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Archive for the ‘Bunty Goodchicken’ Category

Miss Bunty Goodchicken, arrived in our lives one frosty February, just as the sun was starting to return to our corner of Cornwall. Very apt for a little hen who has brought light into our lives every day since.

One of our four B-girls, Bunty was a special girl from the moment she was rescued from her cage. Instant best friends with the feisty and soon-to-be-top-chicken Bella, Bunty’s gentle spirit and kind nature meant that very quickly she became Bunty Goodchicken. The Goodchicken name is the much-coveted title bestowed on only the most special of hens; whose loving soul is a shining example to her sisters. Never throwing a peck in anger, Bunty Goodchicken was indeed a Good Chicken.

Bunty's first day of freedom, February 1st 2011

Bunty’s first day of freedom, February 1st 2011

Her first year of free ranging saw her grow all her feathers back and settle into the sort of life every hen should enjoy; sunbathing, worm hunting, foraging, scratching, dustbathing and tucking up snugly with her sisters at night.

A particularly pretty hen, Bunty was also very photogenic. So much so that one of her best photos graced the cover of Smallholder magazine promoting an article on why we should all rehome ex-battery hens. Overnight, Bunty became an ambassador for exbatts and many of her caged sisters owe their new lives to Miss Goodchicken.

The original of that covergirl shot

The original of that covergirl shot

Our Beautiful Coverglrl

Our Beautiful Covergirl

However, at the start of her second year as a free range girl, Bunty Goodchicken became ill. She had a prolapse and no amount of home remedies would help. So off to Uncle Jason the vet she went; the first of many visits and the start of her biggest battle.

Bunty had an operation putting in a purse-string suture to keep her prolapse in. She also had a suprelorin implant to stop her laying and thus stop the prolapse re-emerging. After three days of internal check-ups and monitoring, the suture was removed and after a further few days of anxious Prolapse Watch, she was deemed fit enough to return to the loving wings of her sisters.

During this time Bunty remained stoic and uncomplaining – a brave chicken as well as a good one. The vets therefore awarded her a Braveheart Award and the medal and certificate are now both very proudly displayed in the human’s coop.

Bunty's Braveheart Award Certificate and Medal

Bunty’s Braveheart Award Certificate and Medal

However, the battle was not won. Bunty Goodchicken subsequently developed egg peritonitis – she was laying internally and the egg fluid building up – and was given medication to relieve this fluid build-up. At first she happily took her pills, ground up on a delicious treat, but she soon got wise so it had to be syringed in along with a painkiller.

For over a year, this precious girl was kept alive by her various pills and a couple of sessions draining the fluid from her abdomen. She remained her normal happy, chirpy self and enjoyed her free range life to the full. After the sad passing of two of her B-sisters (Bertha and Brigit), Bunty Goodchicken and Bella became firm friends with Clara and the three were inseparable.

During this time, Bunty Goodchicken became a household name. Not content with being just a covergirl, she also appeared in a chapter of Tales From the Coop, a book by the lovely Sophie Mccoy to raise money for exbatt hens, and most recently she has cracked the American market by having her story, photo and portrait appear in an exhibition in the National Museum of Animals and Society in Los Angeles.

Miss Bunty Goodchicken at her 2 year Hennniversary party

Miss Bunty Goodchicken at her 2 year Henniversary party

However, slowly Bunty started to worsen and in an attempt to keep her precious life going a little longer, she trialled a pill to help relieve the pressure on her heart. Uncle Jason, amazed at how Bunty Goodchicken had fought to stay alive against all the odds, is currently writing a paper on her treatments. Due to his work with Bunty, he has subsequently been able to successfully treat many more hens. So she is also a medical pioneer.

