The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

If you keep livestock you will always have dead stock

very young Dixie Chick

very young Dixie Chick

S told me this a few months ago. The livestock part is great and the dead stock element is always upsetting.

One of the most satisfying things for us is to raise our own stock. The bond between you and the young is much stronger. You have waited impatiently through the gestation period to marvel at their first faltering steps. Each small life becomes part of your life.  We are not commercial producers and our diminutive flock insures that each member is cherished.

Dixie Chick seemed to recover well from her bout of chestiness but two days ago I noticed that she was sneezing and shaking her head in between bullying her brother and acting like a busy young chick. Dixie and Beatyl enjoyed a close relationship. There was always a cheep and a soft reassuring answering cheep when I lowered the portcullis after dark.

Honey is a natural antibiotic, so a warm honey infused mash was served in the castle grounds. Dixie was enthusiastic about this treat. But despite this her feathers were puffed up and she just didn’t look right.
“If she survives this frosty week. I reckon that she’ll be OK,” Tessa remarked as we watched the young chickens. “Although a sick bird is generally a dead bird in my books.”

This morning, Mrs Boss and Beatyl rushed from the Emerald Castle to enjoy the warm mash. I opened the side of the castle wall and discovered that Dixie had died during the night. She was lying in the newspaper nest, quite cold.

Dixie Cick and Mrs Boss yesterday

Dixie Chick and Mrs Boss yesterday

We’re upset. We were fond of this beautiful little chick but are now more concerned about Beatyl. He has lost his playmate. When he is a bit more mature we plan to buy him a beautiful Golden Sebright wife. But until that time he just has the companionship of Mrs Boss.

When I went down to the castle this evening there was no cheep.

Just a deep silence.

  Leave a reply


  1. hi fiona, i was just reading your blog, searching the chicken advice as my mum and dads chicken has a bad foot and realised that you had just posted this sad news….I’m sorry you lost Dixie Chick, she was lovely! I hope Beatyl does ok – I’ll be thinking of you.

  2. Jane aka:aromatic

    Sorry to hear about Dixie Chick. Its all very upsetting and I really feel for Beatyl. I hope he gets over the loss of his playmate very soon.
    Life seems to deal some hard blows at times!
    Jane xxx

  3. Oh Fiona, I just knew this was going to be bad when I read the title of the post and I didn’t want to read any more. I can’t believe Dixie Chick succumbed. I felt like she was just a little bit mine having named her, is that weird? I’m going to bed all sad now. I’m so sorry.

  4. That’s so sad. Hope Beatyl cheers up soon. Good job Mrs Boss is such a good mum. I expect she’s giving him extra cuddles in the castle at night.

  5. magic cochin

    How very sad Fiona – I’m always full of dread when one of the hens is ill. It often ends in a sad death as birds are so difficult to diagnose and treat successfully. Our ‘Head Girl’ Ruby is off colour and not wanting her breakfast … I so concerned.

    This week has been harsh for all our birds – so sad Dixie Chick wasn’t quite strong enough.


  6. Veronica

    Oh Fiona. The post title already made my heart sink, and I’m so sorry to hear about Dixie Chick. It must be so upsetting after all the care and cherishing she had. I hope Beatyl cheers up without her.

  7. Scintilla

    It is sad when you lose livestock. You get to know them individually. My sister has a Chook (Australian for hen) graveyard at the bottom of her garden. So many succomb to the fox.

  8. Hi everyone – whilst looking for a bit late xmas cake receipe I came across this very lovely and useful site.
    I got married in Sept last year and me and hubby (Matt) have moved into a 300 yr old lodge with a good sized garden/wild area that is damp, creaky, and totally enchanting. The central heating takes the edge off the cold but is not effective at heating such a drafty building. The dehumidifier has been on in the bedroom for a year and we now have lots of jumpers and thermal undies!!
    We set up a herb garden, a flower garden have got two apple trees in, a kiwi fruit plant, chilli peppers, and have had two lots of potatoes. We’ll be taking delivery of a green house soon and over the next year want to try and start growing more veggies.
    I’ve really enjoyed reading everything here and although we can’t be classed as small holders or even particularly self-sustaining (yet)this website has given me lots of hpoe and inspiration.
    Bright blessings to you all.

  9. samantha winter

    So sad to loose a little baby chick. Life is so fragile.

  10. I feel for you. Poor Dixie Chick

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