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Posts Tagged ‘Miss basket’

The sun has got his hat on and all the hens in my garden are happy! Long, warm days spent foraging, dust bathing and dozing in the glorious Cornish sunshine are just what my special girls love most.

Young Hettie Hen is now a fully fledged ex-batt sister – well almost. She still sleeps with teddy in her own coop and has shown no inclination to sleep with the big girls. But that will come when she is ready. In the daytime, though, she pootles about with her big sisters who now accept her as part of their little flock. Her best friend is Bella Chicken and even though Bella is top hen, she gently cleans Hettie’s beak, lets Hettie share her food and lets her snooze next to her in the sunshine.

Hettie hanging out with her sisters!

Hettie hanging out with her sisters!

Greta Garbo has a new trick. She waits until I am kneeling down talking to the girls, then sidles up and swiftly pulls my beautiful badger earring out of my ear and runs off with it!! Little minx!

Miss Basket is still not 100% after her implant – she spends much of the day sleeping and is not eating very much. I think she is suffering from the heat as she is much perkier first and last thing, when it is cooler. She has been for a check-up with Uncle Jason and all is as well as can be expected. She has however, decided that Effie’s daily egg, which was up until now too precious to be eaten, is now fair game and tucks into it when my back is turned. Six days out of seven I just find the shell in the nest box and a nonchalant Miss Basket dozing in the garden, her crop full of egg! Still, she needs it more than I do.

Effie, in spite of the indignity of having her egg eaten, is happily tending to her beloved friend. She sits with her in the daytime, preening her gently and at night time snuggles on top of her in a two hen pyramid. They love each other very much indeed. For two little hens who had never known what it was to have a friend, to suddenly be sharing your days in the sun with your soulmate must be the stuff of dreams. So deep is their friendship, I do worry that one will not cope should anything happen to the other. I do have a plan, but Old Grumpy needs to be convinced…watch this space.

"Love you Effie." " Love you too, Miss Basket" xxx

“Love you Effie.” ” Love you too, Miss Basket.” xxx

And finally I am thrilled to say that the book is selling very well!! We have repeatedly been number one on the kindle and paperback bird charts and have five star reviews across the board! The more copies we sell, the more money we raise for hen rehoming charities. The book also featured in Your Chickens this month, as did Effie’s bi-monthly column telling of her rise to international superstardom!!

But all joking aside, the book, the column, this blog all have one purpose and that is to spread the word about the wonder that is ex-batts.

And there is more exciting news…but I will tell you next time!

Jo xx

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Saturday evening saw the grand launch of Uncooped, an online exhibition curated by the National Museum of Animals in Society in Los Angeles.

As well as celebrating the beautiful creatures that are chickens, the exhibition highlights the plight of the millions of commercial hens across the world and features pictures and stories of people’s pet hens – showing just what wonderful characters chickens are!

We found out about it when my very talented artist friend, Lesley Ann Cooper, was approached by the museum’s curator for paintings and stories. She sent them some of her beautiful ex-batt portraits and then very kindly put them in touch with me for some stories.

Naturally one of two of my girls were very keen to ‘crack the American market’, most notably a certain Miss Effie Chicken. Graciously she let Miss Basket appear in her photograph and story and the two girls now think of themselves as international celebrities. No doubt we will soon have demands for a red carpet, champagne breakfasts and mealworm fountains…

California Dreamin'...

California Dreamin’…

All joking aside I am enormously proud of my girls for being chosen to appear in the exhibition and I am also enormously proud of the lovely Lesley, whose wonderful artwork makes quite a few appearances.

And poignantly a certain Miss Bunty Goodchicken also features in the exhibition. Her story was written as she was slowly losing her fight against the scars her caged life had left on her body. As we still mourn the loss of this most precious of hens, it is reassuring to know that her story is being told in another country; so that more people will read of her brave battle to enjoy a free range life and be inspired by the little hen who blessed our lives for two years.

