The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Sometimes there is a balance

Photo: new leghorn chicks - 1 day old

Photo: new leghorn chicks - 1 day old

This morning I woke late, having snoozed past the alarm. I now know that a snooze of an hour or so is a dangerous path to consider. Especially as I have chickens, dogs and Danny to feed and water, plus I need to shower and dress and check the greenhouse and heated indoor propagator and go to work.

The morning buzzes with questions. Have I made the thermos and lunch for work? Will Danny discover his breakfast toast after his conference call? When will our leeks finally germinate?

I shot down to the chicken run and saw a fluffed up body in the bottom floor of the hen house. It was Mrs Squeaky Clean. The little dead body was quite cold and stiff.

Mrs Squeaky was a pekin bantam. A sister of Mrs Boss. But Mrs S was not interested in raising a brood. If she had been human she would have been a true Clairn’s girl. She was 98% focussed on her appearance. Her feathers were always whiter than white. She rarely appeared in the muddy run and preferred to roost well away from any chance of getting the teeniest bit dirty.

I walked back to the cottage with a heavy heart.
“I’m afraid there’s bad news. Mrs Squeaky is dead.”
Danny spun round in his chair.
“Oh no! We’ve lost four chickens in the last few months. I suppose that our older chickens will be dying now. They must be at least seven years old?”
“Two were quite young when they died.”
“Some hens are delicate and susceptible to bugs and viruses, I guess.”

Then within the hour an email arrived from Caroline. Two chicks had hatched from the clutch that they are raising for us . By dusk the count was four. We are delighted and so appreciate Caroline’s generosity.

“It’s odd,” said Danny, “when you buried your mum’s dog Daisy Beatyl, our cockerel Beatyl hatched on the same day. Mrs Squeaky dies and that day we hear that we have four new healthy chicks.”

This evening we buried Mrs Squeaky in a quiet, shady part of the garden. And then celebrated the arrival of the new chicks.

It is a circle.  Death and life.  Rocky and amazing.


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14 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jackie

    I hate it when I find a dead hen. It’s always a shock especially if the hen was not obviously off colour or ill.

    Love the idea of extreme chickens. That sounds like a great life.

    Yes, we are so indebted to Caroline and Kevin. The prospect of new additions to our flock is a great distraction. Having seen the brood yesterday we are so optimistic.

    Dear Pamela

    Love the names. We will be running a competition when they arrive in August. Meanwhile one has already been named! Zebedee (the surprise black and white chick).

    Hi Amanda

    I reckon that you have to just keep on looking forward with livestock. Although I still mourn Lightening – the white Guinea Fowl and Mrs Boss and all of those that have passed over to that great meadow in the sky ?

    Hello Wendy

    Yes Mrs Squeaky’s death was a shock. She was very much an individual with her film star and Garboish ways.

    We’re so pleased that we have the four chicks coming on and being raised in such a happy home. Perfect.

    Hi Toffeeapple

    The babies are so cute and Mrs Squeaky was a real trooper.

    Dear Chicken Lady

    Thanks for dropping by. I’m all for rescuing the chickens that have had battery lives to date. My mum has a friend who rescues lots of these hens. Sadly their lifespan is very short – chucked out at two years old they rarely live for more than another couple of years.

    I’ll check out the site www.littlehenrescue.co.uk – thanks for the tip.

  2. The Chicken Lady

    hi Fiona,so sorry to hear about msc but really pleased the leghorns have hatched.We have had a good hatching year although the induan runners keep producing more drakes than ducks.We have also just got a cockerel from little hen rescue who do wonderful work finding homes for battery hens.So far they have placed some 10,000 plus birds and have 11,000 needing homes at the moment.If any of your readers are thinking of getting hens prehaps they could checkout the web site[little hen rescue]to see if they could offer any of these “plucky” girls a new and better life,they surely deserve it. see you soon

  3. Toffeeapple

    Sad news tempered with good, an equal balance. I’m looking forward to seeing your babies

  4. Wendy

    Am just back and read your sad news about Mrs. Squeaky. I am so sorry as I rather liked the descriptions you have given about her. She was ‘her own bird’ as they say. Lovely pic of the pretty new chicks. x

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