Journey to a smallholding


May 2017

Goodbye to Rusty

During the fox attack, when Barney was taken from us, Rusty was also injured.

She was left with wounds around her tail feather and bum. I could tell she wasn’t in a good way. 

I kept an eye on her yesterday, half hoping she’d recover, half expecting her to die. 

This morning, when we let them out, she was visbly worse and had suffered a full prolapse. I don’t know if it was the wounds or the shock that caused it, or a complete coincidence. But I knew I couldn’t leave her like that.

I called my local vet, Haydons Vetenary Centre in Bridport (, and they fitted me in. They are fantastic there, I’ve been taking my cat there for years, but it’s the first time I’ve visited with a chicken.

Unfortunately it wasn’t good news for Rusty, the kindest thing was to put her to sleep. I said my goodbyes and left her there. It broke my heart. Many would say “it’s only a chicken”, but to me they are pets regardless of the type of animal.

I take them on to love them, care for them and give them the best life possible. They are my children.

Rusty was an ex-battery hen rescued and rehomed by Taylors Rehoming Centre in Dorchester ( We got her and Violet ( known as the oven ready twins!) last October. In that time Rusty has had a fantastic retirement, laid an egg every day without fail, had a fantastic character and became my favourite girl. 

I miss her already. But I know she had a good time here and I did what was best for her.

Goodbye to my Rusty girl.


Goodbye to Barney

This morning my husband went to let the girls out, it was 5:30am ish. He came running back in the house to get me.

The girls were already out of their house and in their run when he’d got there.

Except Barney.

The door to the pen had been busted in, and Barney’s feathers were all over the lawn, leading to a hole that had been dug under the fence.

Barney had gone, and a fox had taken her.

The other 4 remained, but were very subdued. Further investigation showed that Rusty had also been injured, with tears along her tail and what looks like a prolapse.

I spent all day cleaning the mess, keeping an eye on them and checking they didn’t curl up and die from shock. That can happen with chickens.

It was mid day before I  noticed that Violet was limping. There’s no sign of a wound, so I’m hoping it’s just a sprain.

Rusty isn’t looking well.

We’ve reinforced the pen, added extra bolts and latches. Burried a board under tbe bottom of the fence and secured it so the fox can’t dig under it again. But I’m still scared to go to bed tonight. Now the fox knows there’s chickens here, he’ll come back.

The girls wouldn’t go to bed tonight. They were too scared to go back into their house. That broke me. That, and the fact that earlier in the day one of them still laid an egg despite everything. 

We caught each one and put them to bed. And now we wait.

Wait to see if the fox comes back. Wait to see if Rusty makes it through the night.

We’re lucky, foxes normally slaughter them all for fun. This one was hungry and took what he needed. But that doesn’t make it any easier. 

Yesterday they had a wonderful day, roaming the garden for the second time. Barney enjoyed mooching and digging in the flower beds, which I allowed because she looked happy. I’m glad they all had that time together.

Goodbye Barney blackbird. You are missed.

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