However, she was not getting any better and we went to see Uncle Jason with that dreadful dilemma. Was she suffering? Were we prolonging her life just for ourselves? Could she live a little longer? It was a decision I wasn’t brave enough to make, so my darling Bunty, a Goodchicken to the end, made it for me. Whilst we were at the vets she started to fit and within seconds her heart had given up and she died in my arms. Her big, brave, beautiful heart, full of love and goodness to the very end, had finally decided it was time for Bunty to rest.

And it is now our hearts that are breaking.

But as we said goodbye to our girl, her spirit soaring to the heavens, we took a little solace in all the hens our darling Bunty Goodchicken had helped to save.

Miss Bunty Goodchicken: Covergirl, Exbatt Ambassador, Braveheart Award Winner, Medical Pioneer and (very) Good Chicken.

A big legacy for a little chicken.

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On 1st February 2011, four special little chickens arrived to help us celebrate Imbolc, marking the beginnings of spring and to start their new free range lives with us. Two beautiful Amberlinks, Bertha and Brigit (named after Imbolc or St Brigit’s Day) and two lovely ginger girls, Bella and Bunty.

Sadly my two blonde bombshells passed away last spring after celebrating a year’s free ranging but Bella and Bunty have both reached this marvellous milestone.

Miss Bella Chicken enjoying her birthday cake!

Miss Bella Chicken enjoying her birthday cake!

When Bella arrived she was a frightened and aggressive little hen and attacked everyone and everything. However, after a night tucked up in the coop with her new sisters she established herself as top hen and the attacks stopped and after a few days of plenty of food and tlc she learnt that us humans were OK as well. Her transformation from psychochicken to Top Girl was also aided by the insistence of my friend Sarah that she be given a beautiful name to make her feel like a special lady. So Bella she became. She has always remained top chicken, usually just a look is sufficient to remind the other girls of this should they be foolish enough to forget it and she hasn’t had a day sick in the two years she has been here. She sailed through her moult at the end of last year and is now resplendent in her new feathers complete with showgirl tail feathers!

Miss Bunty Goodchicken enjoying her birthday cake!

Miss Bunty Goodchicken enjoying her birthday cake!

When Bunty arrived, she was quiet and timid, but cleverly she was also best friends with Bella and so has never had any need to become involved with the pecking order or squabbles. She has sat at Bella’s shoulder, a calming influence and rather splendid right hand hen. Because of her gentle nature, never throwing a peck in anger, she was bestowed the much coveted Goodchicken name, a title only ever given to those chickens whose gentle spirit and forgiving soul is a shining example to her sisters. Whereas Bella has been a picture of health Bunty Goodchicken has had to be a very brave girl – enduring illness – a prolapse and subsequent operation, suprelorin implant and now she is battling (successfully I am thrilled to say) the dreaded egg peritonitis. The vet recognised her extreme bravery by awarding her a Braveheart Award (medal and certificate) for being “a very brave chicken.” She has also been a magazine covergirl as well as having her story appear in Sophie Mccoy’s wonderful book, Tales from the Coop.

The party in full swing!

The party in full swing!

Our Henniversary celebrations started with a warm porridgey breakfast and a quick game of fatball football and then at lunch time we had the cakes and photoshoot. We lit a candle each for Bertha and Brigit and laid flowers at their gravestones. We finished off the day with a rousing chorus of Happy Henniversary to You…complete with ropey singing, and bwarking harmonies.

The cakes!

The cakes!

Miss Bella Chicken and Miss Bunty Goodchicken have approved a photo each to become their Official Henniversary Shot and they would like to thank their public for all their good wishes and presents.

They are also very proud to announce that their Henniversary celebrations appear in the March edition of Your Chickens magazine.Their human has been given a regular column and they are very excited to grace the first one!

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Forgive me it has been a while. The shorter days do not seem to give me enough time to do all the things I want to do. My girls always take priority – I have even been known to sneak home from work during the dark midwinter afternoons to put them to bed!!

So then, a brief update on all my beautiful girls and a wonderful new ex-batt health initiative.

