Forgive me if this post seems rather long, but it has been a terrible year and I feel the need to express my feelings.
Twenty-seventeen saw a significant milestone in our lives. Ten years ago, on August Bank Holiday Weekend 2007, we spent the weekend building a chicken house and small run. We had never built a coop before, and so we followed instructions found on the Internet. We had also never kept chickens before, in fact neither of us had had a pet since we were children. Rather a strange hobby for two middle-aged people to be embarking upon. Nevertheless, I had read all the advice in magazines and on the internet chicken sites, talked at length to a hen-keeping colleague at work, and I was now ready to give it a go. Hetty, Betty and Letty entered our lives, and nothing has been the same since.
Today, 2nd September 2017, marks our ten year anniversary of the joy, rapture, despair and heartache that is chicken keeping. Joy and rapture, because they are such wonderful, engaging, joyous creatures, interested in everything (try keeping them out of the kitchen if you inadvertently leave the door open!), willing to eat anything (Millie caught a small shrew this autumn and despatched it with vigorous efficiency), smart (they have been shown to apply deductive reasoning, and they certainly recognise and remember), and surprisingly caring of each other even if they do have a reputation for hierarchical organisation and enforcement (the pecking order). Despair and heartache because of the many illnesses that can befall a chicken, how very fragile they can seem, and how much they touch our hearts during their brief lives.
Today, at the end of our momentous year, I am sad at our losses but also so thankful that we took that step into the unknown ten years ago, because I would not have missed knowing and loving these chooks for any other experience you could name.