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Archive for the ‘Dorothy-Kate’ Category

Miss Dorothy-Kate was a big, gorgeous, feisty chicken with a character to match! Rescued in October 2012, she originally went to live in Helston with her sister Doreen, and her new human family, John and Sharon. Within weeks she was soon described as a ‘bit of a character’.  Quite the escapologist, Dorothy was often found exploring next door’s garden or standing on top of the Cornish hedge at the bottom of her own garden, bwarking away – almost as if she was daring the local foxes – ‘come ‘ere if you think you’re hard enough’!

I first met Dorothy near the end of 2013 when she and Doreen came to stay for a week whilst their humans went to London. Despite a dividing fence, that first morning was like World War Three. My girls were not impressed by these two newbies and Dorothy was equally furious at being fenced off when there was a whole new garden to explore.  I should have realised then what a big-spirited girl I was dealing with!

But with her big spirit, came her equally big heart. A few months later, Doreen became ill and sadly passed away leaving Dorothy alone. The sight of her forlornly cuddling up to a teddy in her coop at night was enough for John to bring her to live with the Rosewarne ladies.

Beautiful Dorothy-Kate

Beautiful Dorothy-Kate

At this point, in July 2014, she became Dorothy-Kate; she had to be a K girl and I couldn’t possibly change her name, so Dorothy-Kate she became.

After the initial two-week separation period I introduced Miss Dorothy to her new sisters – after giving my girls a stern talk on ‘being nice to the new girl’. I needn’t have worried, within five minutes Dorothy had established herself as top chicken, and that was that!!

However, very soon Dorothy-Kate (or DK to her friends) took on all the serious duties of a top hen. She rounded her girls up for bed each night, protected them during the day, and very sweetly, started to crow whenever she heard the neighbourhood cockerel start up in the morning. In what became something of a ‘crow-off’ she stood fast, her little feet planted squarely on the floor, and replied to every one of his crows with a rather impressive one of her own! It was very endearing and one of my favourite memories of her.

Dorothy-Kate, Greta and Flora-Jayne tuck into a treat!

Dorothy-Kate, Greta and Flora-Jayne tuck into a treat!

DK was however battling the same issues so many ex-batts struggle with. At over two years’ free she was starting to suffer from crop problems. Often a sign something nasty is lurking elsewhere, we treated her as best we could and managed to pull her back from the brink on many occasions. Never underestimate the will to live of an ex-batt! Especially a girl as feisty as our darling Dorothy-Kate.

In February this year, Dorothy and Flora-Jayne became ex-batt ambassadors extraordinaire. They took part as show hens in a short course on Keeping Pet Chickens and were, understandably, the stars of the show! They behaved like the true professionals they were and charmed their audience, who all went home eager to have their own ex-batts.  A little hen can ask for no greater legacy than to know that because of her, some of her caged sisters will be rescued and given a new life. I was so terribly proud of them.

Dorothy reads the paper backstage

Dorothy reads the paper backstage

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Dorothy became ill again, her crop not emptying and her abdomen swelling at an alarming rate. I tried everything I knew to help her but to no avail; sadly I had run out of tricks. She was in pain and was getting worse by the day so, for a girl whose dignity was so important to her, I knew it was time. I asked John to come round to say goodbye to her before we visited Aunty Gina, who agreed that a girl as special as Dorothy needed to die in peace and with dignity. At two-and-a-half years’ free, she had spent longer out of the cage than in it. It is little comfort at times like these, but as she passed away peacefully in my arms, I hope her memories were of sunshine, worms, friends and sunbathing – all the things a little chicken should always be able to enjoy.

John wanted to take Dorothy home to bury her with her sister Doreen, so I wrapped her little body up snugly and placed some forget-me-nots under her wing. It was exceptionally hard to hand her precious body over – normally I see them through to the very end – but Dorothy had only ever been staying with us and she needed to be with her other sister. If I trusted anyone to care for her, it would be John and Sharon – they have good, kind souls. She is now buried next to her beloved Doreen with camellias on her grave. She also has, however, a stone here at Rosewarne, and will always be a part of our flock.

She was a big, brave and beautiful girl; a top hen and a show hen and all of us here, human and chicken, will miss her. Sleep tight darling Dorothy-Kate, fly high sweetheart xxxx

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Don’t get me wrong, I love spring. With the longer days I get to see more of my hens (only interrupted by annoying bouts of work) and the girls enjoy the sun’s returning warmth. But there is a less sunny side to spring – the toll it can take on the girls. One dark spring weekend a few years back, we lost three girls in as many days – the demands of nature proving too much for their moult-weakened bodies. Since then I have greeted spring with a mixture of joy and trepidation and gird the girls’ feathery loins as best I can beforehand, getting them into peak physical fitness before spring arrives.

This spring of course has been no different and we have had the usual round of illnesses and dramas. Both Lupin and Dorothy-Kate have suffered from impacted crops. For Lupin, her crop is obviously her weak area – starved in the cage, she understandably ate until it was almost bursting on rehoming – but a few days of pineapple, oil and massages sees her back to her normal cheeky self.

Dorothy’s was a far more serious affair. An older and pretty bolshie ex-batt she is not one to succumb to something as mundane as illness without it being something rather nasty. Indeed, there was a time I thought we were going to lose her. But Dorothy, true to feisty form, rallied and pulled through. She had been having pineapple, oil and massages twice a day for a week but her crop was still not emptying. We asked Uncle Jason for some metroclopramide and bingo! The crop cleared and has been working perfectly ever since. I must admit to really being amazed, I thought we would lose her and had even asked her dad what he wanted regarding her funeral arrangements. Oh me of little faith! Never underestimate the fighting spirit of an ex-batt!

Lemony all recovered from her prolapse and operation

Lemony feeling so much better!!

Our other poorlie area has been prolapses. Lemony bantam had always struggled to lay her eggs, taking most of the morning, so I suppose it was no surprise that she eventually suffered from a prolapse. Uncle Jason kindly performed emergency Saturday morning surgery on her, giving her little vent a purse string suture and gave her the suprelorin implant. After an anxious few days of Prolapse Watch she was back in the loving wings of Effie, untroubled by any more eggs.

Just like children, hens will be ill at the most awkward of times. Moments before we left for a long day in Devon, I discovered Flora had a prolapse. It was impossible to leave her unsupervised so Gary kindly stayed with her whilst Caroline and I headed up to Exeter to see Tom and Amanda. Consequently crowned the Prolapse King of Cornwall, Gary successfully treated her so by the time I checked her the next morning, everything was just where it should be. Unlike the spare bedroom she had been staying in – poo-covered chaos!! But she was booked in to see Uncle Jason on the Monday morning for an implant to avoid any more poppings out.

Flora-Jayne back to looking amazing!

Flora-Jayne back to looking amazing!

And then there is my Effie. Over the years Eff has had three implants as she has been plagued by soft eggs but I had hoped that now, at over five years old, egg laying was behind her. But after a few days of her jumping onto things, nestling in corners and a definite reddening of her comb, sure enough a pained Effie produced a softie. Two days later the same thing happened so, you guessed it, straight to Uncle Jason for an implant. She is now back to being egg free and naughty!

At £100 a shot for three implants, plus one operation and numerous meds it has certainly not been cheap but, what has proved to be a financially disastrous spring for us humans, has also proved to – so far (I cannot tempt fate) – be a successful one healthwise for the girls. And after all they are the ones that are important!

Spring Chicken Effie!

Spring Chicken Effie

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