I had noticed recently that one of my girls, a Silver Laced Wyandote, was looking rather old and tired. She had become unsteady on her feet and occasionally lost her balance and needed her wings to steady herself. This is always a little upsetting to see and a sign that, in the race nature sets us all, old age had finally tapped her on the shoulder.
I bought Beryl and her 4 sisters at a local poultry sale about 3 years ago and knew at the time that the reason they had been put into the sale was probably due to them being over 2 years old and that their egg production either had or was about to start to decline. This happens once a hen reaches 2 years and whilst not a problem to most poultry fanciers, can mean only one thing for those after serious egg production - replacement!
Big Girls like these are not the best layers and although they do lay for a while each year, they prefer to go broody and sit for the rest of it.
For me, having only 2 people and a baby to collect eggs for, this is and has never been an issue. Most eggs produced here at Nunnery Farm, go in the Honesty Box at the end of the lane and my reason for keeping hens is purely for my own self indulgence which is watching different pretty breeds bumble about the gardens.
Relying on their looks rather than their egg production the 5 gorgeous hens sat in their cage and waited patiently. When it was their turn I bid and I won. So the Wyandotes joined the hens 5 and set up home at Nunnery Farm.
They have given me plenty of eggs really over the years and more than that - hours of entertainment and so when I saw the first of these old ladies showing signs that her journey was almost complete it saddened me but at the same time brought a happy feeling - not many hens in today's world live out their lives to the end, and literally fall off their perch! Even a commercial free range egg layer is replaced when she is 2. Where does she go then?
So yesterday I went to check the hens and noticed she was trying to get into one of the lower nest boxes with a struggle. I knew this was the end, she wanted a quiet place to just lay down and sleep. I gathered her up and brought her inside one last time. She had a little cucumber and fresh water and was quite perky but tired.
An hour or so later I took her back to her house and her friends and as she wanted put her in the nest box she had tried to get in to earlier. She ruffled her feathers and sat back quite comfortably. I brushed her cheek, she closed her eyes.
Good Bye x
|Forever At Nunnery Farm|