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Posts Tagged ‘Henniversary’

Today has been a day of celebration, presents, party and cake! Misses Effie, Eliza and Flora-Jayne chickens all celebrated two years as free range girls!

My E girls arrived in the last big rehoming of barren caged hens. In December 2011, farmers throughout the UK were clearing out their barren cages to comply with the Jan 2012 cage ban. I brought home four poorlies who spent Christmas in the ICU (coalhole). Little Evie enjoyed a few months as a free girl until her beautiful heart finally gave out and our beloved Miss Basket passed away this summer, after eighteen months free ranging with her soulmate, Effie.

Effie

Effie

Eliza weighed almost nothing and her legs were so weak she could not stand up. However, a few days of rest and good food and she was up and about and causing enough mayhem to be allowed to go outside in the hospital coop with Evie. Food became a very Big Thing for Eliza and even now she can be very protective of her food. Understandably, considering she must have been starving in those cages. Very soon into her freedom, she discovered greens and her favourite pastime in the world is to munch on some tasty greens. When she finds other tasty morsels in her daily forages, she makes such a fuss chirping about them that by the time she has finished, someone, usually Flavia, has stolen the morsel from under her beak! She settled in with the Big Girls very quickly and swiftly rose to the rank of Bella’s lady-in-waiting. When we sadly lost Bella, I was a little concerned about Eliza’s ability to be Top Hen but she has risen to the challenge admirably and is now a very good Top Girl. After two years free, she has finally started to lay (?!) and can be found chirruping away contentedly in the bush by the pond (her secret laying place) laying her morning egg.

Eliza enjoys some post cake cauliflower!

Eliza enjoys some post cake cauliflower!

Flora-Jayne came to live with us only a few weeks ago. She was the last remaining ex-batt of a little flock and needed company. Amazingly, she came from the same rehoming as Effie and Eliza, and it was immediately obvious that she and Eliza remembered each other. Consequently her integration has been very easy! She still sleeps in her own coop (with Effie’s Malcolm) as Gracie Thug is still a bit territorial. However during the day, she free ranges with her new sisters. She is also a very clever girl and got the measure of me very quickly. Every morning I open her coop before the Big Girls’ and she runs after me to the greenhouse where she has a treat of mealworms in peace!

Flora-Jayne enjoys her cake

Flora-Jayne enjoys her cake

And then there is my darling Effie; the little hen with the broken body and the broken spirit who slowly learnt what it was to love and to be loved. As she slowly discovered her new free range life she found a friend, she found a family, she found she had a big brave heart and she found she could lead the life a little hen deserves to live. She has changed my life. Sometimes you connect with a creature, be they human or chicken, as though you were destined to be together. Effie and I are such a pair. She is my special girl and I am her special human. We understand each other, support each other and love each other. When her beloved Miss Basket died, I knew exactly how to mend Effie’s broken heart. And now she runs around her garden with her three bantam babies, who adore their Big Sister Effie, she tucks herself protectively over them at night, she watches over them by day and she shares her treats with them. Effie is a happy girl once more. On the night she arrived to live with me, I did not expect her to last the night, and now, two years later, I still cherish every day with her. She is the most precious of souls, she has changed lives, she has showed the world the traumas hens suffer in cages and she is the most perfect ambassador for her commercial sisters. I do not have the words to describe how much I love this beautiful girl.

Effie enjoys her cake

Effie enjoys her cake

Today started with a special breakfast for the special girls; each girl having their favourite treat with their mash – Effie had an egg, Eliza had cauliflower leaves and Flora-Jayne had mealworms. At lunchtime (the humans sneaked home from work for an hour) everybody had mealworm cakes with live yoghurt and sweetcorn topping, posed for photographs and we all sung a rousing chorus of “Happy Henniversary to you…” As befits her superstar status, Effie also had post from her admirers. She had a parcel from her lovely friend Megan which contained mealworms and treats and a card from her good friend Liz which also contained an award; the Effie Cross, awarded ‘for pluck.’ It is given for outstanding bravery and valour. Effie is its inaugural recipient and will wear it with pride.

