Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The farm is a quiet place this morning......

The farm is a quiet place this morning, the cockerels crowed briefly and have now gone completely silent. At this time of the morning the girls are laying and there is usually a cacophony of sounds, arguing over nesting boxes and screaming for the best worm or bug found in the dew ladened grass, but today you could cut the stillness with a knife.
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When I opened the doors this morning, house number two girls (which I open first) came down the ramp with the usual jostling and arguing over who had right of way, Norman crowed and thudded down off his perch, there's no graceful dismount when you're as heavy as he is!
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Then I opened house number one, I knew immediately that Lovely was with us no more. The girls trouped silently and carefully down the ramp and dispersed quickly to the feeders, All the birds went quiet and the cockerels stopped crowing. I opened the nesting box lid and there she was, lying deathly still in her nest box, warm to the touch and soft, she had only been gone a short while...and in the nesting box next to her, resting her head on the edge so she could watch her friend was Molly.
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I have never seen a chicken SO devastated. There is no other word to describe her. I carefully lifted Molly out and sat her next to the water drinker so she wouldn't see me take Lovely away and then picked her up to give her a cuddle. She closed her eyes in resignation and I knew then that if I didn't act quickly she would be joining her best friend very soon.
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While I was carrying her she seemed to 'pull herself together' and her eyes were suddenly sharp again, hopeful then. I brought her into the house for a while and set her down in her favourite spot, next to the dog bowls, she helped herself to some meaty chunks and even Rosy, more subdued than usual, seemed to feel the chickens' need to eat and didn't sit growling while her food was being nibbled at.
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After half an hour in the house I took her back to join her pals, but she is a solitary figure, hunched into herself. I hope she can pull herself round from this but she is elderly for an ex-commercial free-ranger, their little bodies are pushed to the limits for the first 14 months and then usually they are turned into pet food. At least she has had an additional couple of years with the sun on her back and the freedom to roam but I would like her to have a little more. So sad that Lovely is gone, although her end was the most peaceful of ends, now I am on 'Molly watch'.
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Molly, Lovely and Big Lovely during their first month on the farm in June 2009.
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The reason for the 'Lovely' names, is that when we were naming the birds, we managed the first seven names very easily and then we had three that were identical. I said 'but they're all lovely so what do we call them' and thus they became the 'Three Lovelies'. Shortly after, one of them was taken by a fox and the remaining two became Big Lovely and Little Lovely because that was what they were. When Big Lovely died last year, Little Lovely seemed to grow in stature and she became simply 'Lovely'. And now there are no more Lovelies on the farm....so sad.
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I'll be back later with my Live Below the Line update.
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Sue xx

11 comments:

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of one of your Lovely girls. We have lost hens, most sadly my 'Bog Mama' who was the fattest, most beautiful RIR who kept everyone else in line. I loved her and was heartbroken when she was gone. Will be keeping Molly in my thoughts.

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  2. Aw Sue - such a sad post that it's bought a tear to my eye. I'm such a wuss where animals are concerned. I do hope that Molly picks up after her period of mourning. Big hugs xx

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  3. Oh I have a tear in my eye too. On the one hand I am pleased that Lovely went so peacefully but dear little Molly.... Hope she keeps her strength up, thinking of you too x

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  4. Although one hen is currently having a 'squawking session' all the rest are still eirily quite including both Cockerels.

    Molly is indoors tucked up next to the Aga, I think she is losing the will to live. I will keep her in until the day warms up a bit more and then take her back to be with her friends.

    Sue xx

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  5. Sorry to hear about Lovely, I hope Molly will be ok soon.

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  6. Oh poor little Molly. Animals grieve too, and it is heartbreaking to watch.
    Jane x (XX for Molly)

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  7. O sue i'm sorry..i won't read this one to the tots..they were so distraught when our mabel passed and then minnie not long after..just got my fingers crossed for molly..
    love
    sara,fern,iris

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  8. Im so sorry Sue x
    Animals are so much more than just pets or meat providers.
    FM x

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  9. Hope Molly is ok.
    Your post was very sad and yet wonderful too.

    Sft x

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  10. I found your blog via LBTL on facebook - we are getting our first hens next week an your post has made my shed a little tear :(

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  11. Rachel - I wasn't meaning to upset everyone, just show how in 'chicken world' the same emotions happen for chickens as happens for us in ours.

    Whatever you do don't let the thought of losing your chickens put you off getting them. My relationship with the original 10 birds has been the best I have had with any 'pet'.

    They are fascinating birds, the antics they get up to, the eggs that they give you and the fun times you have watching and inter-acting with them more than makes up for the sorrow at losing them.

    That yuo feel sorrow when they go just shows how they interwine with your life and briefly make your world a better place.

    Molly is still with us today but still hunched and very 'sad'.

    Sue xx

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