Friday, 27 August 2010

RIP Mrs D-P

I'm sad to report that our oldest hen, Mrs Dooms-Patterson, dropped off her perch last night. Literally. I found her on the floor of the hen house this morning.

Mrs D-P, the black and grey hen (centre)

She seemed fine yesterday, pecking at the windfall apples, pulling out grass and lumbering after insects. She was slow in her old age, hindered by drooping front and backsides, but she was still top dog...eh, hen...around here. Mike and I calculated that she was about 9 years old, which is Methuselah in chicken terms. She hasn't laid an egg since forever, but that didn't matter.

I'm glad she was here long enough to enjoy this year's exceptional summer weather. After I take the horses out and harvest a few hedgerow fruits, I'll bury Mrs D-P next to Charles our old cockerel, down by the river. They can keep each other company. And I can visit them on shoot days.

I'll miss her but I'm not sad. Mrs Dooms-Patterson had a long, free-range life and a peaceful passing. Maybe I'll bury a few elderberries with her - she was partial to them and I would hate for her to miss out on this year's bounty.

11 comments:

Poppy Cottage said...

:0( xx

Paula said...

Love the hyphenated name! Sorry you lost the old girl, but we all gotta go sometime.

Jennifer Montero said...

Paula - We should all be so lucky to drop off in our sleep after a long life. The chickens are already establishing a new pecking order.

Captain Shagrat said...

Sounds like she fell on her feet living at your gaff all this time. So many stories of mistreatment to animals these days but it lifts the spirits that there are so many more people who care

Jennifer Montero said...

Captain S - We inherited her from old Jack, a sensible farmer who culls his hens when they're past laying. By culling I mean drops them off to soft-hearted fools like us who give them a free ride til they die of natural causes. She was already nearing 3 yrs old we we took her in.

Mike and I both feel, rightly or wrongly, that if something's done a job for you - a hen that lays eggs or a spaniel that picks up birds - it deserves a retirement for its years of service. That motto might go some way to explaining our motley band of animals.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Dang it Julia, you're the only one I know that can bring me to tears over a chicken. What's wrong with me??!!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Although we haven't actually done it yet, we are planning to cull our chickens when their egg-laying days are on the wane. But I do see the appeal of making the deal with your working animals that they give you their best years and you give them retirement. There's something about having an elder statesman hen keeping an eye on the coop ...

May we all drop off our perches in our sleep when it's our turn to join Mrs. D-P in the great henhouse in the sky.

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Awwwwww, that's so sad. And so sweet. And, just so RIGHT. That's how I feel about my chickens. Lay while you can, and when you're done, you can just hang around and keep order with the youngsters, and hopefully, just drop off your perch in your sleep some night. WOuldn't it be good if life was like that for US? I hope you did bury some elderberries for her. That's perfect. What a snapshot, a single still shot, really, this post is, of life in the country. I love it.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Okay, so with much embarrassment, I confess, when I made my last comment, I was thinking of Julia at Henhouse Pottery. Jennifer, I apologize a hundred times over! I know well, the difference between the two of you! My only excuse is that it was very late and I was very tired from shoveling gravel all afternoon. I hope you both will forgive me. I love you both and love following your blogs. You're two of my favorites!

Jennifer Montero said...

Karen - We don't worry about stuff like that here, I knew you meant me. Plus, if I had to apologise for every senior moment I had...well, I wouldn't have time to write a blog for starters. Thanks for the kind words.

Tamar - I'm aware that our choice to give some animals retirement and not others is a random and personal distinction. I think the only way I can bond with the breeding girls - sheep included - is if I give them a special exemption for their work.

Eating them as you're sensibly choosing to do is definitely the the most efficient way. You'd get farmer's credibility in our village. I'm interested to know if the Orps really taste like buttered popcorn.

Jennifer Montero said...

DHimC - I can assure you I sent her off with a few branches of elderberries, and she's next to the old cockerel with a nice view of the river.

Silly how we get so attached to what is usually classed as 'livestock' but I defy anyone who keeps chickens not to have a favorite, or at least a funny story about their flock and its individual personalities.