Effie reads her card from Liz and learns she has been awarded the Effie Cross

Effie reads her card from Liz and learns she has been awarded the Effie Cross

As we are approaching the shortest day, an early night was in order and after the excitement of the day, nobody complained. Flora-Jayne tucked up with Malcolm, Liza is perched over her girls inside Henderlay and Effie is tucked up over her precious bantam babies.

Sweet dreams special girls xxxx

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It has taken me over a week to try and write a tribute to darling Bella. Our hearts are broken and watching Hettie struggle each day, grieving for the only friend she has ever had, is only compounding our sadness. Bella was a very, very special girl and no words I write can truly capture the gentle spirit that was Bella, but I hope I can try to do our special girl justice with this tribute…

1st February 2011 saw the arrival of four little hens; my B girls. I had planned to collect three Amberlink girls, so naturally came home with two Amberlinks (Brigit and Bertha) and two ginger girls (Bunty Goodchicken and Bella). Of course at that point Bunty Goodchicken was just Bunty and Bella was Psychochicken. Only my second batch of girls, I was unprepared for the feisty little scrap that was to become Bella. She attacked me and Gary, she attacked the other hens, she attacked her reflection and she attacked her coop. I didn’t know what to do with her. Now of course I know I was dealing with a very frightened little hen, who had had to fight for every thing in her caged life. No-one had thought to tell her it was now all going to be OK – at that point I hadn’t learnt how to speak ‘chicken.’ So, on advice of fellow chicken keepers, I separated her whilst the other three girls went to bed. Pyschochicken was put to bed in the cat carrier. Once everyone was asleep I went to take her out of the carrier. I will never forget the look in her eyes. It was one of total resignation and defeat. She was back in a cage. That moment with Bella taught me more than any book could ever have done. The true suffering of caged hens, the depth of emotion they feel and the effects our human idiocy can have on them. From then on, I truly understood her.

Bella on rehoming day

Bella on rehoming day

My friend, Sarah, decided that to make her feel special and loved, she needed a special name and she called her Bella, meaning beautiful. So Bella she became. And over the next (almost) three years as a free range girl and top hen in our flock, beautiful she proved to be. In every way.

Diminutive in stature, Bella was always my smallest hen, but was the girl with the biggest character. Hers were the first wings I ever clipped! Three months after she came to live with us, Bella suddenly became intent on using the logpile as a launchpad for her escape efforts. Despite my attempts at containing her, one morning I looked out of the dining room window to see the little scamp running gleefully up and down the Cornish hedge. Never having clipped wings before I raced round to a work colleague, with Bella tucked tightly under my arm, to show me what to do. Bella came home suitably clipped and proceeded to lay an Egg of Protest in the greenhouse. Her escape attempts were brought on by her pre-eggy frenzy, something I have now realised many hens do just before their first egg after a lull.

Bella's first taste of fresh air

Bella’s first taste of fresh air

You see Bella was a teacher. She knew I had much to learn and consequently took it upon herself to educate me in the ways of All Things Hen. We were good friends Bella and I. Each evening as I sat chatting with the girls, she came and climbed onto my lap and told me about her day. Every time I cleaned out the coop, she came up to make sure I had done it properly, tactfully rearranging my humble human efforts. She even tolerated me cuddling her and occasionally allowed me to hold her long enough for a photograph – her beautiful face has featured in many magazines and websites promoting the plight of her ex-commercial sisters.

But I was not Bella’s only pupil. She had greater plans – she wanted to educate as many humans as possible.

She came to college with me and transformed the views of all the students she met. Previously they had thought of hens as ‘just a chicken’ and were not interested in my futile exbatt witterings. But Bella knew how to change their minds. She breezed into their classroom, preened, bwarked and looked resplendent and then stood obligingly on a piece of A4 paper to show them the space she would have had in her battery cage. She had given a face to factory farming. Suddenly these previously uncaring students understood. Bella had made them see. Then they were feeding her and stroking her as she ate corn of their hands. Bella had performed her role magnificently. To this day they still ask after her.