Miss Bunty Goodchicken, BHAW

Miss Bunty Goodchicken, BHAW

Uncooped

To see Effie, Miss Basket and Bunty Goodchicken go to Get To Know, then Portrait Gallery. Bunty is on line 2 and California Girls Effie and Miss Basket are on line 13.

To see Lesley Anne’s artwork click on Advocacy , then Chicken Advocates and scroll down to Battery Hen Rehoming Organisations.

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With the sad loss of Miss Bunty Goodchicken in March, our flock is without a Goodchicken. My dear friend Fi, is keeping the Goodchicken name alive with her two new girls, Miss Isobel Goodchicken and Miss Valerie Goodchicken so Bunty’s spirit lives on but I felt the need to pass her Goodchicken mantel on to one of the girls in my sadly depleted flock.

Gary and I discussed it at length and two names were clear contenders. Greta and Miss Basket.

Miss Basket has befriended little friendless Effie and has nursed her into the happy, confident free range girl she is now. Unable to mix with other hens, Effie has to be kept separate and Miss Basket has forgone her chance of being in the big flock to stay with Effie. Often playing Melanie to Effie’s Scarlet, Miss Basket needs her own moment in the spotlight. But Miss Basket Goodchicken sounds wrong!

Greta Garbo is the sweetest girl. Sporting a big, bare, beautiful bottom due to a mass of scar tissue built up over her time at the farm, Greta is the kindest, gentlest girl. Never throwing a peck in anger and bottom of the flock she makes it her mission to clean everybody’s beaks, all the time! So happy in her new life, Greta’s joy is contagious.

So who to choose? Drum roll…

After more discussion we have decided that both girls deserve the title. Greta will now become Miss Greta Goodchicken and Miss Basket (who was originally called Eleanor) will be like the royals and have two titles: Miss Basket, also known as Miss Eleanor Goodchicken.

Miss Eleanor Goodchicken (Miss Basket)

Miss Eleanor Goodchicken (Miss Basket)

Miss Greta Goodchicken

Miss Greta Goodchicken

After this momentous decision I came up with the equally wonderful idea of expanding the Goodchicken Sisterhood to include other special hens all over the world.

If you have a hen that is worthy of the Goodchicken name, who is sweet and kind, who never throws a peck in anger and whose gentle spirit and soul are a shining example to her sisters, please send me her name and photo and I will add her to the Goodchicken Sisterhood

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Our phantom egg stealer nearly struck again yesterday!! Like a fool, I had forgotten a certain chicken’s penchant for the odd eggy, and left the bowl of freshly collected eggs on the ground whilst I checked the third and last coop.

A tap, tap, tap! alerted me to her presence and I hurriedly turned round to find a certain Miss Basket pecking away at one of the egg shells in her bid for yolky delights!

Butter wouldn't melt...

Butter wouldn’t melt…

Last year I had to put my detective skills to the test when I found someone was eating the eggs in the little coop. Admittedly I didn’t have to be Poirot – only two hens lived in that coop, Effie and Miss Basket. They did manage to foil me for quite a while though until one morning I managed to catch Miss Basket red-clawed, sitting in the coop and happily munchinq away on her newly laid egg.

Whilst my initial reaction was to try and stop her eating eggs, upon reflection I came to a decision. It was, after all, her egg so why should she not enjoy it? You may have noticed I spoil my girls a tad but I do agree with the idea that the chicken owns the egg she lays. Whilst it would have made a nice addition to my supper, I didn’t need it. Miss Basket however laid me a beautiful egg every day, despite her weighing almost nothing. I came to the conclusion that her need was greater than mine. My girls are pets, eggs are just a bonus after all.

My other laying girls (of which there are admittedly not that many that bother themselves with this laying malarky) quite happily leave their eggs after a short post-laying contemplate so we still had plenty of eggs. Well, usually.

