Hens have a way of fixing you with a look:
As she got older, Betty’s feathers darkened. The pattern on her back was distinctive and reminded me of wholegrain oats.
She came to live at our house in March 2021 from Dunedin, with her two flock-mates, Mabel and Vera.
Her previous owners came to visit from time to time.
For over a year, we had a flock of five hens and plenty of eggs. In the last few months, however, egg production has stopped permanently. These brown shavers are bred to produce and then die, basically. Now Betty is gone, there are two left.
Betty had been sick for a week. I had to carry her out of her house each day and she would sit in a quiet, shady spot all day, sipping water and only occasionally showing an interest in food.
Mabel and Vera sat with her a lot during the day. She would walk back to her house each night – until the last two days when I had to carry her. She passed away last night.
There was an ‘open casket viewing’ before burial.
The chicken burial plot under the lilac tree is quite crowded now: Betty No 1, Dora, Popcorn. I buried Betty nearby under some roses where there is undercover of violets and Solomon’s Seal.