Tuesday, 24 April 2012

good bye Beep Beep

Beep Beep is dead.
It all came as quite a shock. One minute he was happily having a little dust bath and the next minute he was the victim of a viscious attack by his fellow chickens.
About a week earlier I decided that Beep Beep needed to go and live with his own kind as I was having visions of scrubbing chicken poo off the carpet for years to come! He was bigger and eating well on his own, and seemed strong enough to join the world of chickens where he belonged. So like a calculating and cold hearted farmer I set about making the arrangements for my relocation programme. First, the nasty hen that kept chasing and pecking Beep Beep and who was losing feathers and getting quite old, must go. I ordered her into the pot. Hariet did it. I admit I tasted it and she was as tough as nails...
Then with a special red light Charles and I snuck into the hen house after dark and slipped Beep Beep under one of the sleepy moms. She willingly and literally took him under her wing and with a final and content 'beep beep" our little chicken had flown the nest. I patted myself on the back for a job well done.
The next morning he seemed slightly shy and timid around his bigger brothers and sisters but he got in the mix and had his share of breakfast and seemed quite chuffed with himself. When he won a literal tug รณ war with another chick who had tried to take his worm, we believed he was a fighter and would survive against all odds. Over the next few days it seemed obvious though that he wasn't going to join everyone in their daily explorations for worms and instead kept to himself in the hen house. But he seemed happy and was served every morning with a plate of worms of his own. All seemed fine and well. Or so we thought.
Then one late afternoon Anna came running into the kitchen, "Mom," she said in quiet shock, then dissolving into tears she told me that Beep Beep had been "pecked and pecked and pecked!" we ran to the hen house and there he was lying on the straw where Anna had placed him, gasping for air. I picked him up and took him to the house but it was too late he died in my hands. Anna was beside herself. Charley said with stoic maturity and insight: "Dont worry Anna, its only his fluffy body that's gone, he's still with us."
Charles immediately dug a grave and prepared a little tombstone: "Here sleeps Beep" it says. We sang "Baa Baa Black sheep" and "Twinkle, twinkle little star" before covering him up and throwing flowers. Anna stood by his graveside and wept, great heaving sobs.
Later in the bath she told me the whole story. She had taken him out to scratch on the grass and the next thing he was chased by the two red hens and scratched and pecked repeatedly. Anna came to his rescue but clearly it was too late.
Poor little girl, such trauma to witness and her first big loss of a life she loved. Ofcourse I wallowed in my fair share of guilt...if only I had kept him in the house...
May you rest in peace Beep Beep - you brought happiness to our home in your short and precious life.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Beep Beep

Upon returning from our upcountry trip I was presented with an unexpected gift - a new baby! A tiny, fluffy, yellow, cheeping baby. Who, regardles of his size or species, is almost as demanding as any human baby.
He was a little slow coming into the world and by the time his egg finally hatched his mothers (all three of them) had already considered their brood a good delivery of seven babies and had moved off to begin soil scratching lessons. There had been a slight confusion over whose eggs were whose so in the end we let three hens sit on all the eggs together and when they hatched the lucky babies had more than their fair share of maternal guidence - except ofcouse for Beep Beep, who was all but forgotten and left behind.
So when it looked like no bells were going to begin ringing in any of the three mum's heads that this extra little yellow fluff ball also belonged to them, my mother-in-law, who can also fuss like a good maternal hen - took Beep Beep under her wing, until our return home.
Now my morning routine includes porridge for Beep Beep too, plus two or three fresh, live earthworms - thankfully we have a worm farm for this requirement. My crazy hour bedtime routine has now become somewhat pressurised as I race from one chore to the next so that I can get to warming Beep Beep's hotwater bottle and putting him to bed. And boy does he chase me along if I'm a little tardy at this! Making supper is a little hair raising too as I have to avoid stepping on the mini procession that follows me around the kitchen: first Beep Beep, then Mully, the border collie and Jack the cat, who sniff and follow the baby wherever he goes. But luckily, by some telepathic human-to-animal communication no one has tried to eat our new baby.
Ofcourse the bonus of Beep Beep is the constant entertainment he provides the girls. Although I do have to put a stop to the "flying"and "sitting" lessons that Anna regularly tries to dish out.
We love Beep Beep and his beeping, but I must admit that I am becoming a little concerned as his toilet time increases daily. And Lord knows where he is planning to live once he has "flown the nest" or whether he will be a he or a she!
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