Archive for the ‘Dolly’ Category

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.


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!


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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Friday was the worst of days. We lost two of our beautiful girls in very different but equally heart-breaking circumstances. As each girl is so precious and deserves equal love and remembrance, first I shall write about Dolly Chicken and the following day about Brigit Chicken – both now angels flying high and free in Henven.

Miss Dolly Chicken – rescued 26th August 2011, went to sleep 23rd March 2012

I met Dolly and her sister Daisy on my first hen rescue day. It is hard to pick out special girls in a barn full of beautiful girls but first I fell over (literally – she has a thing for feet) Daisy and then her equally scrawny and featherless wingwoman Dolly. Both girls came home with me to join the B and C girls. They had their own coop to start with but were integrated fairly quickly.

Dolly Chicken soon after rehoming

Dolly (named after Gary’s great-aunt Dorothy and therefore very precious) was the scrawniest girl I have ever met, she looked pitiful but was such a sweet girl and became bottom hen without fuss. I think she was just grateful to be free. She fitted in well with the other hens, Bunty Goodchicken took her under her gentle wings and tucked her and Daisy up in the big nest box between herself and chum CocoChanel every night.

She was a great ambassador, raising awareness for her caged sisters. Her ‘before’ picture was used in posters advertising the massive hen rehoming in Cornwall before Xmas. She inspired hundreds of people to rehome battery hens, I am so very proud of her.

From the start though, Dolly had egg problems. Every other day she became quite unwell trying to lay an egg. Usually two soft shelled eggs came out in quick succession. She had warm baths and Zolcal D to try and ease the eggs through – holding her damp and frail, featherless body wrapped up in a warm towel was one of life’s gentle moments.

Bathing Beauty

It was then I started to look into a superlorin implant and spoke to the vets about it. They researched it and implanted Dolly a few days later. If we ever needed proof of the bravery of these beautiful ex-battery girls, it was Dolly’s stoical response to having a needle almost the width of her leg injected into her. I was concerned she would suffer the ill effects of the implant – a small moult for example – but as soon as she arrived home, Dolly tucked into her Brave Girl’s Special Breakfast before rushing out to play with her sisters. And she never looked back…

The difference was nothing short of amazing. If ever you needed visual proof of the demands on a hen’s body egg laying causes then comparing the egg laying Daisy with egg free Dolly would be it. Daisy remained scrawny and featherless whilst Dolly grew a magnificent set of feathers almost overnight and became the picture of health. I have never seen such fluffy knickers, she was truly stunning. She was in such good health though she took it upon herself to terrorise the new E girls and was a complete minx! It saddens me greatly that in the last month I spent much of my time telling her off for picking on the new girls. Had I known she was not long for this world I would have picked her up and never let her go.

Look at our beautiful girl now!!

She was however a very happy girl almost to the end. Always first across the garden to greet me. Always first to demand treats. We had a little routine Dol and I, dating back to her first days in with the Big Girls…all the big girls went to bed in Henderlay, lured in by corn. Dol used to take herself off to bed almost straight away so I used to pop a couple of worms through the back door of the coop just for her. This carried on even when she was confident with the big girls. It was our secret so she knew she was still my Special Girl.

On Thursday Dolly looked a little unwell; on closer inspection I found the remains of a soft shell in her vent which I removed. She took herself off to bed and the next morning I found her dead. Just like that. No real warning signs. Nothing. The shock makes it worse I think. What did I miss? What could I have done differently? But as my lovely friend Diana says, it is hard to mend the scars inside which we don’t see. Maybe Dolly was suffering from her time in the cage and maybe her implant had just put off the inevitable. It did however give her a wonderful life as a free range girl and I hope she knew just how very much we loved her.

Fly high and free little Dolly Daydream. Seven months with you was nowhere near enough darling girl.

RIP angel xxxxxxxx


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