Thursday 2 May 2013

Chicken Friendships

Yesterday I said a sad farewell to my Gorgeous Girl.
She was the last of our second batch of 20 rescued free rangers, a truly scrawny chicken who was given her name in the most ironic fashion, she was the scrawniest, scruffiest of the bunch when we picked them up from the farm that was going out of business.
  Ironic then that she grew to be the most gorgeous girl in my eyes.
She strode around Chicken World forging friendships with so many of the other girls, never seeming to 'hang out' with any one chicken or group the most.  She melded herself into all our lives, both human and chicken.
For the last few weeks she has been going down that all too familiar path that chicken keepers and lovers will easily recognise, of keeping to herself that little bit more, relishing the little she ate and drank, making the most of any ray of sunshine that came her way and tucking herself up nice and early for a good long sleep every night.
We thought we were right on the verge of losing her the other week she slept away most of the day and seemed lethargic and not herself.  Then I picked up our little rescue battery hen, and Gorgeous Girl seemed to recognise a kindred spirit, although one she most definitely wanted to dominate. 
She rallied round magnificently, and yes they met without a fence in between them, as all the new girls have been running with the rest of the flock for over a week now.  They met, introduced themselves and decided that they could live together in harmony.  But there was no fight left in Gorgeous Girl anyway, she gradually started to wind down that clock of hers again.
Yesterday when I went over first thing, she had struggled to get out of the nesting box and had fallen.  When you see a chicken with her bum and leg in the air and face down you expect her to be dead, but when I picked her up she chirruped, that gentle sound that chickens do infrequently, mostly to their young, as if to say to me 'thank you for sparing my dignity'.  I cuddled her and set her down more comfortably in the nesting box, saying my goodbyes as I did.  I put the lid down and went about filling up the drinkers and feeders, and lo and behold five minutes later who should be slowly and very carefully walking her way down the ramp ...... my Gorgeous Girl.
She slowly walked over to the drinker where I was and sat herself down in the sunshine dipping her beak in the fresh cold water.  I got her a handful of corn and she tentatively pecked enjoying the tiniest meal of her life.  I left her there happy in the sunshine and went about my normal chores.
Gorgeous Girl with Poppy and Daisy
Why have I called this post 'Chicken Friendships', well for the last two weeks each night Gorgeous Girl has been sleeping in the nesting box and tucked up with her has been Poppy, one of our Lavender Pekin Bantams.  In the nesting box on the other side has been Daisy, Poppy's sister.  Normally all three of them would have slept on the roosting bars but with Gorgeous Girl obviously not too good on her feet when asleep it would appear her friends had decided to join her in the new sleeping arrangements.  I hadn't even realised they were friends!!
When I went back to the henhouse later yesterday morning, all three were sat in the nesting boxes, Daisy sat in her usual sleeping place but upright and alert, and Poppy cuddled up against the dead body of her friend.  I shooed Daisy out of the house and tried to do the same with Poppy, I don't like the other birds to see me removing their friends bodies, she was not for moving.   So I carefully lifted out the body of my Gorgeous Girl and instantly Poppy gave forth a sound I have never heard from a chicken before, a shriek of absolute heartfelt anguish, it breaks my heart just typing those words, almost as much as it had broken the heart of Poppy losing her friend.
Whether you are chicken or human to have known that bond, that link, that love is an amazing thing.
It's so nice to be reminded of the power of love, and the effect it and we can have on another when we take the time to share it.
Poppy and Daisy were on the roosting bars again last night tucked up with Newbie, our other Lavender Pekin and are now back running with their other friends and enjoying the sunshine this morning, but no doubt deep in their chickeny hearts and minds a little bit of love remains for their friend.
RIP Gorgeous Girl xx
Sue xx


  1. A really touching post Sue. Animals are so special and capable of giving so much love to other animals and ourselves. RIP Gorgeous girl. I'm sure she's had a fabulous life whilst living with you.

  2. A very touching post Sue, thank you for sharing xx

  3. I get very attached to my girls too. I've lost three of my youngest ones since Easter which is upsetting. (The older ones are doing very well.)

  4. Oh Sue, i dont know whats wrong with me lately. Im reading your story with tears in my eyes. Such a lovely post and a beautiful friendship. Im looking forward to having my own and observing the wonderful world of chickens.

