Saturday, June 12, 2010

We've Had a Bereavement

When my hubby's father died, over ten years ago, we took his four brown hens home with us. They have long since gone to the hen heaven but we have always acquired other peoples hens, they couldn't keep for one reason or another. Some never lay while others have happily (well I think so) provided us with fresh home raised eggs which taste and look so different to shop bought ones.
They also scratch around in their "run" which later becomes a stretch of garden, re-fertilised for our vegetables, when the hen house and run are moved across to a new patch.
This is a picture taken about three years ago. Here you can see my spring garden with the hen house and its' run, extended over two of our four vegetable patches, plus the extra patch ready to be dug for the new season potato planting.
You can also see some of the hens we were given after the first brown hens died. We raised these from month old chicks.
Two of them died earlier this year and although the other two didn't lay very often, we have always been reluctant to dispose of them, one way or another, as they sort of become friends.
And besides they may not give us many eggs but they keep the gardens to be used, scratched over scratching the food scraps, grass clippings, other garden clippings, weeds and wood ash into the soil along with their own 'chooky poo'.

Recently we collected three more hens from a family that were moving to the South Island of New Zealand and they couldn't take the hens with them.
A mother (the white one with dark grey feather around her neck) we called Gloria and her two grown chicks; the white one called Snow White and the black one, my son has named Queenie, as she is a breed that has a feathered crown on her head.
Ginge, (on the left) our grey hen with flecks of ginger feathers around her neck and orange legs, is now our only old hen left.

This evening when I went out to feed them all their laying pellets and wheat I noticed Henny Penny (out worrier) - the grey hen on the right in the front of this photo - didn't come to be fed.
Looking around the 'run' I thought maybe she has decided to be a bit of a sitter, so I checked the nesting box. As I didn't see her there I double checked the run and then around the garden, as they do love to be out and scratch away in the vegetable garden for insects and tender vege shoots!!!
However there was still no sign of her so I rechecked the hen house and there she was - curled up and dead - as if she had just gone in there to die.

So Henny Penny 
is no more and will be buried in the garden 
where she will continue to give to the circle of seasons 
in our vegetable garden.

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