There is an egg hierarchy in our house that goes: poorly chicken, any chicken that wants it, humans. This led to an egg drought at the end of last year when poorly Gina was having an egg a day and only Flavia was laying and that was every other day. I refuse to buy commercial eggs of any sort so had to sneak down to the animal care unit where they have rehomed some of my girls from the last rescue and…buy some! Oh the shame!!

So back to Miss Basket and yesterday’s egg ambush…

Did I let her finish off the spoils?

Of course I did!!

Gorgeous Miss Basket

Gorgeous Miss Basket

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Nine very excited little hens have just tucked themselves up in their coops, trying very hard to stay awake to see if Father Christmas comes!

Nobody wanted to go to bed tonight so to keep everybody happy we had a rousing rendition of Winter Wonderland (Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Bwark!) before sitting very quietly and listening for sleigh bells. We remembered their sisters at the Rainbow Bridge and then we thought about all the little hens who will not be free girls this season and whose Christmas Day will consist of staring at the inside of a cage. And we decided we were all very lucky.

Now they are finally asleep I can put the finishing touches to their Christmas cakes and wrap up their presents.

As Christmas morning dawns they will have a special breakfast of scrambled egg followed by a day of love, cuddles and treats. And they will enjoy the one thing that is so precious to every little ex-battery hen – her freedom.

Seasons blessings to everyone and may the new year bring us all happiness and a kinder, more compassionate world for animals and humans alike.

With love from Effie, Miss Basket and all the Rosewarne hens xxxxx

With love from Effie, Miss Basket and all the Rosewarne hens xxxxx

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One year ago today, four very, very special girls came into my life. Rescued last Christmas as part of the big rehoming with the battery cage ban coming into force, four poorlie girls who needed extra love and care came home with me. We quickly fashioned the old coal hole in the utility room into an ICU and tucked them up for their first night as free girls; the lucky ones who had a chance of a new life.

There was little Evie Lou with a swollen belly, limpy girl Eliza who weighed next to nothing, Miss Basket with a blackened and infected foot, so bad she had no feeling in it or ability to control it and the saddest soul of all – Effie, a little hen with a broken body and a broken spirit.

All four girls spent Christmas in the ICU, having round the clock care. There is nothing lovelier than being greeted first thing in the morning by the gentle bwarks of four little hens.

Within two weeks Eliza and Evie had moved outside to the hospital coop; only a few weeks later they were successfully merged with the big girls. Arnica rubs had healed Eliza’s limp and she made up for her initial fragility by eating for England and blossoming in every way. Little Evie Lou responded so well initially that we thought we had beaten her ailments, however tragically she succumbed within a couple of months to the water belly that was swelling her poor abdomen. Despite draining and medication we could not save our poor girl and she passed away in March. The only consolation is that she had a few free range weeks, full of love.

Miss Eliza Chicken

Miss Eliza Chicken

Miss Basket (really called Eleanor) spent her first few days in a pink laundry basket as with her blackened foot she was unable to walk. As I tucked her up each evening in a blanket, she bwarked her thanks to me. At one point we feared she may lose her foot but with salt baths and arnica rubs and gentle exercise, she recovered so well you can only see her limp if she runs. Her foot still flicks out lifelessly in front of her but she copes so very well.

Miss Basket Chicken

Miss Basket Chicken

And then there was Effie – the most vulnerable of vulnerable girls. She proved to be much more of a long term challenge. As a sick hen – with her little neck set at right angles (either a birth defect or an injury) – she was a target for other hens and had spent her life being attacked and bullied, having to fight for survival and she was traumatised physically and mentally. In the gentle soul that is Miss Basket though she found a friend. The only hen in her life who did not pick on her. These two girls quickly formed a touching friendship and after many months of love and care, were moved outside into their own special coop and run. Such is Effie’s trauma she is unable to mix with other hens but these two special girls have recently moved from their run into their own part of the garden – a huge space for two little hens!!

Effie and Miss basket enjoy their cake!

Effie and Miss basket enjoy their cake!