  5. I too read this post with tears in my eyes, it was so touching. I don't have chickens but I've had various other animals and I've seen the friendships they've developed with other animals and the real loss they seem to feel. Sad day for you too. x

  6. Dear Sue
    This was a lovely and very moving post. If only we could all be looked after so well in our final days/hours and have a gentle death. RIP Gorgeous Girl.
    Best wishes

  7. Fighting back the tears here too - what an amazing post. I'm glad she had such a peaceful last few days, with so many friends, both avian and human - surrounding and caring for her.

  8. I too am fighting back the tears for your loss, on Tuesday I had to pts my 12 year old dog Jack (RIP ) I live very close to you probably , I live in Caversham heights, and would love to live a more rural life. I have so many things I would ask you if I ever had the chance. I read your blog everyday because you are so inspiring. Regards Karan

  9. Thank you for all these lovely comments. I didn't mean to make so many of you tearful, and I apologise, but I think it's nice to know that there can be so much love and emotion between birds and animals. I brought a tear to my own eye reading it back again just now.

    Now I'm off out to enjoy the sunshine and give all the girls a treat of some extra corn before I get stuck into preparations in the Veggie Patch.

    Karan if you have anything you would like to ask me, feel free to drop me an email, my address is at the very bottom of the Blog page on the left or if it's something I can post about on here feel free to set me off on another long post.

    Lovely Hubby said yesterdays foodie post was far too long, I do ramble at times :-)

  10. Sniff. Of course they make loving friendships, and feel sadness when a friend dies! I cannot understand why some perople ( not you!) can think chickens or any other social animal doesn't feel grief.

    She had a wonderful life with you and died in her sleep, with her friends on either side - what more could anyone ask of death?

    Yarrow hen ( ex batt) is going the same way...daily I expectto find her dead yet daily she keeps on, keeping on. She loves sitting in a patch of sunshine and drinking from the running tap.

    1. It's the sun on their little backs, it keep them wanting to stay with us just that little bit longer, they love it :-)

      I hope Yarrow has as peaceful an end.

    2. So do I - at the moment she is "giving the evil eye" to the new girls through the wire!

  11. Truly a Gorgeous Girl bless her little chicken heart x

  12. People really don't give animals credit do they? Animals feel and love just as we do,but somehow most people don't see it...or refuse to.
    Thank you for loving this sweet girl.
    Jane xxx

  13. I had tears reading that post. What a gorgeous girl indeed. RIP chookie x

  14. A truly sad yet heart warming post, I envy those that are lucky to have animals as there is definitely a unique bond and of course they form friendships and feel grief, they have brains and are very social creatures.

    A Gorgeous Girl in all aspects RIP xx

  15. Living around animals can be very humbling. Intelligence and emotion are easy to spot. What makes us think we're so special?

    Sorry for your loss Sue. Jx

  16. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so pleased that Gorgeous Girl lived out her life with humans who gave her the best life she could have hoped for, and chickens with whom she had such a special bond.

  17. very emotional -we do get attached to our animals, she was a lucky girl living with you all, thank you for sharing

  18. What a lovely, moving piece of writing. Lucky Gorgeous Girl to have such good friends, including you. x

  19. I have one going the same way chin up x

  20. I've only been reading your blog for a few weeks, I don't know you and I don't keep chickens. Over the years we've lost pets and reading your post has made me very tearful,don't apologise, it was truly beautiful and you conveyed your love and Daisy and Poppys love for Georgous Girl so well. Although upset , it was an absolute pleasure to read x

  21. Me too - I have just come in for a cup of tea and don't expect my old girl to still be with us when I return to check on her. She has been slowly going downhill for a few weeks, but it is my little JR that seems to know it is near the end for her - she never really bothers with them too much but she is keeping a constant vigil on this one, running straight to her every time I let her out. Animals clearly know more than we think they do :-(. Sorry you lost your little friend Sue xx

  22. I actually cried over this heart felt post, you conveyed the whole older chicken passing proccess so well ... have been there . I know some think it's silly to cry over chickens but I still do.

  23. I never cull my chookies - they end their lives naturally. Then I put them under a new tree I plant in the house paddock(always facing east). I have 9 girls at present but they are all getting on and the egg count is down but they are safe from the chop. My other chookie is blind (lowest in the pecking order I suspect) so she has her own area where she hears the others but cant be attacked. I have no idea how long she will live but she still looks good apart from the eyes, that is. Joy

  24. Thank goodness for people like you who rescue these hens and give them a wonderful end to their lives. You should be very proud, she had a lovely life with you.

    Much love
    FIB. X

  25. What a sweet post about your lovely girl. Thank you for giving her a good home for the end of her days, full of love and sunshine.


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