I began my amazing journey with chickens in the most unexpected way.
I came home one morning and found a beautiful hen wondering quite happily around my garden ~ and not even bothering that my two feline friends Gemma and Skye were looking on with great curiosity at this new arrival.
She was happily scratching around under my orange tree. When i decided to get a little closer she stopped her foraging and looked at me. I continued to walk slowly towards her and then she moved a few steps away from me, stopped and looked at me for a good few minutes. I expected her to suddenly run away but instead she just lay down!
I again moved closer, but she got up and this time she ran across the garden. I decided to bring my cats inside and watch her from my kitchen window, to see what she would do next.
All the while i was wondering where she had come from. I thought she might be hungry and went outside with a piece of apple for her, which she ate. She was still in the garden when my son came home from school a few hours later. Between us, we managed to approach her slowly.
I caught her and gently lifted her over our fence to see if she would find her way home. Beyond our garden is a small hill, and I know that there are a few houses on the hill, so maybe she had wandered away and would head back from where she came. I never expected to go out into the garden about ten minutes later and find her back!
And then she never left again, and we had our first chicken!
Never having kept chickens before, she slept outside in our pear tree for the first couple of nights. When we knew she was staying I decided it was time to get prepared.
I read online all I could, visited the pet shop for food for her and came home with nearly every book I could find in the local library! I read feverishly to understand the needs of my newly acquired friend. My husband kept saying "are you sure you want to keep her?" but I had made up my mind and she had obviously made up hers.
Next again day my husband came home with a coop and, together with my two sons, built what was to become known as 'The Hen Hole.' She moved out of the pear tree and into her new home - and that was three and a half years ago!
My youngest son named her 'Chicken' because he could not think of a better name, so 'Chicken' it was :)
She was, I discovered from all my reading, a 'brown shaver.' We had no idea how old she was, but we knew we had to get her a friend. So one became two when we got another and decided to simply call her 'Feathers' :)
They quickly became the best of friends and were inseparable, free ranging around our garden. I would move bits of wood and branches for them to find a worm or bug and I quickly discovered their love of grapes which were to become their all time favourite treat. :)
They were together for two years and I loved them so much. They brought the garden to life and I would be greeted every time I opened the gate as they ran to see me, always hoping from a grape.
Then 'Feathers' became very ill and sadly passed away only 24 hours after I had noticed any symptoms. I joined a local online forum and discovered that she had most likely been 'egg bound.' I was so sad and to see 'Chicken' looking for her friend broke my heart.
I was comforted from kind messages from people on the forum who assured me there was nothing I could have done. I knew despite my sorrow we had to find 'Chicken' a new friend as her loneliness was becoming very evident. I grieved for my beautiful 'Feathers.' She was buried under our large pear tree. She had such an amazing character and I miss her every day. She is always close in my thoughts.
We made the decision that maybe it would be better to get 'Chicken' a couple of new friends and that is what we did. We found two beautiful girls who we named 'Haggis' and 'Neeps' (as I am Scottish).
There was to follow a week of pecking order issues with 'Chicken' becoming the leader as she strutted around the garden with her two new friends. It was a joy to watch all three become so close over the coming days and enjoying dust baths and foraging happily together.
They were together every single day for nearly two years before sadness struck again when my beloved friend 'Chicken' passed away. She was so special to me and my family having started us on this incredible journey giving unconditional love every single day. I take comfort from the fact she came into my life for a reason and I gave her a happy and loving home. She was so loved and tears fill my eyes as I write about her now.
But only 12 days after losing 'Chicken' we were dealt another blow when 'Haggis' mysteriously became ill. Despite our best efforts she passed away on a beautiful sunny day under her favourite tree with her friend 'Neeps' lying by her side.
I stroked her gently and told her it was okay to go and be with her friend 'Chicken,' to catch bugs together. She quietly went to sleep.
And I now have only my beautiful girl 'Neeps' and my journey has come full circle as I look for a new friend for her.
I write my story today in honour of the love and friendship I have been so privileged to have shared with my feathered friends, each with a unique personality. They will stay with me always in my thoughts and in my heart.
My journey continues now with 'Neeps' as together we welcome another friend to our garden and i know my three beautiful girls will be watching over us. You were all so loved and I was honoured to have you for the short time we had together.
I want to end my story by saying a thank you to a close friend who has helped me so much despite us living so far apart geographically. Your kind words and beautiful quotes lifted my spirits and I was able to keep my girls memories alive through the stories i shared with you.
In loving memory of my friends Chicken, Feathers and Haggis. Thank you for the times we shared.
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