When Miss Constance Chicken came to us, she and her blonde sisters Clara and CocoChanel, had spent two years in a cage. These three girls had legs so weak, none of them could walk and they spent their first weeks with us, hobbling about and being lifted in and out of the coop. Much tlc and arnica remedied their legs and very soon they were more mobile and enjoying their freedom; exploring their new world.
Constance, or Miss Constance Craving Chicken to give her her full title, was called Constance due to her habit of constantly eating. She didn’t stop! In her first few weeks of freedom she had little else to do but rest on the grass in the sunshine and fill her little crop. The perfect recuperation from the hell she had suffered. Gradually as all three girls got better, their little world expanded from the small run, to the big run and eventually on to the delights of the courgette patch. No wonder we had about three courgettes all summer! Very soon they were free ranging in the garden with Audrey and the B girls.
They were a very happy little trio, my C girls. Never a peck or a cross bwark between them and they all snuggled up together at night in a cosy pyramid. Constance was always the quiet girl, not at the bottom of the pecking order, just not involved with it. She was quiet and content with her new life and appreciated every moment. A real gentle angel.
However, the effects of her old life haunted her in her new one. As if she didn’t have enough to deal with having sore legs, she suffered a prolapse a week or so after she came to live with us. It was a small one and we treated it successfully at home but she had the indignity of having her vent vaselined twice a day until we were satisfied all was staying where it should do. Luckily she stopped laying soon after this and could live out her retirement without being hampered by the demands of producing eggs.
She also suffered from a runny bottom, despite eating the same as the rest of the girls. She consequently had twice weekly baths and blow dries so we could clean her up and keep infection away. She actually came to enjoy these times and stood as quiet as a lamb in the old butler sink (perfectly sized for chicken beauty treatments) and simply loved the hairdryer wafting warm air around her knickers. She usually fell asleep at this point and on her last wash and blow dry on Saturday, dozed off with her head in the crook of Gary’s arm. After her spa, she had a variety of treatments on her sore bottom – ranging from vaseline, to aloe gel to soothe and purple spray to keep nasties away – her purple knickers suited her! We finally discovered that organic hemp balm was the best to soothe her sore skin.
It is fair to say we love all of our girls but there always comes a time when you form a special bond with them individually. That time with Constance came when we found blood pouring from her vent. Unable to stop the flow and worried she may bleed to death from an internal injury we whisked her up to the emergency vets in St Columb. Wrapped in a towel in my arms she dozed all the way up, unaware of the unfolding drama. The vet luckily found a wound just at the side of her vent that we could easily treat. On the way back, she climbed inside my fleece and went to sleep. Feeling her peaceful breathing and little heart beating was lovely. Bless her little soul. Knowing she was going to be OK and also that she trusted me enough to snuggle up with me and go to sleep was quite a magical moment.
On Saturday Constance started to look a little under the weather. A crop and vent check made us none the wiser so we treated her and tucked her up for the night. Yesterday she was really quite unwell. She wouldn’t eat anything and we had to syringe some critical care formula into her. Gary always had a special bond with Constance (all those knicker wafting sessions) so he wrapped her up in the softest towel we had and sat with her in the sunshine as she dozed off. They were both comforted a great deal by this. After her medicine we put her back in the coop where she wanted to be, tucked up between CocoChanel and Bunty Goodchicken. We said goodnight to her and told her we loved her.
She died in the night with all her sisters round her. She was one month short of her one year henniversary and it breaks my heart to think she spent longer in the cage than out of it.
But our girl had a lovely 11 months, she grew strong, she sunbathed and foraged and dustbathed and ate worms. She knew freedom and love. There is a very bright, beautiful new star in the sky tonight looking down on all her beloved sisters.
We will miss our precious girl very much.
RIP angel. Fly high little hen xxxx