When I arrived on site, it was a blistering 26 degrees despite being mid afternoon. I opened up the shed and let Roxy and Foxy out to have a quick roam. Next I ambled down to the main coop to see how the chickens were getting on.
Right by the door I spotted Hattie. Sometimes, the girls like dust bathing in the small space between the step and the side of the coop. I watched, waiting for movement. Nothing. Sensing something wasn’t quite right, I opened the coop door. Usually, this is the queue for mad panic away from the large human blundering in. Still nothing. Looking down, I saw that she had passed away. She had shown no signs of illness but often birds don’t. Hattie was the last of the rescue ex-commerical hens we got from Fresh Start for Hens, a charity that regimes thousands of farm birds every year. They arrived in July 2014, featherless and terrified after being collected and transported from the farm to a local collection point then a short car journey to the allotment. They spent a couple of days in a small isolation coop before joining the rest of our flock in the main coop.
Over the next few weeks, their feathers grew in and they learnt chicken behaviours such as sunbathing and dust bathing. Hattie in particular, quickly climbed the pecking order and for the last year has been at the top with Aggie and Tommy. There is something rather special about Warrens – many people aren’t especially fond of them as they can have a tendency towards illness and genetic issues but with patience (and some bribery) they can be delightful companions. Hattie was always inquisitive, always in the middle of everything and gave as good as she got. She was a big personality and the flock will be very different without her.
With the loss of Hattie, our flock is Warren-less, if that is the right word. It’s a strange sight as we have always had warrens with the exception of a short period prior to rescuing Hattie, Georgie and Katie. Our first trio of hens were Warrens (Lottie, Maisie and Doris) who were quickly followed by Betty, Annie and Evie. Hattie and her sisters won’t be the last Warrens we have, but for now our flock will have to continue without them.