Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically, which we share with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I work as an environmental educator, lecturer, writer and Forest School leader at Moors Wood . I am a Master Composter and have spent the last 11 years as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council. I offer talks and run workshops and events where we talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. We also make crafts and have fun.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun. To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

RIP Yarrow Hen


RIP Yarrow Hen, who died yesterday evening. She had a good life, well lived. With us she had had 18 months of freedom, after her 18 months in the cruel battery cages.

As those of you who have followed my blog since 2012 will know,  Yarrow was a very special girl; even amongst hens who are ALL special to us, she was a little star. I  am very sad to lose her and miss her hugely, already.

She had been "winding down" for a few months and I am so glad she had a really good last day in the sun; sitting on my lap and being cuddled and told how much I loved her; sitting on the ground in the sunshine soaking up the rays; being cuddled by her flock who all came and collapsed all around her as only hens can do. 

Despite all this, and despite having a normal morning yesterday, by  the afternoon Yarrow was obviously suffering  (not able to walk around, deep purple coloured comb, gasping, not able to eat even the treat of unlimited mealworms). 

I can normally dispatch chickens who are in distress or injured but  this time I found myself unable to kill my pet hen Yarrow, for which I feel ashamed (as I should have been able to help her when she was suffering, but could not). So, I quickly took Yarrow down to Mike our Vet, who agreed her time had come, due to a  combination of failing heart/old age, and who ended her suffering kindly and quickly.

Mike, who as a newly qualified Vet helped Yarrow to recover from a broken leg during his first few weeks at our local practice, has been such a help over the last 18 months.  With all the issues the ex battery hens in my little flock have had, especially Yarrow, he has been such a help, for which  I thank him so much. And I especially thank him for his kindness and understanding as to why I was crying over the death of what many people might dismiss as "just a hen". He was lovely, as are all the staff at our local Veterinary  Surgery. We are very lucky with them.

We buried Yarrow hen  in the wood today, in the place where many other feathery friends are also buried. She liked to furtle around in the wood and it seems a good place for her remains to be buried. I heard my first Skylark of 2013 as we were filling in the hole. Appropriate, I felt.

Fly high, little Yarrow hen and know you are missed and were very loved indeed.

19 comments:

  1. So sorry for the loss of your precious hen. I know there are certain animals that tend to touch our hearts the deepest, and those are the hardest to bid farewell to. At least she lived half her life with dignity and in freedom!

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  2. A lovely post for a dearly loved pet. You must remember that you gave her a wonderful life she would have thought it absolute heaven after being caged before. I think you are wonderful to give her so much love and take her to the vets to have a peaceful end. I'm so sorry for your loss and it doesn't matter what sort of animal it is, it always hurts like anything when they go.
    You should be very proud of yourself, pity there are not more like you around.
    Much love
    FIB. Xxx

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    1. Thanks you. I love all my hens, but yes the ex batts are always a little more precious, due to their hard early life I think.

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  3. So sorry to hear that you have lost your beloved Yarrow hen, she has had a great life with you. Only being loved and taken care of by special folks that care can ever diminish the memory of being in those terrible cages for the first half of their lives.

    That you gave her freedom, love and the pleasure of company and the sun on her weary back is something you can be proud of.

    Now she's up in that great chickeny place in the sky where her soul flies free with the Skylarks.

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    1. She lasted a week longer than I thought, to be honest - I thought she was dying about the same time your Gorgeous Girl died. I think the sunshine kept her going.

      Yes, ex caged hens deserve the very best we can offerthem, to try and make up for the cruelty they endured.

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  4. I SO know how you feel. I am attached to all my hens, but occasionally one will get a special place in my heart. Usually because they have suffered and/or had difficult lives- ex bats or a hen rescued from someone who thinks they can keep hens in little rabbit hutches in their back garden "a pet for the children".
    I guess you'll be visiting her resting place for a quiet moment now and then.
    Gill

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    1. I think so Gill, it is a place in the wood where a lot of pets are burried and it is particularly lovely at the moment, with cowslips and bluebells flowering.

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  5. So sorry to hear about Yarrow, she will be very much missed. It's a comfort knowing that she had a happy last day, and you were able to say goodbye.
    Hazel

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    1. Thanks, Hazel - you know what it is like, I know :-( They wrap themselves around our hearts so much, don't they.

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  6. I am so sorry for your loss. People who do not know and love hens have no idea of the characters they possess and how much they are loved. I have never been able to kill an animal and over the years have taken a whole posse of chickens down to our vets for one thing or another. My very last hen lived to 14 years old and was lonely and stopped eating, so we moved her into a box in our bathroom, which is the warmest room in the house. She never was shut in her box, just sat there and chatted to whoever came in the bathroom and I carried her out every morning and she brought herself down to the kitchen door every evening to be carried back upstairs. I still miss her after five years. I am glad both you and Yarrow had your time together, short though it was.

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    1. I understand about taking them to the Vets - I am "the chicken lady" when I go to my Vets! Yes, Yarrow taught me a great deal about how to look after poorly hens - amd a lot about love, as well.

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  7. It sounds as if your lovely Yarrow had the kind of wonderful last day any living creature could wish for - the sun on her back, being held and told that she was loved, and being comforted by fellow creatures. A fitting end to the happy life you gave her when you rescued her. Thinking of you. x

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    1. I agree Scarlet - I hope when it is my time to die I have the same sort of last day.

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  8. We had the same thing with our blue wyandotte Effel Dookark. She is burried under our mulberry tree where she liked to fossick. Losing a pet hen is hard and you did the right thing to take her to the vet rather than be the person that killed her as the last thing that she knew. It IS different when it's a pet :) I love that you buried her in the woods where she loved to fossick.

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    1. We always bury them in the wood - they love it so much, even though it would be safer for them if we kept them penned in( Fox attacks)

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  9. Hi,

    You had replied but I hadn't checked and I wanted to give you a special mention as I'm a real animal lover too.

    Have a good weekend,
    FIB. X

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Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.

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