Dr. Nikki Gorman is a well-known, much loved Westport pediatrician.
What may be less known is that she loves chickens.
And raises them.
Her hobby began with CT Rent-a-Hen. They deliver everything you need. You get them for 3 months, with an option to renew.
Unfortunately, a predator got into the henhouse. They all perished — except for the fastest, wiliest chicken, named Duck.
It stayed close to the yard, but off her property — sometimes in trees. Nikki spent 2 weeks trying to catch it.
Finally, her neighbor Jennifer Greely offered her daughter’s help. Maeve arrived with chicken-catching gear (including a blanket), and a big smile.
Within a couple of hours, she had caught Duck. Jen offered to nurse it back to health, in her garage. Nikki happily agreed.
Several months later, Duck is still with Maeve. It is completely rehabbed, and integrated into her large group.
Nikki told Maeve that she’d be opening Westport Medical & Wellness Center, behind the CVS parking lot on Whitney Street. There was a yard, where Nikki wanted chickens. After all, they’re very calming, and produce wonderful eggs.
Maeve offered to handpick the right chickens. And, she said, she would order them herself — and grow them to where they could successfully live outside the pen.
Nikki visited often, and bonded with the chickens Maeve was raising.
It’s a great story. And, Nikki adds, at the end: Maeve is only 10 years old!
Maeve’s mother Jen adds some background.
Maeve was just 3 when she and her mom (and a chicken) did a “Caregiver and Me” class at Wakeman Town Farm. Jen was not ready for chickens, so instead she got Maeve a puppy.
At 6, the youngster began raising chickens. Her passion grew, even when a raccoon killed many of her chicks. One was maimed so badly, it lost a wing. Maeve gave it round-the-clock pain meds and antibiotics, and cared for it until its death 3 1/2 years later.
At 7, she had her own booth at the Maker Faire.
“We call Maeve ‘the chicken whisperer,'” Jen says. “She really seems to understand their personalities, sounds, and the social dynamics of a flock.
“I asked her what it is about chickens that draws her to them. She said that people think they’re stupid, but they have a very strong social support structure, and each chicken is accepted into the flock for who they are.
“Maeve used Nikki’s chicken Duck as an example. She said when she was getting Duck strong enough to integrate into the flock, only one other hen came to peck Duck, as a way to put her in her place.
“But that quickly ended. The other chickens just ignored Duck — which rarely happens. Maeve said this is because the other chickens could tell that Duck had been traumatized by having to survive in the wild alone.
“Maeve said the other chickens recognized that Duck wasn’t a threat to the flock pecking order. She just needed to feel safe and be with others.”
Jen adds, “Honestly, isn’t that what all of us, chicken or human, need in this world?