G girls

Gina, Greta and Grace Kelly are settling in well. Little Gina, who almost died after the rehoming, is still a very weak girl but I can find no reason for it other than growing her feathers. She has been dosed up and spoilt with protein-rich foods and supplemented food and drink so I hope I have given her every chance to make a full recovery.

Gina

Greta’s swollen abdomen is responding well to her frusemide, which she has ground up on a piece of scrambled egg. She has grown all her feathers back except for her knickers, which in spite of looking pretty wanton makes it easy to monitor the state of her abdomen.

Grace Kelly is a changed girl from the terrified prolapsed hen we brought home. Her prolapse is cured and her feathers have grown back, along with her confidence. She is great friends with Greta and the two of them patrol the human’s garden (currently theirs), concocting new ways to get into the human's coop (currently not theirs) and devour the cat food (also not theirs.)

Big Girls

It has been moulting season for the big girls. Bella and Eliza have come through their moults with flying colours and are now resplendent in their new feathers complete with showgirl tail feathers!! Bunty Goodchicken has just started her moult and is looking a little bedraggled but still just as beautiful. There is a positive side to her moult though, she is no longer laying internally so has had her medicine reduced. Clara has got over a nasty cold thanks to tylan and is back to being my cuddling and singing girl. Do you know she knows the words to her song, Raindrops on Roses, and will sing along even if I am not cuddling her. My special girl Flavia is the only hen (out of 10) I have who is laying eggs and carries on with her eggy duties without a word of complaint, bless her.

Flavia

Operation Merge is slow going with the combination of moults and illness but this weekend as Gary and I spent time pootling in the garden, Grace and Greta had a wander into the Big Girls Garden with very little incident. A few weekends of gentle introductions and once Gina is back to full health will see Operation Merge go full steam ahead!!

Effie and Miss Basket

The naughtiest girls in Cornwall are doing just great!! Our nightly game of Benny Hill Chase, or Bedtime as I prefer to call it, sees me outwitted each time by a girl with a broken neck and a girl with only one good leg. As their Narnia Garden has been extended to include all four raised beds, Effie and Miss Basket are far too busy to bother with anything as mundane as going to bed. Miss Basket has stopped egg laying now, not that we notice – she ate them anyway!! And Effie is still struggling to complete a full set of tail feathers. On reflection, I think the fact they are still encased in their quills is due to the fact that her little neck will not allow her to reach them and preen them. A poignant reminder of how special my girl is.

Go to bed? Us? Catch us first mum!

And finally…

I had an email the other day from a vet who, knowing how special ex-batts are and how their early lives impact on their free range lives, is compiling as much information and data as possible in order to provide more help for these very special girls. If you can, please visit his facebook page and add your information to help him help our girls.

Thank you xx

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I was concerned that our resident diva and global superstar, Miss Effie Chicken, would have her perfectly formed beak put out of joint by the arrival of our new G girls but as luck would have it, Effie has discovered she is not only featuring in Your Chickens AGAIN this month but also has a whole chapter of a new book just about her.

In a magnificent double spread photo which forms part of an article on ex-batts, Effie is seen luxuriously sunbathing, her little neck at its own special jaunty angle. Miss Basket is standing over her and (don’t tell Effie) but she too looks magnificent. So often Melanie to Effie’s Scarlet O’Hara, it is good to see Miss Basket take centre stage.

Effie and Miss Basket in the now infamous Your Chickens photo!!

And yes Effie has a whole chapter of a new book, Tales from the Coop, dedicated to her story. Also featuring in other chapters are Miss Bunty Goodchicken and the rather splendid Miss Audrey Chicken. Edited by the inspirational Sophie Mccoy, Tales from the Coop has a collection of stories, poems, photos and more by many wonderful and reassuringly barmy ex-batt owners. All proceeds of the book go to hen rehoming charities so, if you need a stocking filler, or indeed just something to make you smile, please buy this little book.

Tales from the Coop; a fabulous read!!

