It’s been a while – again. I honestly do not know where the time and days go to. This year has flown by on even faster wings.
I blame it, in part, to Richard still being here. Not, you understand, ‘still being here’ as in I haven’t murdered him yet but as in he still hasn’t joined the great British work force and therefore drifts around the place cluttering up my day. He tells me there is ‘nothing out there.’ This I know is a lie. I think I told you I saw an opening, albeit seasonal, for a Father Christmas at a local store. He has the portly build and the rustic beard, though, to be honest, I do openly admit that he’d be hard pressed uttering the words “Ho Ho Ho” every 5 seconds. “Ho Ho Ho” on a regular basis he is not!
Not to worry, I’m finding him lots of lovely little jobs around the house. The latest was to take up the stair carpet, repaint all the woodwork, and supervise a new carpet being laid. We had an argument, of course, as to whether or not the radiators needed painting. I said, ‘Don’t be an idiot of course they do!’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t think they do.’ Now riddle me this . . . who do you think won this argument?
He tells me that he likes being here with me all day – every day. And what’s more he says it with a straight face. Perhaps there’s an actor’s job going somewhere?
This period of absence has also been down to the fact that I’ve had some sad news and a hard decision to make.
Rita Raptor, the chuck, became poorly, showing symptoms that I’ve seen before in the chucks that I’ve lost. Some days she was up and some days she was down. Then the down days extended until, finally, there were no up days and she stopped eating, drooped her little wings and closed her tired eyes. I’ve been struggling with the health of my hens for the last few years and I have now come to the conclusion that they must be finding something out in the garden that doesn’t agree with them. I have no idea what it could be. It certainly isn’t the conditions in which they are living under. My chuck cage and outside run is cleaner than a hospital operating theatre!
I knew from past, sad experience, that Rita wasn’t going to pull through so we took her to the vet who confirmed my fears and she was put to sleep. Richard and I didn’t speak coming home in the car. It’s hard to trust your voice when you have an emotional lump wedged in your throat.
This left Mabel.
We had been in this situation three times now – left with just one chicken – and each time we had rushed to the farm and brought another chuck home as company to the remaining hen. I wasn’t going to do that this time. The time had come to end all of this. Whatever was killing my chucks could not kill another. Mabel was the sweetest, tamest, loveliest hen you could ever find. She followed me around the garden like a doe-eyed puppy, coming instantly when I called her, always on the lookout for a little treat. For the next week we only shut Mabel in her summer-house at night to roost. During the day she spent time down at the house, having a few treats and being allowed to scratch in the ‘forbidden’ part of the garden.
After a week I did something that broke my own heart. I took her to the local animal sanctuary, two miles from here. I couldn’t keep her on her own, I couldn’t risk getting another, and I couldn’t accept her going the same way as the others.
She didn’t utter a chirrup all the way there, just sat patiently in Chea’s cat basket watching the world go by the car window. When we got to the sanctuary the girl let her out of the basket and they gave her a quick health check. They remarked that she was in excellent condition and in return she clucked and blinked and then started to ‘talk’ to me – ‘chicken’ people will know exactly what I mean. I imagined the dear soul saying, ‘I’ve enjoyed my little trip out . . . can we go home now?’
They asked if we wanted to see where she was going . . . with three other chucks and a cockerel. We didn’t. I couldn’t. She would have to battle while she found her place within the pecking order and I would be tempted to scoop her up into my arms and bring her home and treat her with a bit of cooked pasta that I had in the fridge.And besides, they would witness two grown adults crying over a chicken.
We left her there, still ‘talking’ to me, and we walked away.
Richard dismantled the nest boxes, perches, dividing partition and stored away the feed and water containers. I won’t have any more chucks here.
The garden is like a tomb . . . as quiet as the grave. I miss them terribly. I stand and watch the sunlight spearing down through the shrubs into the undergrowth and I can see them. I am stupid. I know that. They were only chickens. Nothing THAT important. But I can’t convince myself of that . . . not yet . . . and knowing me, not ever. So, you see, I chose to break my own heart. Yep, stupid. Really stupid.
Take care all x