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Journey to a smallholding

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December 2017

My little Snowball

Yesterday, exactly a week since Violet died, I found my little Snowball dead in her bed. I was shocked, and cried a lot. I wasn’t expecting her to go yet.

Snowball was one of our original 3. A posh bird bought from Dorset County Show in September 2015. We bought her along with Barney (killed by a fox in May) and Ginger (still with us).

She laid a few eggs in her first year, small and very white shells. But this year I don’t think she laid at all. She decided she was more ornamental and was very good at being the pretty white one.

She had a great character. Although the smallest by far, we think she was the boss, although she was never very quick to the scraps, always beaten by the others. I loved to see her running around the garden. She was also the tamest, allowing us to walk up to her and pick her up and stroke her.

Her feet are purple in the picture above. She had a few issues with her feet, mainly scaley leg, which we would smother in Vaseline, but also a few sore patches that we sprayed with purple wound spray. One day her toe fell off, we have no idea why. But it never seemed to bother her!

For the last month she squeaked when pooing. Comical, but concerning too. The vet checked her and said she was fine, not egg bound, so we let her carry on. It was unusual to hear her like a dog’s squeaky toy but it didn’t seem to be bothering her. She still charged around happily.

She was one of my favourites, such a character that we could forgive her for being a freeloader never laying eggs.

I’ll miss her a lot.

We decided to bury her next to Violet.

Putting the girls to bed last night was very sad. Now we only have to count to three. Ginger seems lonely left with the two relatively new twins that are really quite scatty and the chicken coop seems far too big now.

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Good night Violet

It’s been a little while since my last post. I felt I had nothing to say.

This post is a sad one, as yesterday we said goodbye to Violet, one of our original rescue hens.

Violet was one of a pair of rescue hens that we got straight after our honeymoon in September 2016. They were our first rescue hens, which joined our existing 3 ‘posh birds’.  We called them Rusty and Violet.

Violet got her name as she had quite a bad cut at the base of her tail when we got her (as well as being bald). We had to apply purple wound spray on her back several times, and therefore became Violet. Rusty was named because the few feathers she had, were rusty coloured.

Because of the wound, and the fact all the other chickens picked on her, we didn’t think Violet would make it through the first week. But as time went by, she turned into a lovely fully feathered hen that was friendly and let us stroke her.  Rusty died earlier this year, following a fox attack.

We suspected that Violet had arthritis. When it was particularly cold or wet, she’d hobble about with a limp, and when it was warm and sunny she’d be bounding about fine and enjoying a sunbathe. Her wings were always folded in, not quite right, we suspect from living in a cage that was too small for so long. But on the whole, she was happy, healthy and free.

Over the last few weeks, she’d not been her usual self, looking quite sad and immobile, and we put it down to it being winter and some very cold days recently.

The last two nights, my husband had to put her to bed as she’d hidden under the house, and that’s when we realised she was probably not so well.

Yesterday morning, I sadly found she had passed away inside the house.

As an ex-battery rescue hen, she had over a year of freedom, enjoying her retirement in the free range of our garden. She was a great character, and will be missed. Shutting the girls house at bedtime was sad last night, counting only 4 chickens, instead of five.

She’s also our first chicken body to deal with. Barney was taken by a fox, and Rusty was put to sleep by the vet because of her injuries. Violet is the first to go naturally, which therefore raised the question of ‘What do we do with her body?’.

Someone we know who keeps chickens simply puts them in the dustbin in a carrier bag. As our pet, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. At the farm, my family always wrapped them up and put them on a bonfire, like a cremation, but we can’t build a bonfire in our back garden. So, we dug a hole in the lawn where she loved to sunbathe and have buried her there.

It was dark by the time we were done, so we said our goodbyes and our final ‘Good night Violet.’

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