In The Garden

A Loss and An Arrival

This is a hard post for me to write. It was originally drafted a few weeks ago and titled ‘Life in the Coop’ and it was intended to document our first few months of life with our chickens. Sadly two weeks ago, one of our lovely chickens passed away. Betty was a beautiful, young Cuckoo Maran who joined us at the start of the year.

Our original girls, Betty is pictured in the centre.

When we got chickens I was totally unprepared for how attached I would become to them! I assumed that since they weren’t ‘pets’ who would live in my house and join me on the sofa when Fred was out I wouldn’t get to know them as individuals and wouldn’t bond with them. I was an idiot! A mistaken idiot! It turns out that when you tuck someone in every night and chat with them every morning and collect their eggs and do the million other things you do to care for your birds, you become pretty attached! Needless to say, opening the coop and finding our girl lifeless was and still is a horrible shock.

At first I was embarrassed by the extremes of my ugly, Kim Kardashian crying. But then I realised that the great thing about being an adult is that your feelings are your own and you can feel whatever the hell you want without having to justify it, or apologise for it or excuse it in favour of more appropriate ones. Feelings are yours to feel! For several days (weeks?) I was wracked by guilt that I hadn’t done enough to keep her safe and happy, it was awful! And I still feel guilty and get really anxious that something bad is happening to our girls.

Without Betty our coop was horribly divided, Biddy her little buddy really had no one to hang out with, Zsa Zsa and Joan (our Silkies) spend most of their days preening each other leaving our last Maran marooned. I couldn’t bear how lonely she looked, so we got her a companion! Polly was intended to be our last chicken, but it turned out that she had a pal of her own who wasn’t doing too well without her, so Polly was soon followed by Penny.

Polly makes her arrival

Polly and Penny are Wyandottes, a large and ostentatiously glamorous bird! Fred’s first reaction was to burst out laughing and compare them to old ladies, however he soon shut up when he saw the size of their eggs! As a breed they are known for being docile, which is certainly true of Polly. Unfortunately Penny embodies the slightly rarer defining trait of the Wyandotte and is mildly vicious! But she will come round, with enough mealworms how could she not! This breed has a slight tendency to go broody which could be a problem as I seem to have a knack for bringing out the broody in a chicken, so fingers crossed we can avoid that as I’ve no doubt Fred’s eyeing their drumsticks!

Penny is gigantic, perhaps she is an ostrich in disguise?

Introducing Polly was fairly easy, she was happy and curious about her new surroundings. Penny on the other hand terrorized the other girls and actually had to be put into solitary confinement to calm down! She also made a few attempts a escape but seems to have settled in now.

I hate writing about Betty’s passing in the same post as Polly and Penny’s arrival, it feels disrespectful, but I try to keep some perspective (despite the keening) that the girls are, after all, just chickens. Mostly I fail. Betty was a brilliant bird and has in no way been replace, because she was one of the first I’ll always have a spot in my heart for her, a lovely little laying lady. Rest in peace Betty, thank you for the eggs.

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