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The loss of our darling, glamour girl Flavia has been a particularly difficult one for us; it was very sudden and very shocking and we are still struggling to come to terms with it.

The 16th March 2012 was a Friday and at about 5.30pm we received a phone call from our vets, a hen had been abandoned there. She had been attacked by the family dog, had been patched up by the vets, but as she had been given baytril, her owners to longer wanted her as they could not sell her eggs (due to the baytril withdrawal period).Would we have her?

Stupid question, when have we ever said no to a hen??

En route to the vets, I was thinking of F names for her and going along the old fashioned ladies names route, had chosen Freda. On seeing her, cradled in the nurse’s arms, I knew a Freda she was not. She was a Black Rock, exotic and glamorous, with a collar of shiny golden feathers. On the way home I asked her what she would like to be called and Flavia was the name that sprang to mind. I am a fan of Strictly and Flavia was one of my favourite dancers…petite and glamorous…no other name would do.

As an emergency new girl, Flavia’s initial home with us was a cat basket in the greenhouse; safe but not particularly homely. She spent her first few days exploring the human’s garden (in the days before a certain Miss Effie Chicken occupied it) getting used to her new life. We thought we would integrate her slowly but Flav had other ideas. One morning, about five days into her life with us, Gary accidentally left the gate between the two gardens open and Flavia just sauntered through, cool as you like. And that was that.

Gorgeous Girl Flavia

Gorgeous Girl Flavia

Flavia was our first non-exbatt, and my girls, all shades of auburn and ginger, could not quite understand what she was. I think they thought she was a large blackbird and consequently they ignored her. There was none of the handbags at dawn silliness we usually get with integrations, Flav was content to be bottom hen and the others just let her be.

Except Eliza…

Newly integrated to the main flock, Eliza was bottom hen and she was keen to let this new usurper know that she, Eliza, would not be bottom hen any more. Luckily, Flavia was not a fighter and was not interested in Eliza’s domination strategies, and happily settled into bottom hen mode. Strangely though, the two hens quickly became firm friends and Eliza would often chirrup that she had found a tasty treat for Flavia. They spent many happy hours together as a twosome, foraging the garden for bugs and worms.

Despite their dreadful past life, I have found that exbatts tend to be inquisitive, trusting and friendly towards humans and are almost always happy to be cuddled. Flavia though, maybe because of her breed or because of her sad history, was not fond of human contact. She got terribly distressed if we tried to pick her up, so we had as little hands on contact with her as we could. Much as my arms ached to cuddle this gorgeous girl, we respected her wishes to be left alone.

When new girl Hettie arrived, also a non-exbatt, Flavia showed great kindness and compassion in welcoming a fellow outsider to the flock. A kind girl as well as a beautiful one, she showed that her beauty was more than skin deep. At night times the two girls snuggled up together in the big nest box in Henderlay, with Eliza perching protectively above them. A happy little threesome, they formed a secure sub-flock of the main Big Girls flock.

With Hettie being part Light Sussex and therefore prone to broodiness, she spent much of June and July this year in the nestbox, and the trio became a duo for much of the summer. So with the sad passing of top hen Eliza in late June, Flavia felt her loss very badly. She became a little off colour and out of sorts but regular (and upsetting for her) checks proved nothing to be amiss; other than what would seem to be a broken heart.

Best Friends Flavia and Eliza

Best Friends Flavia and Eliza

However, on 18th July, Miss Flavia Chicken passed away very suddenly. Her death was traumatic for us all, but I believe a girl as private as Flavia deserves dignity and so I will not go into details. Her death broke my heart and my spirit and will haunt me forever. Suffice to say though that she went to sleep peacefully in my arms and that is maybe all we can hope for.

She was cremated with sweet peas under her wing and her ashes were buried with sweetpeas, a beautiful flower for a beautiful girl.

RIP darling Flavia, our glamour girl forever dancing at the Rainbow Bridge xx

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A year ago today, we had a phone call from the vets. They had had a chicken abandoned at the surgery who had been attacked by a dog. They had patched her up and she was fine but none of them could take her home. Would we have her?

It took me all of two seconds to say yes and within the hour the little hen had arrived at her new home.

A bit of research showed her to be a Black Rock, our first non-exbatt hen but a rescue girl none the less. Her name had to begin with F but my initial thoughts of Freda or Florence did not suit her. She was an exotic beauty and needed a suitably exotic name. As fans of Strictly, only one name would do; so Flavia she became!

Exotic Beauty Miss Flavia Chicken

Exotic Beauty Miss Flavia Chicken

As there was no room at the Inn, she spent her first few nights in the cat carrier in the greenhouse and her days in the human’s garden, eyeing her new sisters through the fence. Within the week though she decided she wanted to be with the other hens and just walked through the gate that had been left open and that was that. No fuss, no fisticuffs, no handbags at dawn. We were used to the traumas of integrating feisty ex-batts, so it was a dream merge!!

Little Flavia, lays an egg every day, without fail, and is a sweet and gentle girl. A flighty hen, she loves human company but hates being picked up!! As bottom hen of the flock she stayed out of everybody’s way to start with – I think at first the other girls thought she was a giant blackbird! However, with the arrival of Greta and Grace Kelly, she was very keen to establish that she was no longer bottom hen!

Henniversary Girl Flavia, Official Birthday Shot!

Henniversary Girl Flavia, Official Birthday Shot!

Her Henniversary dawned with a rousing chorus of Happy Henniversary to You…then a game of Spring Green Swingball and later in the day, special mealworm cupcakes complete with live yoghurt and sweetcorn topping! The hen party was in full swing when a gatecrasher emerged, helping himself to some cake, so a game of Chase the Kitten swiftly followed!

The Hen Party in Full Swing! Note the Gatecrasher!

The Hen Party in Full Swing! Note the Gatecrasher!

The celebrations were widespread. Italy (Flavia’s adopted country) kindly won their rugby match and to finish the day off in true glamourpuss style, Flavia’s namesake, Miss Cacace herself, sent our Flavia a happy birthday tweet!

From One Gorgeous Lady to Another...

From One Gorgeous Lady to Another…

A special day for a special girl!!! Happy Henniversary darling Flav xxxx

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