Yesterday was a sad day. As I went to shut the girls in, I noticed a still, lifeless body in the run. Aggie, our feisty little brown chicken was no more. At first I thought a fox had got into the garden, but on closer inspection it simply seemed to be a case of old age.
We adopted Aggie and Winnie a couple of years ago, and on reflection they have produced the most expensive eggs in the history of the universe. I don’t recall Aggie actually laying any eggs, and Winnie’s production line is sporadic, to say the very least.
First there was the expense of getting them a coop. It soon became apparent that although this was marketed for 4 birds, if they were going to walk around at any point this wouldn’t be nearly big enough (ever seen chickens doing a do-si-do?), so I bought a massive dog crate to use as an extension. Then we decided that we wanted something a bit more permanent, so off the OH went to the wood yard to spend just a bit more money on the girls, and he built them a des res run . Oh, and then we had to get a couple more girls in, as by this point, we were still only on about one egg a week.
In the early days, Winnie was by far the superior chicken, and Aggie was henpecked. At one point, she was so bald on the front that I thought she might have psychological issues, and actually be a self-harmer, which was quite understandable, coming from a broken home as she had. I even made her a dress to cover her modesty…
However, all that changed when we introduced Mildred and Maud, the two Marans from the RSPCA. All the helpful folks on the ‘tinterweb said to introduce new girls at night when they were all dopey. I diligently followed this advice, and stole down at dusk to pop the new ones into the roost. You would have thought I’d put a fox in there. The chicken house was banging about, and it soon became apparent that Aggie and Winnie did not want lodgers. This resulted in me having to separate the girls completely during the day for a few months. It was a long process, but worth it in the end as finally they all got on together, and peace was restored.
Well, peace was restored, but the pecking order changed somewhat. They say that the bullied will get their come-uppance… Aggie glided through the ranks with the stealth of a gazelle, and instantly became top chicken. She filled out, her feathers grew back thick and plush, and she even walked with a cocky little gait. Mildred and Maud (and Winnie, to some extent) were kept firmly in line.
Time went on. Aggie strutted (but didn’t lay), Mildred and Maud scarpered (and laid like troopers), and Winnie just kept out of the way. Aggie went a bit ‘crouchy in the summer, and we thought we were going to lose her, but after plopping out her last and final egg (with no shell on), she perked up no end.
Until yesterday. I gently removed her still little body, wrapped it up in bags, and gave her a dignified burial in the black bin. To my knowledge you can’t put dead chickens in with the recycling. A garden burial was out of the question, as we have a terrier who likes to dig things up, and I couldn’t face the thought of a tearful reuinion with Aggie three months from now.
So, my final words on this subject are, “rest in peace, Aggie – you were a good egg”.