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Hope – the little hen with a big personality

Hope and Peace

Hope & Peace

The last post that I made on the blog was about Hope – a favourite hen.

She didn’t jump in my arms when I approached. She kept her distance. She knew that she was special. There was something in the strut of that diminutive bird.

Just a few weeks ago I was estimating her age as I watched her pecking her corn.

She must have been at least six or seven years old but she was still out in the run looking superb and doing her own thing.

Once in a while she still laid a small white egg –  they were the sweetest and best eggs that I’ve ever tasted.

Hens stop laying regularly after two or three years, so each tiny white egg was a special gift.

She had been a Christmas present – originally one of two. Her sister never moved a feather without checking with Hope first.

We named her sister Peace and she was a sweetheart. Sadly Peace was five short of a six pack and died in the first hard frosts of that year.

When I scooped up Peace, Hope didn’t ruffle a feather. She just kept busy in her own – a feisty little individual who was always alone from that point.

Hope just didn’t have that ‘flock’ mentality.

Although she could be maddening at times, she got under my skin and I loved her.

If you keep hens you will know that some become  more special than others. Of course, as with every living being in your care you need to give them all an equal amount of attention but some divert you more than others.

A couple of weeks ago Hope didn’t come out for breakfast. When I searched the hen houses were empty.

Eventually I found her. She was lying in the run, in the mud.

Just a small heap of feathers and a body so small that I could almost hold it in my palm.

She is buried in a nest of rosemary and marjoram.

She’s gone but every time that I feed the hens I still find myself looking out for her.


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  1. Jean |

    So sorry about Hope! I love that she was a loner, “didn’t have that flock mentality.”

  2. Patricia

    Thank you dear Fiona. You broke your silence to update us about Hope and that is a gift I treasure. She was loved. There are times I feel a bit like Hope – I’m standoffish, I don’t run to those that show me a bit of attention or seek to “hold” “pet” “show affection” – I could be called a feisty old Gramma – but that doesn’t mean I don’t love those who do the holding, petting, showing of affection – it just means that I hold a lot close to the chest. I’m so glad you are back, for whatever reason you are, I thank that reason and you. As we slide into the holiday season of the year, you’re post is a small gift to be treasured and reread from time to time. Be well dear one, you are loved by your readers, especially one in New York who lives in a tiny village up on the Hudson River.

  3. Joy Clark

    RIP Hope, sleeping in fragrance.
    And lovely to read a blog entry from you, Fiona.

  4. Thank-you danast 🙂 I have still been reading when I need help or inspiration with food, but I found online things were taking up so much of my free time. So I decided to spend a little less time online. It’s been great at helping my to-read book mountain get a little smaller 🙂

  5. Lovely to hear from you again Shereen! xx

  6. Hello Fiona. It’s so good to see you writing here again, I’m just sorry it’s on a sad topic. Hope sounds like she was a real character, it’s no wonder you miss her.

    On a related sad note, the much-loved DawsonCat died in May last year at the ripe old age of 19. He was a huge part of our lives for so long that we needed to take a cat-free break to allow us to get over his loss. In March this year we adopted another wee stray – a silver tabby with white socks we’ve called Fergus. We still miss DawsonCat so much, but are enjoying getting to know another wee cat character.

    And you’ll be please to know that the Cottage Smallholder catnip bird is still going strong. It’s been passed on to Fergus and is getting lots of “loving” attention. It’s safe to say none of the shop-bought toys have lasted as long.

  7. Pat White

    Great to be able to read your thoughts again. We here, in the good ole ‘USA, have missed you.

  8. So sad to hear the news concerning Hope, I have enjoyed your chicken updates in the past and would love to have chickens of my own one day.
    Very happy though to see you back online, you have been much missed 🙂

  9. JennyWales

    Hi Fiona, so sorry to read about your hen, but it is lovely to see you writing again. Hope you are well.

  10. CraftyCrofty

    So sorry to hear about your lovely little hen – beautiful name, Hope. A nest of Rosemary and Marjoram sounds like a very fine resting place.
    I have been thinking of you in recent weeks as I drag out my preserving pan and your chutney recipes. It’s been a great year for apples pears and plums, which will make me popular present-giver again this Christmas. Next door’s damsons are also going into damson gin for the first time, but I may keep that all for myself.
    Take care.

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