Friday, 27 December 2013

A Hen Of No Importance


This spate of wet, blustery and cold weather will see off the old and the sick within the hen population. Several of the nondescript " refugees" that arrived in the autumn have already faded away, their bodies keeping the small badger population in the next field topped up with protein during the sparse winter months.
Such is the way of the world.

Last week one of the refugees ( an old muddy coloured hen) started to look somewhat frail and unwell. She was light and off her food, so I popped her in with Phyllis Diller , gave her a short course of antibiotics then placed her back in her own hen house to let nature swing her one way or the other.
The hen neither improved or deteriorated , she remained stubbornly " unwell"...so it was inevitable that the other hens, who often mistrust a fellow that is " different " in any way, would start to pick on her.
On Christmas Day the muddy coloured hen disappeared. I suspect the other hens had driven her out into the field to die, so I thought nothing more about it.....I had more pressing things to think about......
That was until I locked the animals up for the night yesterday.
It was almost dark and terribly squally when I  tottered from one hen house to another in my hat and scarf.  The Ukrainian village was deserted, for even the sheep had hidden themselves away in the bad weather, so it was a case of lock the doors and leg it back to the cottage.

I was just dragging my wellies through the mud, when a movement from the hawthorn hedge caught my eye. I thought it was a rabbit at first, but out of the darkness, about thirty feet away crept the muddy coloured hen.
Purposefully, she made her way over to where I stood, and stopped an inch from my foot. There she stood hunched and sad obviously waiting for me to " do something" before the darkness really hit home.
When the shit hits the fan, animals will often overcome any natural shyness with humans, in order to maintain their own safety....it's a strange phenomenon , and a rather a moving one to witness.
It is also not as rare as one may think.

I picked the bland little hen up and tucked her safely away in my coat where she shivered quietly against the crook of my arm before I found her a space in a spare coop with food and water....and I thought to myself that I had just witnessed something rather wonderful.....a small little moment of contact between a nondescript pea brained, sick old hen.....and a 51 year old fart who was rushing home to keep warm

65 comments:

  1. :) too.

    wait a sec - yesterday you described yourself as an "old queen", today you are an "old fart". make up your mind, man, WHICH IS IT? or are you a "farty old queen"? ;-b

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    1. Anne Marie.....got it in one!

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  2. Ah, you soft hearted 51yr old fart!xxx

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    1. No....just fascinated in the truce that can occur between animals when the need arises

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  3. There is a great photo I saw once of a chicken and a fox sharing a bit of driftwood during a bad flood somewhere. Temporary truce.

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    1. I have tried to find it via google..... No luck as yet......

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  4. You are a good man, John Gray.

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  5. Dear sweet little hen...she's not ready to die yet.

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  6. I often end up with tears of laughter or sadness when I pop by here. Today I have a huge lump in my throat and tears rolling down my face as I think about the tenderness and compassion you show to your animals (and humankind in general.) I hope the little hen lives to see another day. x

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    1. She's back in with Phyllis .....so is now safe from the bullies

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  7. You're an angel John...

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  8. Poor little girl...you John are a beautiful soul. One in a million.

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  9. Nature often comes up trumps!

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  10. I might just have to stop reading these your posts, they are too much for my fragile mind. Tears again so soon after the dog on the bed, its toooooo much.
    Surely there is a medal out there somewhere for people like you John.
    Despite the tears, a lovely posts.
    Briony
    xx

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  11. Lovely story John - sometimes hens can be stronger than they look - at other times they die if you look at them. This old girl is obviously a tough old bird (hope I am likewise.) Happy New Year to you all.

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    1. My friend Eirlys had a couple of very timid hens force their way into her kitchen when a fox turned up unexpectedly

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  12. Sitting here still in my jammies, tear in the eye.

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  13. What a sweet story and what a sweet man to care about an old sick, muddy colored hen.

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  14. You are a Good man. A very Good man indeed.

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  15. The true Good Samaritan in action. Makes me proud to know you. I send the little old dear my heartfelt best wishes.

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    1. Naw ww....just looking after my egg machines

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    2. Sorry, but I don't buy that for one minute.
      You're an old softy with a heart of gold who wouldn't see any creature suffer if there was something you could do about it.
      Which there usually is.

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    3. Yes, Joan. J.G.'s just allowing his modesty to spoil it.

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    4. Oops, sorry, JEAN!

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  16. awwwww lucky hen, lucky you.

    cheers, parsnip

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  17. I'm glad she hung on until she saw you, and that you saw her.

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  18. Poor sweet little thing, perhaps there is something more in her future. I am a believer in things happening for a reason, if not just to be part of your life a little longer.

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  19. Very interesting John. She must know you represent safety, even if she does not show she knows it in normal circumstances.

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  20. Poor sweet girl.....tenderness comes in all shapes and sizes....

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  21. Animals certainly overcome their fear and shyness when they're ill. I have just lost a hen who hatched out last Feb and had her first two chicks this October. She was also poorly, I fed her antibiotics but today she lay down and within four hours her head was twisted back and her legs in the air. I made her comfortable in a sunny patch in the garden but ten minutes later when I checked on her, she had died. She fed a two-legged African "badger" who was just too grateful to take home a substantial dinner tonight! Good on you for rescuing your muddy brown hen. xxx

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  22. That's a lovely story, all the more heart warming because she is a hen of no importance.

