This week we lost a chicken. Hermione had been living a happy, free range life in our orchard for over four years and died in a peaceful way. While we will miss her and her eggs, her passing is not something I was planning on writing about until a strange thing occurred in the barn.
This year we have had no shortage of either chicken or duck eggs and it has been months since we had an eggless day, until this week. The day after Hermione died no one laid an egg. Whether in shock, mourning or as a mark of respect I have no idea, but it reminded me of a sad event many years ago.
We begun keeping birds by accident when a male Muscovy duck arrived in our orchard and decided to stay. We named him Yum Yum and bought him some white lady ducks for company and began enjoying their eggs. Over the years ducks came and went, but Yum Yum and one of these white ladies, Dirty Beak, remained together. When Dirty Beak died of old age Yum Yum just gave up on life and within a week had died too. He obviously missed her and it was heartbreaking to watch. We realised then that ducks are a family and have feelings, and it seems that chickens do too.