Sunbathing beauty

Sunbathing beauty

Spreading the word became Bella’s mission. She was one of the lucky ones and she was going to do all she could for her less fortunate sisters. She came with me and Clara to Pets at Home and met the public whilst promoting a hen rehoming for Fresh Start. She was picked up and cuddled and went around the store meeting customers, enchanting them with her beauty. People who had never even touched a hen in their lives were delighted with her, wanting to hold her and asking all sorts of questions about hens and battery farming. Children, especially, were enamoured by her. Because of her efforts, many loving homes were found for more ex-commercial hens.

Bella had many, many wonderful characteristics; she was clever and funny, dignified and brave, but most of all she was a kind and fair top hen. She ruled her flock with a firm but gentle wing. No hen was allowed to be left out or picked on. She kept neighbourhood thugs Eliza and Grace Kelly in check. When Flavia arrived, dumped at the vets after being attacked, it was Bella who welcomed her into the flock. When Flavia was afraid to go to bed as Eliza lurked menacingly by the coop door, it was Bella who would escort her safely into the coop every night. When terrified little Hettie arrived, Bella understood her fears and immediately extended the wing of friendship to her. Bella had recently lost her beloved Bunty Goodchicken and Clara in close succession and this new friendship helped both hens heal their emotional scars. Every evening Hettie went to bed early to get her favourite nestbox and every evening Gracie Thug came in and turfed her out. So every evening Bella offered Hettie the prime Top Hen nestbox and slept by her side. A true leader, she knew she had to care for the weakest in the flock.

Bella celebrating her two year Henniversary

Bella celebrating her two year Henniversary

Apart from two soft egg incidents (cured by a warm bath and a very lovely cuddle) Bella had never had an ill day in her free range life. She breezed through her first moult and was the picture of good health. However, about a month ago, at the start of October, Bella started to slow down. She was having a small moult and struggling to regrow her new feathers. I found her looking a little unwell at times, occasionally her comb was slightly tinged with blue. Fearing her intensive laying life was finally catching up with her and suspecting a tumour, and with Uncle Jason’s advice, we treated her as best we could and each time she rallied. But both Bella and I knew her days were now numbered.

Bella took her Top Hen responsibilities very seriously and I know she struggled with the thought of leaving her girls, so she fought her illness with all the stoicism of a true Maggie Smithesque grande dame…….Bella was always a proud and dignified girl and I knew without her having to tell me that she would not want to be seen to be weak in front of her girls. She needed not to suffer and she needed to have her dignity to the end. Sometimes words are not needed between friends, they understand implicitly what is needed, and one bleak morning, she told me that she had had enough. It was time. Her best friend Hettie had been by her side the whole time she had been ill and on Bella’s last day Hettie stayed with her all day, never venturing from her guardian angel’s side. Darling Bella knew it was time but I don’t think poor Hettie understood.

After a very weak Bella had seen her girls safely to bed for the final time, we visited Uncle Jason. Bella and I sat together in a quiet room, she was cradled in my arms and, as she passed on, I told her that I loved her, that she was a good chicken and I promised her that I would look after her girls, especially Hettie, and that she could now rest in peace. Once I had told her this, she passed very quickly and peacefully. Her final gift to me was one of her moulting feathers that fluttered away from her beautiful, precious body. A treasure.

Bella needed dignity in death and I hope I was able to give her that; the last wish of my most special girl.

She was cremated on Saturday, a golden marigold for my golden girl tucked under her wing for her final journey. Her spirit is now flying forever free at the Rainbow Bridge with her beloved Bunty Goodchicken and Clara by her side, as my darling Bella takes gentle charge of her heavenly flock.

My darling Bella with her beautiful heart-shaped pupil

My darling Bella with her beautiful heart-shaped pupil

Us mere mortals left behind will uphold our final promise to her. Hettie will be cared for, loved and protected and Bella’s flock will slowly adjust to the loss of their beloved leader. For a while they will have a human Top Hen who will muddle through until a new gentle chicken leader emerges. She will however have very big claws to fill – in fact she probably never will. There will only ever be one Bella Top Chicken.

After almost three years as a free girl, our hens and our hearts are mourning the loss of Bella. Nothing will ever be the same again.