So what tales are there this week from my little coops?

The G Girls

My G girls are blossoming! Little Gina is making up for lost time and consequently eating like a horse. Whilst still very bald she has discovered the delights of sunbathing and has taken up residence in a particularly sunny spot in the garden. She has settled in very well with Grace Kelly and Greta Garbo – all girls pootling round the garden together by day and sleeping in a hen pyramid each night. Gina has discovered a penchant for delicious quills though – not her own I might add – so Grace and Greta are currently sporting this season’s must have look – purple sprayed backs!

Gina – sunbathing beauty!

Grace’s prolapse has disappeared and she is performing her ‘natural functions’ without anything making an unwanted reappearance. She is quite a scared little girl though – she is terrified of me still. So to spray her quills purple I had to wait until everyone was asleep, open the coop slowly, take aim and spray. Needless to say much of the coop interior is now purple but luckily so are the girls’ backs!

Timeless beauty Grace Kelly

Greta Garbo’s swollen abdomen is reducing significantly. I am taking her to the vets soon but as she is still very flighty I do not want to stress her unnecessarily. She is the most confident of the three girls though – always first out of the coop, always first to do everything!

Gorgeous Greta Garbo

I am delighted with the progress all three are making.

Final Confession

Now I have ten lovely hens in my flock, you would think eggs would be in abundance and omelettes would be our staple diet. Ahh..well

Of my ten girls, Gina, Greta and Grace are too poorly to lay, Effie has had an implant and doesn’t ‘do’ eggs anymore, Bunty Goodchicken has egg peritonitis and no longer lays, Eliza and Bella are moulting, Miss Basket lays each day but eats her egg, Clara lays intermittently and Flavia lays every day.

So 1 egg a day then!!

I may joke about it but I would rather none of my girls laid and just had a rest. They have earned it and I want them to live out their retirement in luxury and not be burdened by egg laying.

So I sneak down to the animal care unit at work and buy some of their hens’ eggs. Shhh…don’t tell anyone!

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We love our chickens here at Rosewarne. And if a garden full of gorgeous girls is not enough, our house is filling up with chickens too!

No, not more poorlie girls in the ICU (yet), these are not real chickens but chickenalia. Basically if it has a chicken on it, I want it!

My obsession started soon after the arrival of the three A girls (almost two years to the day) when Gary went to an artist’s fair in Falmouth and very kindly brought me a beautiful Barbara Karn print of three chickens. It looked just like my three angels and after having a frame custom made is now in pride of place in the hall. It is also my avatar on facebook, twitter and this blog! Unfortunately my three A girls did not make it to the luxury quarters of Henderlay (darling Audrey, the last of the three passed away the night before they moved in) so a copy of the print is on the Hen-der-lay sign; meaning all of my girls have lived there.

The Hen-der-lay sign featuring Misses Aurora, Agatha and Audrey Chicken

Next came the ‘Beware of the Ex-Batts’ plaque which is currently on the garden gate. I am also hankering after a ‘Free Range Ladies Live Here’ sign for the gate to their garden!

Then came the fleece and t-shirt with chickens on. Closely followed by the coasters, calendar, car sticker, apron, Cath Kitson tea towels, mug, ‘Keep Calm and Keep Chickens’ sign and numerous chickeny knick knacks. I have saved all the chicken-themed Christmas and birthday cards and covered my drab 1970s-nightmare beige kitchen cabinets in them.

Gary has even asked our lovely, talented friend Helen to make me a feather-inspired silver bracelet for Christmas

Most recently I have bought some lovely chicken cards made by my friend Christina’s very clever mum – they are just beautiful.

As I was sitting in the garden (between showers, thunderstorms and hurricanes) chatting to the girls about all my chickenalia, they were admiring Gregory (Peck) the cockerel on my mug of tea. Now Effie wants to launch her own range of Effinalia – Effie mugs, Effie pictures, Effie coasters etc and Bunty Goodchicken has decided the world needs a book of the story of her life…

Effie has plans for her own range of Effinalia!