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    1. ah but Sue, she's important to her! x

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  23. I can only agree with all the previous posts…dear little hen, and bless you for being the animal lover that you are. You do keep making me cry though! Sad animal stories affect me more than anything else….often just don't read things in the newspaper, as I know I can't cope! Do the dogs chase the chooks? X

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  24. A hen which has gained recognition of her importance. I doubt that our queen (farty or not)has the compassion and care for her subjects that you do.

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  25. A hen of no importance no longer. She has half of blog world rooting for her.

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  26. My oldest hen, a tiny 11 year old bantam, is spending her third winter in the house with us. Her balance isn't great and she looks a mess, but she eats grandly and will peck your hand (or the cat's paw) in a minute. Before this one, my eldest hen lived to be 17. She stayed nights in a carrier next to the wood stove, but was fine outdoors during the day. They do appreciate being taken care of.

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    1. You must be doing something right jan... My oldest hen is around seven

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  27. Poor little hen. You should have taken her in, given her a hot bath with some sweet tea and warmed her up a little. What a lovely moment though with man and beast, so to speak. Hope they all get through this cold winter which is about to hit us very hard.

    John, it's been a pleasure. Hope you and your family have a great and wonderful New Year.

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  28. You should let her join you in the bed. Put your arm around her and kiss her goodnight.

    Love,
    Janie

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  29. You must have gathered a few of those 'small little moments of contact' over the years John......makes for a wonderful man.

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  30. Living with & caring for barnyard animals can make for strange bedfellows. I admired the poor little hen for her determination to beat the odds. She either had a moment of chicken enlightenment or instinctively looked to you for help making it through another night. The hen must have known you were her last chance for finding refuge from predators & poor weather conditions. Fear is a great motivator for every species to do things out of the ordinary..
    John, I admire your decision to take a moment to help the poor hen when you had more pressing things to do. A good shepherd doesn't turn a blind eye to the most vulnerable of the flock - even a rattled pea hen who's time is short. Your conscience should be light as a feather today.

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    1. If she had enough chutzpah to walk over to me in the dark.....I thought I had better give her another go

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  31. What a beautiful story.

    I have noticed that with livestock. They know when you are there to help. A cow who would normally kick you to town will lay quietly and let you assist with a birth. God help you when she gets on her feet and the calf is up feeding...you know to stay far away.

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    1. I would love to know if it is an actual " understanding" or is it just the fact that the animal is beyond caring?

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  32. You've lightened my heart once again John. I've had this happen to me several times with lambs that are the bottom of the totem pole. It's heart wrenching to be shunned by your own kind. sigh

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    1. It's that little flicker of understanding that another species could help you that I find fascinating

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  33. Kind man, I think animals do know when they need help. My dog always let's me know when she needs her anal glands emptied and is in pain.

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  34. Oh what a lovely story, brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful caring person you are!

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    1. Nope.... Please don't say that,.....believe me I ain't a saint

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  35. Oh bugger! More tears before New Year. John you are a remarkable man. I love hearing your stories, it's the first place I stop by in the mornings. Thank goodness for you and people like you who take in all the feathered or furred that no one else would think of. God bless x

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  36. Great story, John. ♥

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  37. I have read your post (as I do - up there with the hens first thing in the morning clucking around), I have read the comments and I agree with all of them: You are a remarkable man. It would take you committing at least two murders before you'll lose so much as half of one of your readers, groupies, fanclub. I dare say we'd visit you in prison. Queing in disorderly fashion. I will smuggle Albert past security. Hope he is not given to miaowing at the wrong moment.

    As to that link, that moment, when human and beast connect, I couldn't agree more, John: It's extraordinary. One of my biggest regrets that we can't "talk" to each other. One of my cats was a talker. She and I had truly intense conversations. Her vocabulary was vast. Her empathy an ocean. I'd have given a lot to have had a proper translation. Oh, to look into the mind of an animal (when it's not hungry) is the holy grail, denied to us humans. Sometimes I wish I were on the other side of the fence. Obviously not as hen. It's too easy for one's neck to be wrung. Which reminds me: Do you remember that awful Hitchcock film? Forgotten the name for a minute. Essentially it was a red haired killer (he used ties to strangle women) who sold potatoes on a London market as his day job. What's that got to do with the life of a hen in a Welsh village is anyone's guess.

    Clueless,
    U

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  38. A survivor and a great CHristmas tale. x

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  39. Beautiful moment. We are all the same.

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  40. Don't have words.....just .....sigh x

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  41. A wonderful litle story about your muddy pea brained hen. I too experienced something quite like that on Dec 24th. I greeted my hens on Eve morning with a special little pat to my Copper Maran who 7 years old, she was loking very frail. This beautiful hen ( 25$ speciality bird) has given me over 150 chicks, she mothered over 100 meat birds as well. She was a wonderful broody gal. In her laying prime her chocolate colored eggs were sought after by all my neighbors. I said outloud to her that morning, "girl you have been good to us I hope you fair well this cold New England winter and make it to spring." Sadly on Christmas morning as I brought out their hot oats she was dead in her favorite laying box, the home that she hatched out over 20 clutches in. We miss the royal girl.
    BTW love your stories and have I have become famous for my scotch eggs, something this New Englander knew nothing about until your mention of your delightful fondness for them. Recipes on the stateside were few and far between, I question if I am using the proper sausage type? Keep writing, Denise

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  42. “I still can’t help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such. Chicken houses

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