RIP my darling, beautiful, brave, big-hearted, generous Bella. Fly high my precious Top Hen xxx

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Sunday saw much celebration in the garden of the Rosewarne ex-batts. Greta Garbo and Grace Kelly, two gorgeous girls from our first ever rescue as Cornwall Fresh Start for Hens, celebrated one year as free girls!!

From that rescue I took home the three poorlie girls. Gracie with a prolapse, Greta with a very swollen and red abdomen and the very ill little Gina.

Gracie had the first of many baths – she loves them and especially the post-bath blow dry – to help clean up her prolapse and after a few days of treatment, the prolapse disappeared never to be seen again. Gracie has turned out to be the naughtiest, most vocal little hen I have ever met!! Who was first to fly up onto the bench with all the treats on? Gracie. Who discovered she could knock them over so her sisters could have them? Gracie. Who managed to fly over the fence into Effie’s garden and attack my precious baby? Gracie. Who is still to extend the wing of friendship to Hettie and kicks her out of the nest box every night? Gracie. But who sings beautiful songs to her mum every morning? Gracie. Who chirrups throughout her baths and blow dries? Gracie. And whose distressed alarm call alerted us to the dying Gina? Little Gracie. Grace Kelly is a character and true to her namesake, a really gorgeous and glamorous diva.

Miss Grace Kelly Chicken

Miss Grace Kelly Chicken

Greta’s swollen bottom was originally thought to be Egg Peritonitis but after Uncle Jason the vet had examined her, it was deemed to be a mass of scar tissue from a previous infection. Much better news! Her big beautiful bottom has spent a year being red and featherless and only now, after a year of freedom, have the first feathery tufts begun to appear around the edges. Greta has never laid an egg, and nor would I want her to, but she does love to sit in the nestbox after someone else has laid one and then rush out to declare her brilliance at laying an egg!! She is the sweetest, happiest chicken and an excellent beak cleaner, and it is this sunny, gentle character that has earned her the much coveted Goodchicken surname. It is a title only ever bestowed on the most special of hens and Greta knows she is a very special girl.

Miss Greta Goodchicken

Miss Greta Goodchicken

Little Gina was in the ICU for a few days before joining her two sisters for a week or so of fresh air and sunshine. But her little body was too weak to cope. Gracie woke us one morning with her cries of distress and I am eternally grateful to her for that as it enabled us to bring Gina inside and cuddle her as she passed away. However, her spirit was felt today and we spent a few moments at her grave telling her we loved her.

Gracie then ventured inside for a bath and knicker blow dry whilst Greta had extra cuddles as she awaited the main event.

left to right Flavia, Greta, Gracie, Liza and Bella

left to right Flavia, Greta, Gracie, Liza and Bella

Once Miss Kelly emerged in a fluffy and feathery shower of happiness, mealworm and corn cakes topped with live yoghurt and sweetcorn (grown on our allotment) were served, accompanied by much very bad singing on my part. Then followed a photoshoot before the girls collapsed, exhausted and full, under the bushes for a post-party preen and snooze.

Gracie, Bella Top-Hen and Greta tuck into a cake

Gracie, Bella Top-Hen and Greta tuck into a cake

(In Effie’s Garden, Effie had two cakes and allowed her babies to share one between the three of them. It was their first party and they behaved im-peckibly!)

Today was a double celebration – Gracie and Greta enjoying one year as free range girls and also the anniversary of our first rehoming.

If you are inspired to have some ex-batt hens, I can assure you it will be the best thing you have ever done. If you need some help and advice please visit my new website www.henhugger.co.uk or email me on henhugger@talktalk.net.

And if you are in Cornwall, there will be a rehoming of ex-commercial hens on 14th December. What better way to embrace the festive season than to save a life?

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When Miss Clara Chicken arrived to live with us, she was unable to walk. Along with her Amberlink sisters, Constance and CocoChanel, Clara had spent over two years in a cage and her legs were so weak, she couldn’t even stand up. Of the three girls, Clara’s case was the worst and even when Constance and Coco were managing to hop about, poor Clara could only sit and watch.

