She was our last remaining rescue chicken.
She started to sulk a while after the snow came, so we brought her indoors and nursed her. She'd been ill in the summer and recovered, but this time she didn't make it, despite all our efforts.
She will be missed, as will the other three ladies that came to us with her back in July 2009 who died earlier this year.
There's always a risk with ex battery hens that they may not live too long - as they had a hard life beforehand. Although they lived a much shorter time than I expected, I trust that they had a happy extension to their time on earth living with us.
So, here's a trip down memory lane to remember our first (but I suspect not our last) hens.
When we got them in 2009 they were in a bit of a mess, with feathers missing, pale combs and beaks and pale faces, yet their colour started to come back within a couple of days, but really it took a month or two for them to make their transformation into healthy looking hens.
Here the ladies are trying to gain entry to the polytunnel (why are out of bounds areas so favored?)
Here's Frenchie. They also loved to take dust baths in the pile of builders sand (no photos of that though, sorry) and roam around with the ducks trying to find gaps in the hedge !
Here's Madge and her big comb - she was still looking a bit scruffy back then .. in fact, she was always a bit scruffy .. and completely daft .. but she could run fastest when pasta was offered! She was also the most docile .. and the easiest to pick up .. you could even cuddle her .. although she wasn't greatly impressed.
Here's the girls up in Co Down last winter, braving their first snow.
Here's winkles this Spring.
Here's the whole gang, with the ducks, waiting for bread or pasta - ever hopeful.
They also loved to 'help' me with the gardening i.e. to scratch up where I'd just been working in case I'd unearthed anything interesting. The ducks were always the best slug catchers - they even tried snails (by drowning them in their pool .. I jest not) but the chickens would have a go too and try to catch moving insects.
So, I have greatly appreciated the eggs and antics of my feathered friends over the past year and a half, they all had great personalities and made me laugh a lot.
It's really sad to have lost them all too soon (Winkles disappeared, maybe to visit Mr Fox, Frenchie dashed under the wheels of the van, Madge got ill last summer and died and now Bennie). Thank goodness the ducks are young, healthy, amusing and still laying!
I found it a challenge to deal with sick chickens. To us they are pets, but they aren't quite as docile / well handled as really domesticated pets - like our fancy rats, dog and cats. I find myself very short on expertise about their state of health (I can't spot things as easily as I can with my better known pets), handling them easily etc - but it's always a learning curve with 'new' animals.
As I said earlier, we will most likely get some more chickens in the future, but I want to wait until we're settled back in Leitrim before we even think about it.
I hope that the girls did have a good life with us and that they enjoyed their new found freedom. It really was heartwarming to see their first excursions onto grass (they hardly knew how to walk on it at first, but instinct quickly returned), to see them basking in the sunshine, taking a dust bath or chasing butterflies.
So long ladies, it was good knowing you .. and you won't be forgotten.