But back in the sane world I now have a chance to spread the chicken love…my friend Janie at Hedgecombers writes a wonderful blog and also draws the most beautiful hen pictures and cards   She has very kindly asked if I would do a competition to give away one of her beautiful prints!

Ida and her Atkins Diet!

So for your chance to win this fabulous chicken print of Ida and her Atkins Diet please comment on this blog or on my facebook or twitter pages and I will draw a name at random on Friday 29th June. This special day is Clara and CocoChanel’s one year henniversary so a celebratory day all round!

Good luck, I just wish I could enter!!

And if you have five minutes, please watch this little Chicken Song by Finding Violet It is sad but not graphic, but have a tissue handy xx

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Recently this blog has been about such sad events, that to lift our spirits and coincide with spring introducing new life I am celebrating some wonderful and positive news about my girls! Health, friendship, a new coop and a Smallholder magazine covergirl!

My ten girls are all healthy and happy and enjoying the spring sunshine. Seeing them stretching out those newly feathered wings in glorious delight to catch the sun’s springtime warmth makes you truly appreciate that every day free ranging is a blessing and we must cherish every moment, just as our girls do.

Eliza

Flavia and Eliza are now pretty much fully integrated with the Big Girls – Bunty Goodchicken was even cleaning Flavia’s beak tonight, bless her gentle soul. All eight girls are spending their first night together in Henderlay this evening and are currently tucked up together in perfect harmony! An early start in the morning to check on them though!

Flavia

Effie and Eleanor are having a new deluxe, ex-batt-specific prototype coop delivered next week. We are all terribly excited. The lovely people at Oakdene Coops have developed a recycled plastic coop especially for ex-batts and have asked us to give them our thoughts on it. Effie and Eleanor are looking forward to trying it out and giving me their opinions! Personally I think if anyone cares enough to develop a coop especially for these precious girls then it is going to be a stunner. Watch this space…

Effie and Eleanor freeranging

People who have chickens are truly amazing and by the power of the internet and social media we are able to ‘speak’ to and connect with fellow chicken lovers across the globe. These people become friends and confidantes as they are privy to our thoughts and feelings, often much more so than people we interact with daily in the real world. Sometimes we are lucky enough to encounter our online friends in the flesh so it was wonderful to meet the lovely Jan and her family today. Meeting people you have talked to online is always like catching up with old friends – you have already shared so much – and like any proud parent I am always delighted to show off my girls. Jan was kind enough to bring me two beautiful cards with chickens on – as a fellow chicken lover she knew how much I would appreciate them! Next week, another online chicken chum, Paula, is heading down to Cornwall and I am looking forward to more chicken chat and yes…showing off my girls again!!

And finally but most certainly not least, Bunty Goodchicken’s fame is spreading far and wide. Never was there a more deserving chicken – the kindest, sweetest, bravest girl I have ever encountered. She is the May covergirl for Smallholder magazine, an exciting event for us both. Her picture graces the front cover and my article – on how amazing ex-batts are and why everyone should have them – is featured. It is almost impossible to explain how important this is to us all. Promoting ex-batts has become a life mission for me; helping these victims of the intensive farming system is the most important thing I have ever done. Writing has also been a lifelong passion of mine and to have an article published in Smallholder magazine is totally thrilling. Smallholder is my favourite magazine, it has a fabulous poultry section and I read it from cover to cover each month; it is chock full of useful and informative articles and I am honoured to have written something for them. The article is also illustrated with many photos of my girls, including the adorable Effie, as well as Bunty’s covergirl shot:

Bunty Goodchicken in her covergirl shot

So just as day follows night and spring follows winter, from the ashes of sadness and loss, new, tender joyful beginnings emerge. We are celebrating all that is new, alive and exciting whilst still holding those dear departed close to our hearts.

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