We had a disaster yesterday – all my fault – and I am grieving for my lovelies! Do you know how quiet a yard is without chooks? I can’t describe how the sound of their clucking and clacking fills a yard.

We have had chooks for about 3-4 years – Maria was the sole survivor of our initial purchase many moons ago, an Isa Brown, she was an amazing layer, a beautiful chook, I’d have invited her for dinner (not mistaken for inviting her to BE dinner) – and I have truly loved each of our charges. We mostly fed our chooks layer pallets but recently I have been feeding them up with additional soaked wheat and they loved it! They were growing so fat and healthy and we were getting 5 eggs from 6 chooks on a daily basis. Mr Rooster was so big and strong with deep reds and greens and iridescent black, huge spurs and a cock-a-doodle-do so loud and strong. He used to cock-a-doodle-do at me when I was hanging the clothes out and had not yet released them to free range around the house and paddocks. I loved them. Some were given (reluctantly) to us by Pete’s Aunt and these ones were very special as they were reared by Mother Hen’s Pete’s late Uncle reared (a bit convoluted but you get the picture don’t you?), they were all special to us, to me…

Anyway, on Sunday night I – yes, I must take the fall for this one as any other way would devastate me completely – I left the pen unlocked. UNLOCKED. Can you imagine?

On Monday morning the kids and I were off to our very first local birthday party – I knitted some GREAT mittens about which I will blog tomorrow – I was running around looking for paper to wrap my precious work of art with and headed for the shed (so much stuff is still there) and that’s when I say it…… Can you imagine?

There just outside the pen were feathers, LOTS of feathers…. you know what I felt like doing? Howling! I raced? maybe I slowly walked, I can’t remember but I do remember Sophie just behind me repeating over and over again “Mummy, what you doing?” I walked up and stared down at the mess – the beautiful and daunting mess of soft downy feathers all over the ground. Mr Rooster. Oh, I felt like howling! Mr Rooster. To the left of Mr Rooster’s feathery remainder was what looked like Ange’s under feathers. White with pale brown, almost honey coloured tips, soft, soft feathers trailing off between the skeletons of my in-laws eggplants from last season. Ange. Gone. I wandered around the sheds and old tobacco kilns and found one of my friends – they were my friends and my providers for when you have chooks you have riches (fertiliser, eggs, waste disposal systems, noise, a focus for vegetable garden failures (most often not their fault but how could it be mine?, a joy and a frustration) – lying without a head, I dispassionately picked her up by those cold, cold legs and carried her back to the front garden with Sophie saying over and over again, “What you doing Mummy?”.

I picked up the shovel and dug a hole in the cold, wet earth and with tears stinging my eyes I dug a solitary hole – 6 chooks and 1 rooster and all I had left was a heap of beautiful feathers and a headless chook – and tossed the carcass in. “What you doing Mummy?” “The chooks are dead” is my dispassionate reply, “DEAD”. Maybe I am too harsh to speak in such a way to a 2 year old but she got the picture and when I later told her to tell Daddy about the chooks she raise both her hands as if to say “I don’t know” and said “Chooks are dead Daddy”. I didn’t cry – I wanted to – and I wish I had but I got on with the Show that is life and we went to the birthday party and had a lovely time. I told them of my loss and they all had chook/fox stories to share. They didn’t understand (but of course they did!).

We came home and Pete was here to “clean up” the mess (I think I may have been a bit melodramatic about is all on the phone), the kids went to bed. I looked at yesterdays eggs I had collected and thought about it, thought about them. Something Pete had said stuck in my mind. So sad to have lost Maria. Maria. Maybe one of these eggs where hers? Maybe if I became Mother Hen I redeem myself, make a mends. Maybe. I’m just a girl but we can be more than never people!

Google. Find this site and race out and acquire these any way you can (local supermarket and Op shop best choices)

and do this:

Then, get the eggs and hope like hell it works! Count 21 days from now and maybe, just maybe with a less than 3o% chance, we will have something to talk about. Wish me luck!