CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Your Chickens today CLICK HERE

Farewell Squawks

PUBLISHED: 13:56 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:56 21 January 2016

Squawks, centre, surronded by other birds

Squawks, centre, surronded by other birds

Archant

A indomitable bird finally reaches the end of the road explains Martin Gurdon

I must have spent the past three years predicting the imminent demise of Squawks the Black Orpington, so it feels a little strange to report that the dread day has finally arrived.

I’m writing this 24 hours after we finally bade farewell to this indomitable creature, and her absence makes the garden seem oddly denuded, if perhaps a little less bad tempered than before.

I can’t say I’m sad. In chicken terms she had a great life, which went on for a lot longer than birds who were younger and appeared far healthier than she was, yet this animal outlived some of them by years, wheezing her way through rain, snow and sun, at intervals requiring medical intervention, which the vet warned us would probably only be short term.

Squawks had other ideas, and would stage often prolonged recoveries, helped by a mix of good genes and pure determination. We’d fully expected her to expire last winter, but instead she breezed through it and although her health began to decline in the summer, she rallied and enjoyed a good quality of life.

Even in very advanced old age Squawks still appeared to be getting a kick out of being around. Just a couple of days before it became obvious that her time was up, she’d been ripping into large quantities of grapes and sweetcorn, and appeared to be eating her own bodyweight in grain, but the respiratory tract infection that she’d had on and off for years was finally getting the better of her weakening immune system, so it was off to the vet for dispatch.

These infections can be very contagious, and about a month ago, when Squawks had a serious wobble, we finally separated her from the rest of the flock and put her into what might be described as avian sheltered accommodation.

This involved a wire enclosure, over which I could put plastic sheeting, and a cat travel case. She’d hunker down in this at twilight, and I’d take it, and its rasping occupant, to spend the night in the warm and secure environs of the tool shed.

When the sun shone she’d potter round the top half of the garden, which is normally verboten for the chickens, much to the chagrin of the others, who peered belligerently at her from the other side of the gate.

One night she put herself to bed in the tool shed, roosting on a plastic chair. She looked comfortable, so that’s where I left her, but in the morning the bird had vanished.

After much fruitless searching I stopped and listened, and could just make out the bird’s laboured breathing. The noise appeared to be coming from behind a tool cupboard, on which was piled all sorts of DIY detritus.

The shed is a pitiful mess, and it took me about fifteen minutes to move the tottering tool mountain and haul the cupboard forward. Here I discovered a pair of folding metal garden chairs I’d forgotten we’d ever owned, and half perched, half wedged on the cross member of one of them was a disgruntled chicken.

She remained an awkward customer to the bitter end, and I’m glad we helped her enjoy being bloody minded for several more years than had once seemed likely, and when the fun had clearly gone out of life, made sure that she didn’t endure prolonged suffering.

There were occasions when I wondered if we were doing the right thing, and recently they’d become more frequent, but her powers of recovery and subsequent get up and go means that overall I think we got the balance about right.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Your Chickens visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Your Chickens staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Your Chickens account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Care and Advice

Friday, August 10, 2018

Electric fencing can provide valuable extra protection for your poultry

Read more
Friday, August 10, 2018

Coops across the land are set to become littered with feathers as chickens shed their overcoats. Julie Moore reveals how you can help your flock during this stressful period

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

If you have to move your flock, Julie Moore has some practical advice

Read more
August 2018
Monday, July 16, 2018

When prevention is better than cure

Read more
August 2018
Monday, July 16, 2018

The ebullient Rachel Misra runs a boarding service for chicken owners who jet off on holiday. Susie Kearley pays her a visit

Read more
August 2018
Friday, June 8, 2018

Julie Moore takes a look at how the pecking order is established

Read more
July 2018
Friday, June 8, 2018

Can I leave a hen in the nest box to hatch her eggs?

Read more
July 2018
Friday, June 8, 2018

Can a fox jump over the fence? Will my chickens be hurt?

Read more
July 2018
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

In our second extract from her book How To Speak Chicken, writer Melissa Caughey considers play, trauma and loss

Read more
June 2018
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

David Herbert, of Hermit Crab Egg, tells how he got back on his feet after his poultry were killed

Read more
June 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Your Chickens monthly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read

Don't Miss...


Chickens Stateside

Fresh Eggs Daily

Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook