Sunday, 27 July 2008

Pig-shed hen RIP

Listening to: Nothin' (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss)
Weather: fog

Death is a fact of life on the farm/croft/smallholding, but that never makes it any easier to handle.

One of the hens had marked herself out as a real individual. She had given up laying and on many holdings would have found her way into the pot. But we operate a 'no dropping dead unless given express permission by the sort-of-pig-farmer who happens to be a big softy' policy.

As a result, this one, at least, was going to get a long retirement. She had moved out of the henhouse (mostly to escape Adam's amorous advances) and lived off spilt or leftover pig feed.

So I felt upset and guilty when I found her dead in the pen with Kim's six piglets. We had tried to discourage her from going in with the boisterous piglets, but nothing worked and I can only assume she was caught up in the general rush for feed yesterday morning. Her body was pretty battered, but the piglets hadn't tried to eat her.

Many farmers, smallholders and crofters are hardened to the death of animals. One crofter-blogger who breeds Berkshire pigs seems to revel in showing how tough he is (I haven't read his blog since he illustrated how quickly piglets grow by posting a picture of three dead ones he'd been keeping in his freezer. Weirdo.)

I'm very much at the soft end of farming and I make no apologies for that. To me, it's impossible when you have only a few animals not to get attached and, even though I have an irrational fear of hens, I really liked Pig-Shed Hen. She made me smile and the place is all the poorer for her absence.


snailbeachshepherdess said...

Ah bless her - there is always one...we have one at the moment that has taken to living with the aylesbury drake ...and should the doors be open she does circuits of the house ..she got locked in the other day by mistake and by the time we came home all the cats were herded into the conservatory too frightened to come out ...she has just tap tapped past me ...the doors are open...who says chickens are dim?

Lindsay said...

Like your choice of music and enjoy reading your blog.

KAZ said...

'an irrational fear of hens' is a strange thing for someone who appreciated this old timer.

Good for you Malc. She must have died happy.

P.S. Can't get used to Robert Plant in his reincarnation.

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

So sorry to hear... It doesn't ever get any easier I don't think.

Pebbles said...

It really doesn't get any easier - not if you have a heart. You may get used to the physical side of dealing with a dead animal's body but not the emotional part of losing a creature you have cared for. I dread ever losing one of my 'favourites'.
Sounds like she had a lovely, happy, free life :)

Anonymous said...

Never mistake soppy sentimentality for proper concern.
You are far ahead of the Berkshire breeder, who sounds like Right Berk[shire] and your good care will take you even further.

Ginni Dee said...

The good ones never live long enough. That's a harsh lesson I've learned from having pets all my life.

Sorry about your hen. I sure wish you lived closer, I'd give you 2 or 3 lovely pullets that are just about to start laying. As they have grown, I've come to realize that the space I have for my hens is getting more and more crowded. I need to go from 11 of them down to about 8. I'm attached to all of them tho. It's going to be hard, but I'm trying to find them a good home. A home where the people will consider them pets instead of dinner!!

Richard said...

Poor chicken.

An Irrational Fear of Hens. I think that was the album Caravan never released, wasn't it?

Dave said...

I'm still toying on the livestock front, once I move onto my fraction of an acre.

susi said...

Sorry to hear. Accidents are a hazard of free ranging. We used to have "Adventure Hen" who wouldn't roost in the henhouse with the others. She went all over the place and had a lovely time but was got by a fox in the end.

I know the blog you mention and I don't read it any more either.

fiwa said...

I'm sorry to hear about Pig-Shed-Hen, but look at it this way. She wanted to be different and live outside the flock, and you let her. She was probably happy in her own chicken way.

I'm a softie too.

lovins -
PS - you asked about the "semi" that hit me. A semi is a transport truck - not as big as an 18 wheeler, but still, a BIG truck.

Malc said...


Amazing, isn't it, that a brain so small can work out fairly complex issues.


Mrs SPF disagrees about the taste in music - and dares call me a 'music fascist' for not liking Amy Winehouse.


It's taken me a few listens to really get to like the album, and I still prefer his work with Jimmy Page. Ms Krauss is a damn sight easier on the eye than Jim, though.


Definitely not. It's reached the stage here where I feel responsible for every animal in the place, so I'm feeling very guilty.


She was allowed to do pretty much as she pleased, so I suppose that's some consolation.


Thanks, nice of you to say so.


I had similar feelings when selling the piglets. I wanted them all to go to 'good homes'.


It's more early Floyd, I'd have thought.


Hens would be ideal.


At least our hens are safe from foxes - unless they learn to swim, that is.


Thanks for the explanation. I tell you what a 'semi' is over here some day!

Daphne said...

Chickens are strangely endearing creatures, I think - it's their perpetually-confused, head-on-one-side look.

I, like the view said...



but at least she enjoyed her time


(won't be able to watch Chicken Run again without thinking of you guys now!)

mig bardsley said...

There's something especially endearing about animals who give you their trust even when they live an unfettered life. And you can't help but miss them.