I’ve had a really bad run of luck lately with my birds. I have chickens, ducks and geese and they are pets. Like many expats in France I tried the self-sufficiency route; however it wasn’t for me so now I just eat a lot of eggs and act as kind of butler to the birds.
Chickens live for about four years and my first chickens have reached and surpassed that so they’re starting to die off. A friend gave me some beautiful chickens and a couple of them were injured by the cockerels that came with them and who changed suddenly from being wary of each other but calm, into manic opponents. Gimpy the very affectionate brown chicken dislocated her hip and then Gloria the goose seemed to lose the loss of her legs. I raised Gloria in the house after I bought her at a garden centre last autumn as a chick and I’m very fond of her (that’s her in the middle in the top photo). I tell you, it’s not like it is in the films looking after chickens!
I went up to the pen last week and she was lying down on the floor and instead of running at me honking like she normally does she stayed there. When I went towards her she just dragged herself off on her belly. I put her in a pen on her own with food and water and just hoped for the best but for 5 days she hardly moved. I thought that it might be better to end her suffering and in floods of tears I carried her yesterday into the garden to enjoy the grass that I know she loves, to spend her last day in a good way. I told her how sorry I was and sat with her for a while and then the OH (Other Half) told me to stop being such an idiot and leave the poor bird alone to enjoy the sun and the grass.
I went off to work (in my office in the house!) and kept an eye on her to make sure she was okay – she was always in the same spot.
At the end of each day I go up to the pens, check the birds have water, give them some food, sometimes a treat, and make sure everyone is where they should be. So, the end of yesterday, Gloria’s last day, I went up with a heavy heart knowing that I had to let her go and that it wasn’t fair to carry on hoping that she’d be okay.
Imagine my surprise then, when, as I approached Gloria, she got up on her legs and stiffly marched off. You could have knocked me down with one of her feathers. I rushed into the house to get the OH who was busy designing a website for a client and wasn’t at all happy to be interrupted by my telling him he had to come and see that Gloria walking round the garden.
Today she is in with the ducks and chickens and not with her geese friends and learning to walk again– one of the other geese is nesting (on about thirty eggs) and they are all a bit tetchy so I want to her to stay peaceful and quiet. As she’s much bigger than the birds she’s in with, they won’t mess with her despite the fact that there are ducks and chickens nesting on piles of eggs all over the place.
My next problem will be if all the birds that are nesting manage to hatch just half their eggs – I am quite possibly going to be over run.