"I hope to share Peanut’s message that even if you’re rejected or might feel like a misfit, you can still find someone to bond with and have a long, productive life,” the hen’s owner told 'The Washington Post'
Peanut is the world’s oldest chicken.
Marsi Parker Darwin now considers the bird part of her family but if the retired Michigan librarian had not discovered Peanut trapped in a seemingly rotten egg 21 years ago, she would not be alive to claim her title, according to The Washington Post.
Over two decades ago, Darwin, now 71, stumbled upon a rotten, abandoned chicken egg that she believed would not hatch. She was ready to throw the egg into a pond (where it would become turtle food) when she heard a sound from within it.
“I heard a second chirp, and I realized that the chick was alive and didn’t seem to have an egg tooth to get out of its shell,” she told The Post, an observation she made after seeing a tiny, barely visible crack in the egg’s exterior.
After she “gently peeled her out of the egg,” she saw the brown, speckled bird that would become her companion for the first time.
“There was this wet little mess sitting in my hand,” she recalled of the moment.
When Peanut’s mother refused to accept her, Darwin decided she would care for her. She put the newborn chick under a heat lamp and taught her to eat and drink.
With a little TLC, the bird grew, but her weight peaked at around a pound, which is only one-third of the size of the farmer’s other chickens, according to The Post. The “misfit” bird's small stature is what earned her the name "Peanut" but — clearly — size is not everything.
In January, at age 20, Peanut was crowned the world's oldest living chicken by Guinness World Records. She turned 21 in May.
“The average chicken lives five to eight years, so it’s quite the achievement,” Darwin said of her plucky hen’s high honor.
While the bird does not let her newfound fame get to her head, she has always been a bit of a diva.
“Peanut is a sassy little chicken — if she doesn’t get her blueberry yogurt in the morning, I definitely hear about it,” she told The Post, adding that the “healthy” and “spoiled” hen also loves grapes and bananas.
But the fowl also has a softer side.
“She’s a friendly character and she pretty much gets along with everyone, including our dogs and cats,” Darwin told the outlet.
During the winter, she tucks Peanut into her front jacket pocket while she completes her chores — she lives on a no-kill farm with dogs, cats and birds — and even though the hen moves very slowly now, she always comes when Darwin calls her name. She's also a cuddler.
“Peanut loves to sit in my lap and watch TV,” the farmer said of the bird. “I think she just likes the warmth of snuggling up.”
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Though Peanut now lives with Darwin and her husband Bill — the hen and her 15-year-old daughter Millie have a coop in the living room — she did not always live inside.
After spending her first few years in the living room, Darwin decided it was time for Peanut to move in with the coop.
Although she found a “ragtag crew to hang out with,” the tiny hen fielded a bit of harassment from the other chickens, Darwin told The Post. Over a decade and lots of chicks later, Peanut decided outdoor life was not for her anymore.
On a cold day six years ago, the chicken followed her owner onto the screen porch and refused to go back outside. “We had an old parrot cage stored there, so I put some straw and food and water in it, and that was it,” Darwin said. “She had picked her home for the winter.”
For several years, Peanut refused to return to the coop — and even brought pals with her.
One day she approached the screen porch with “a little line behind her,” according to Darwin. “Four other chickens also wanted in.”
“Chickens don’t get a lot of credit — they are really smart,” she told The Post. “They knew it was warmer there.”
As time passed and Peanut got older, she decided that the hen could move inside, and she set up permanent, window-facing quarters for her and Millie in the living room. The mother-daughter hen duo still goes outside when it’s warm.
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Peanut's life has inspired Darwin so much that she self-published a children’s book about the hen, titled: My Girl Peanut and Me — On Love and Life From the World’s Oldest Chicken.
Hopefully, there are a lot of pages left in Peanut’s underdog story. “I’m pretty fond of the old girl and I hope she sees several more birthdays,” Darwin told The Post of her feathery companion.
Regardless, the Michigan farmer hopes that fans of Peanut take something away from her life other than its record-breaking longevity.
Darwin hopes “to share Peanut’s message that even if you’re rejected or might feel like a misfit, you can still find someone to bond with and have a long, productive life."
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