With life comes sad times. My favorite chicken of all times, ever, Lucy, died yesterday. Rest in peace, Sweet Lucy. My Lucy-Goosey.
Lucy was one of our original chicks - that makes her almost 5 years old. That's old for a bantam hen. Lucy was so tame. She loved to be pet and have her neck rubbed. She knew her name and always came when called. I would go out into the chicken pen, look for Lucy and call her name. She'd be thirty feet away, hear me calling her, stop her digging or whatever she was doing, and come running to me. She always came running when I called her. I'd always open the gate and let her out by herself. She never attempted to run away from me and always let me pick her up, so I knew it was safe to let her out of the pen. We don't let the chickens free-range without me around, too many foxes. So Lucy and I would go for a short walk, she always walked beside me very well, and then we'd stop to dig. I'd find a stick and she'd assist digging with her feet. We'd dig for worms, which she'd gobble up. She and I went for a walk and a dig right up to the end of her life when she could barely walk anymore. I carried her these last few months to the digging spot because she couldn't walk. Sometimes she'd almost fall over when we were digging, but she still tried to dig for worms. She didn't "lose her mind" when she got old. Her body got slow and frail, but she was still the same old Lucy. She still reacted just like she always did to me.
Lucy never really cared for other chickens, she did her own thing. She wasn't a follower. Doing what other chickens do is normal flock behavior, but Lucy was unique. The other chickens emulated her actions.
The last few months Lucy could barely walk. She couldn't navigate the ramp to the outside pen to leave the coop. We made sure she had food and water inside the coop. She couldn't jump up on the roost at night, instead she slept on the floor of the coop underneath the other chickens by herself. It was sad seeing her down on the floor by herself at night, but we knew she was a loner anyway, she probably didn't mind.
And then Bonnie started sleeping on the floor beside Lucy at night.
Big Bonnie, she is called. Bonnie is the opposite of Lucy in looks. Bonnie weighs about 20 pounds to Lucy's 2 pounds. Bonnie is huge, she's a meat breed of bird, one that normally is raised to butcher for meat. Bonnie was a shelter chicken - she rescued her from the local animal shelter. She was caged in someone's house and fed table scraps and kept for her eggs. She got very fat on table scraps. I think she also ate fast food, whatever, her diet was terrible. Then it seems she stopped laying eggs, probably because of her poor condition because of her bad diet, and whoever had her didn't want her anymore. I bet you they got another chicken to abuse. They didn't know what they were doing - they got a meat breed of bird instead of an egg-laying breed. They were city people who wanted fresh eggs. So Bonnie was tossed out into the city streets, left to wander on her own. I guess they didn't know how to butcher a chicken or they probably would have butchered her. Only Bonnie was so fat and because she was caged she had almost lost the ability to use her legs. She had no strength in her legs. And so animal control easily caught her, and the shelter called me, as I'm on the list of farms who will take chickens found in Washington DC. And since then she has lived a good life at Razzberry Corner. She learned how to walk again, lost quite a bit of weight, but still is one big bird. Big Bonnie. No one messes with Big Bonnie in our flock. They probably talk about Big Bonnie behind her back - "did you hear that Bonnie was in prison before?" they probably say.
Anyway, Big Bonnie, the bird that doesn't let other chickens push her around, moved to the floor beside Lucy. The two of them always sat their with their heads together, like they were talking. We assumed because of Bonnie's weight she couldn't get up on the roost anymore. During the days Bonnie stayed near Lucy on the coop floor. Sometimes Bonnie would go outside and leave Lucy alone for a while, then she'd come back to sit beside sweet Lucy. And Lucy, the chicken who really didn't like other chickens, liked Bonnie.
Lucy waddled around inside the coop as best as she could. She liked to eat, even though she was very thin at the end. In the winter during the snowy days none of the chickens went outside, so everyone stayed inside, including Bonnie and Lucy. I'd feed them inside the coop. Sometimes it got crazy with chickens running around at feeding time, but I noticed Bonnie always protected Lucy from the other chickens. Bonnie would physically block the other birds with her large body, making it so they wouldn't knock Lucy over, as Lucy was unsteady.
We recently raised some new roosters from chicks, and they started running around mating with all the hens. Bonnie always moved in front of Lucy when those roosters came in the coop scoping out mates. It truly seemed like Bonnie was protecting Lucy. Lucy went along with Bonnie's actions, standing behind her, letting herself be protected. Sometimes when the chickens were all cooped up for days on end in the snowy months they would all have cabin fever, walking around, pacing the coop floor non-stop. Lucy would go into one of the bottom nestboxes that was on the floor for protection from all the crazy chickens. Then of course if a chicken sees another in a nestbox, they want to go in there and lay an egg in that nestbox, even if there's a dozen empty nestboxes. (It's that crazy chicken behavior where they all need to follow what the other is doing.) But Bonnie starting sitting her large body right in front of Lucy's nestbox, blocking Lucy in, keeping everyone else away from Lucy. Bonnie was so big she totally shielded the nestbox. When Lucy wanted out of the nestbox she just stood up and Bonnie got up and immediately moved out of her way. It was so neat to see that Big Bonnie had become Lucy's guardian, her protector. They always had their heads together, appearing as if they were talking. They were best friends.
|Big Bonnie is the big bird in the center|
My husband said it was because Bonnie was getting old, too. At this same time Bonnie stopped laying eggs. He said Bonnie probably couldn't get up on the roost anymore, she was too big and was probably loosing her balance, that's why she was on the floor all the time now.
So months went by like this. We knew Lucy wasn't going to live much longer, she was so frail. Lucy died Thur during the day while we were out at work. Her body lay on the coop floor near the waterer, with Bonnie sitting nearby, until we came home Thur night. Bonnie stayed on the floor in that same location Thur night. Another chicken, named Ruffles, slept down on the floor with Bonnie that night, with her head near Bonnie's. That was odd. Ruffles is a much younger bird and there's no reason she would be on the floor and not on the roost with the other chickens.
And then tonight, Friday night, Bonnie is back up on the roost sleeping with the other chickens.
It appears Bonnie was able to roost all along, but she chose to stay on the ground with Lucy all these months. Bonnie is one special bird. And Ruffles. And of course, Lucy was a special bird, my favorite chicken ever. My husband is speechless, now that he knows Bonnie can roost. He said she will probably start laying eggs again now, too.
We buried Lucy in the animal cemetery beside Tommy the cat and the other chickens that have died through the years. I will always miss sweet Lucy.
People that don't have chickens don't realize that chickens have personalities. They don't know what they're missing.