It has been a long journey so today was a cause for much celebration!! One whole year free!

The day started with a special breakfast of layers mash with eggy topping and an early morning chorus of Happy Henniversary to you…After we had said a few words at Evie’s grave the girls enjoyed some delicious homemade cakes, some sweetcorn, a quick game of fatball football and then they opened their present and card sent by Effie’s special friend Liz.

It was a splendid day all round!

All of my girls are so special but I must save the final mention for my precious Effie. To me, with her hunched little body and Poirotesque waddle she is truly beautiful. Her inextinguishable spirit has overcome all her emotional and physical problems, she has learnt to trust, she has learnt what is to be loved, she knows what it is to be a free range girl and perhaps most importantly she has found a friend in the darling Miss Basket. She is an inspiration to all who read about her and meet her and I am blessed she chose to spend her life with me.

Miss Effie Chicken

Miss Effie Chicken

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Forgive me it has been a while. The shorter days do not seem to give me enough time to do all the things I want to do. My girls always take priority – I have even been known to sneak home from work during the dark midwinter afternoons to put them to bed!!

So then, a brief update on all my beautiful girls and a wonderful new ex-batt health initiative.

G girls

Gina, Greta and Grace Kelly are settling in well. Little Gina, who almost died after the rehoming, is still a very weak girl but I can find no reason for it other than growing her feathers. She has been dosed up and spoilt with protein-rich foods and supplemented food and drink so I hope I have given her every chance to make a full recovery.

Gina

Greta’s swollen abdomen is responding well to her frusemide, which she has ground up on a piece of scrambled egg. She has grown all her feathers back except for her knickers, which in spite of looking pretty wanton makes it easy to monitor the state of her abdomen.

Grace Kelly is a changed girl from the terrified prolapsed hen we brought home. Her prolapse is cured and her feathers have grown back, along with her confidence. She is great friends with Greta and the two of them patrol the human’s garden (currently theirs), concocting new ways to get into the human's coop (currently not theirs) and devour the cat food (also not theirs.)

Big Girls

It has been moulting season for the big girls. Bella and Eliza have come through their moults with flying colours and are now resplendent in their new feathers complete with showgirl tail feathers!! Bunty Goodchicken has just started her moult and is looking a little bedraggled but still just as beautiful. There is a positive side to her moult though, she is no longer laying internally so has had her medicine reduced. Clara has got over a nasty cold thanks to tylan and is back to being my cuddling and singing girl. Do you know she knows the words to her song, Raindrops on Roses, and will sing along even if I am not cuddling her. My special girl Flavia is the only hen (out of 10) I have who is laying eggs and carries on with her eggy duties without a word of complaint, bless her.

Flavia

Operation Merge is slow going with the combination of moults and illness but this weekend as Gary and I spent time pootling in the garden, Grace and Greta had a wander into the Big Girls Garden with very little incident. A few weekends of gentle introductions and once Gina is back to full health will see Operation Merge go full steam ahead!!

Effie and Miss Basket

The naughtiest girls in Cornwall are doing just great!! Our nightly game of Benny Hill Chase, or Bedtime as I prefer to call it, sees me outwitted each time by a girl with a broken neck and a girl with only one good leg. As their Narnia Garden has been extended to include all four raised beds, Effie and Miss Basket are far too busy to bother with anything as mundane as going to bed. Miss Basket has stopped egg laying now, not that we notice – she ate them anyway!! And Effie is still struggling to complete a full set of tail feathers. On reflection, I think the fact they are still encased in their quills is due to the fact that her little neck will not allow her to reach them and preen them. A poignant reminder of how special my girl is.

Go to bed? Us? Catch us first mum!

And finally…

I had an email the other day from a vet who, knowing how special ex-batts are and how their early lives impact on their free range lives, is compiling as much information and data as possible in order to provide more help for these very special girls. If you can, please visit his facebook page and add your information to help him help our girls.

Thank you xx

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