Every morning and evening we lifted her in and out of the coop and bathed her legs daily and rubbed them with arnica gel. Named after Clara, the little crippled girl in Heidi, our Clara’s legs finally became strong enough so that she could walk. She never lost her limp completely though but when she ran she looked as though she was skipping.

Fisrt steps...

First steps…

Clara and her sisters

Clara and her sisters

She did however still enjoy being picked up out of the coop in the mornings and sat there with her wings outstretched almost as if to say ‘Pick me up Mum.’ And so she became my Cuddling Girl. A big, blonde, downy-feathered cuddling girl, Miss Clara loved to be sung to as well. We had a song, Clara and I, adapted slightly from My Favourite Things:

Raindrops on roses and feathers on chickens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with string, Clara is one of my favourite things.
Chickens in white feathers with blue satin sashes
Doorbells and sleighbells and Clara with eyelashes
Clara that flies with the moon on her wings, Clara is one of my favourite things.

We used to walk around the garden, Clara nestling in my arms, the two of us singing and bwarking away respectively. She always recognised Her Song, even if I was singing it to myself, and she would come up and join in with her beautiful bwarks.

Beautiful feathers

Beautiful feathers

Uncle Jason was quite enchanted with her on her only ever visit to the vets. She was chirpy and cuddly and chatted away to him as he checked her over. It was all going so well until he looked in her mouth and she burped in his face. Such a lady!!

She was a very happy chicken, was Miss Clara. So she was the perfect candidate to come with top girl Bella Chicken and I to a display at Pets at Home advertising our Fresh Start for Hens rehoming. She loved the attention!! She was happily picked up and went around the store in my arms bwarking contentedly at shoppers. She was stroked by so many people, all of whom were delighted with her and many of whom had never touched a chicken before. She was the perfect advert for how wonderful hens are and because of her hard work, many more little hens were saved from slaughter and given loving new homes.

Mud bath girl!

Mud bath girl!

However, her moult in January totally transformed her relaxed happy character. Her re-emerging feathers caused her such pain she screamed if anyone came near her, she couldn’t even preen herself and she would not be picked up. No amount of Raindrop on Roses would calm her and she took to her bed for a fortnight and had her meals in the coop. Two weeks later as she came back out of the coop, she looked resplendent in her new white feathers, and sported a Light Sussex-esque collar of darker feathers. She was still not herself though, skittish and seemingly off-kilter. Something was most definitely wrong. We discovered that she was blind in one eye and had great trouble judging distances and locating small objects. Whether this was a slow degeneration or something triggered by the moult we had no idea.

Clara - One Year Henniversary Party Girl!

Clara – One Year Henniversary Party Girl!

We managed to adapt things to make her life easier: she had breakfast in bed (a throwback from her moult days) of egg and mash and was then lifted out of the coop and into the greenhouse where the food bowls were always in the same place. When she was in our arms we sang Her Song to comfort her and reassure her all was well – it must be frightening to be lifted up and not know where you are. The ramp and any edges/steps she had to negotiate were painted white so she could see them and she was fed out of our hands four times a day. She managed to get around the garden very well and we were hopeful we could manage her problem. We were very aware that we had come full circle with her care – again putting her in and out of the coop; our girl needed us once more.

Magnificent girl (slightly blurry sorry)

Magnificent girl (slightly blurry sorry)

At the same time Miss Bunty Goodchicken was ailing and Bunty and Clara, close friends for many months, stayed side-by-side providing support and company for each other.

However one night, without warning and after twenty-one months of freedom, darling Clara went to sleep with her sisters and never woke up. I do not know if I had missed something but I had found nothing wrong with her beautiful body except her blindness. She had come through the moult although it may have taken too much out of her. Or maybe it was the sad passing of her soulmate Bunty Goodchicken three days before. Maybe her life without Bunty was just going to be too hard. Our only comfort is that she went quickly in her sleep, without suffering and was cuddled up with her sisters.

It doesn’t make it any easier though. And I have tried to sing Raindrops on Roses to cheer myself up but it is not the same. I miss her bwarks, I miss her cuddles but most of all I miss my Clara. The garden is a much darker place without her beautiful blonde feathers brightening it up.

RIP darling Clara Chicken, find your beloved Bunty and fly high together my special girls.

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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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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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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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