Miss CocoChanel Chicken came to live with us after two years in a cage. Neither she nor her two equally gorgeous blonde bombshell sisters, Clara and Constance, could stand up but after a few weeks of arnica rubs and tlc, all three ladies were up and running about.
CocoChanel got her glamorous name from the string of pearls around her neck – a ring of brown speckled feathers that stood out against her beautiful white ones.
From the start Coco (as she was affectionately known – she didn’t mind!) was top chicken of the little trio, although all three became firm friends which stood them in good stead for the integrations to come.
The first and only time I regretted calling my girlie CocoChanel was in her first few weeks with us. She decided that her newly strong legs needed testing and clambered through the fence and into next door’s garden, finally taking up residence in the middle of the wide and very prickly hedge dividing the gardens. Cue much clambering through the fence calling ‘CocoChanel, CocoChanel…’ followed by much swearing as I scratched myself on the thorns. Coco finally returned home of her own accord but over the next few weeks was often found sitting in the hedge. Then suddenly she obviously decided her new life was to her liking and stopped her escapology!
Whilst my three C girls all stuck together during the integration of the flocks, Coco formed a very touching friendship with Miss Bunty Goodchicken. They were often found pootling round the garden together, sharing girlie secrets and always tucked up together in the big nestbox at night. When the D girls arrived in a very sorry state, Coco and Bunty tucked them up between them at night, preening them before bed. Such lovely girls.
Coco’s other extraordinary talent was beak cleaning. Whenever a beak needed cleaning Coco was your girl. Guaranteed to clean even the muckiest beak, Coco was there, cleaning away. Bless her. Who will clean all those mucky beaks now??
In June this year Coco and Clara celebrated their one year Henniversary. Whilst much fun and corn on the cob was had by all, both girls spent a little time remembering their sister Constance who had sadly passed away in May.
Somewhat sadly, CocoChanel had moulted her neck feathers – those with the brown pearls on. She spent a long time with a featherless ring around her neck before going into a full moult a few weeks ago. And it was to be this moult, ultimately, that would prove too much for her tired little body.
It was touch and go for a while but, the fighter that she was, Coco pulled through and was really starting to recover; her new feathers finally appearing. I thought we had beaten it!
However on Monday she came out of the nest box looking a little fragile and on closer inspection she had foamy eyes. Whilst she was eating and drinking well, she was not 100% and I knew that foamy eyes meant the dreaded mycoplasma so off to Uncle Jason we went. She was put on Denegard and we had hopes she would pull through. But the moult had weakened her immune system and her face was swelling – her sinuses were blocked and as her eyes were so foamy she struggled to see and consequently to eat.
We bathed her eyes every hour or so and tried to encourage her to eat by handfeeding her little pieces of scrambled egg, but after a few days we could see she was worsening and, more importantly, she was suffering. Looking into her eyes, Coco and I shared a moment of complete understanding. As clearly as if she had spoken out loud to me, I heard her say, ‘I have had enough.’ Still desperate not to lose her, we fought a little longer but by Friday I knew she was right. It was time.
We went back to Uncle Jason and Coco was allowed to fall asleep in my arms, getting the dignified, peaceful and painless death she deserved – and indeed had asked me for.
We cremated her that evening and I placed sweetpeas in with her little body, so she would smell like the glamour girl she was. Whilst I knew we had done the right thing, we were heartbroken. Our beautiful, funny, clever and kind CocoChanel would never finish growing her new feathers and we would never see her beautiful new brown pearls.
RIP beautiful, beautiful girl. We will look after Bunty and Clara for you I promise. They will miss you as much as we will.
Fly high little hen xxxx