The saga of the chickens

Apologies for my absence,  we’ve been away this week camping in rural Pembrokeshire, soaking up sun, sea and sand. I fully intended to share some photos and memories of the trip but they’ll have to wait as a matter arose upon our return that I thought I’d share.

The week before our holiday we had our first clucking casualty. Sophia and I had gone searching for eggs mid afternoon only to spy one of them looking distinctly unwell.  We summoned Dan, (working from home) who agreed that she didn’t look right. She couldn’t hold her head up and couldn’t stand, was just kind of rolling around.  Cue us asking our kind neighbour who happens to be a vet to take a look and she confirmed what we thought, the chook was dying.

I asked if we needed to put her out of her misery and upon her agreement I took Sophia out of the enclosure so Dan could do the deed. Under instruction he wrung her neck. Unpleasant but necessary.  Unfortunately though, also rather inefficient as the chicken was still alive.  Our vet friend then had a go… definitely still alive. But all agreed she must be in her death throes so we went in to save the almost cremated dinner, leaving her under a box whilst she departed.

After dinner we went down to the bottom field and dug a hole in which to bury her. Isaac and Sophia brought their spades as well! By now, Sophia’s initial upset (as it was her chicken, Ruby Redbum-the only chook we’d named) had passed and was now replaced by intense curiosity in the whole process.

Dan went to get the body only to find (and this is where it starts getting ridiculous) that she was still alive. It was at this point that I was so incredibly thankful that he had taken lead in the role of chicken dispatching.  He tried wringing her neck again it was most definitely fully dislocated and broken.  We didn’t want to leave her in pain so Dan got the hammer, thinking a swift blow to the head would, ahem, finish the job. She seemed to twitch a bit but we thought we were finally successful. By this point though the kids were late for bed and I was late to go out so we popped a box over her and planned to reconvene when kids were asleep.

I got back from homebirth group a couple of hours later and popped to the enclosure only to see the box moved. I thought the other hens might have been inquisitive and so put the box back only for her to flap her wings and let out a strangled noise. I let Dan know and with heavy hearts we got the axe. After a few horrendous blows she was finally, definitely dead and we were able to bury her. Dan and I were both fairly disturbed by the whole encounter!

But the next morning the shock had subsided, Sophia put flowers on the ‘grave’ and we thought nothing more of it.

However, we returned from holiday to discover another had died in our absence and two had escaped. One was found living in the greenhouse but the other remained stubbornly hidden for several days. We assumed a fox must have got her. Then I let them out yesterday morning and there she was with the others, leaving me completely confused about where she had hidden!!

The greenhouse escapee is now living by herself in our garden. She seems much happier by herself; we think the two that died might have died due to stress as Gilbert the cockerel and the older hens can be a bit mean. Only problem is that we don’t have a home for her yet so currently she is sleeping in a cardboard box!

The whole thing has been ridiculous, who would have thought that chickens would caused such fuss and mystery! But all’s well that ends well, Sophia and Isaac are chuffed to have a pet chicken in the garden and they all seem happier. Now we’d better sort out a permanent home before it rains!!



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