. Trigg, who also owns a small farm adjacent to the preschool, is the one who dresses up Henry in a fluorescent vest every morning. The 49-year-old explained how the whole thing began when the brown shaver hen flew the coop one fine day and joined the preschooler during playtime on the 15-acre farm. And just like that, she became a celebrity in Newstead when a 9-year-old reporter from Kea Kids News did a story about the unusual security chicken in mid-August.
"There certainly has been a lot of international interest," explained Trigg. "It’s lucky that she’s a humble hen, or it would surely go to her head. Our rooster is a bit jealous of all the attention she is getting." Trigg swears by Henry's effectiveness as reliable traffic control, as far as chickens go. But when the weather's not up to her like, she takes the day off. "She’s a bit of a fair-weather worker, and if it’s raining, she knocks off early," shared Trigg. Henry, who was lovingly named by students, suddenly came into Trigg's life last year after wandering into the living room of her friend and neighbor. At the time, no one was sure where the stray chicken had come from.
"My friend started hand-feeding her because she was quite thin," recalled the principal. "We think she was a rescue hen as her beak had been trimmed, and we found she really loved grated cheese." But as time went by, Henry would sneak into the friend's place and relieve herself on her carpet. Thus, it was decided that she be happier on Trigg's farm. "We popped her into the paddock with the other chickens that weekend. But when all the [preschool] families turned up Monday, she moved herself to the car park," explained Trigg.
When one of the preschoolers was convinced she was his favorite hen from home named Henry, everyone decided to call her that, and "Henry doesn’t seem to mind," she added. As she became more familiar with the place and the preschool, Henry began hanging out in the parking lot in the morning and the staff room around tea and lunchtime. Then Trigg noticed that Henry would squawk at drivers in the parking lot, so she decided to get her a security guard vest. "I thought it would bring smiles to the faces of our parents and teachers, and also highlight to the children that we all need to be safe in the car park and around vehicles," she explained.
Apparently, the hen remains "pretty relaxed" in the morning while wearing the jacket, which is taken off around lunchtime. Henry is now hanging out more with the rest of her flock of 12 hens and others including cows, ponies, a goat, and a small flock of sheep. "They work really well as a team, calming and charming drivers, and Henry’s vest makes sure they are all kept safe as well," said Trigg who is making sure that the hen's stardom does not go to her head. "We can’t let all the stardom go to her head. Or she might start wanting the overpriced tasty cheese instead of the good old economic Colby," she hilariously added.
Cover image source: Facebook | Newstead Country Preschool