Life has it’s ups and downs and we’ve all had our fair share, some maybe more than others. Thanks to my parents I inherited a rather stoic approach to dealing with life’s challenges and whenever I’m hit square in the jaw I brush the dust from my shoulders, the gravel from my knees, flick back my hair, put my hat back on and keep moving, looking ahead as often as possible. Of course there’s always a private tear and quiet contemplation but I’m not one for outward emotion and seem to grieve better by lending support to others. It’s the way most of my 50 years have gone so far.
That was until our little hen Noodle died suddenly the other week, I was a blubbering mess! When Chris came up from his nightly routine of locking up the chickens I knew something was dreadfully wrong. With a slight quiver in his voice he announced that we’d be lucky if Noodle made it through to the morning.
What?? No way! I flew down to the Chook Nook and found Noodle where Chris had left her, on the straw bed below the chook’s sleeping quarters. She was curled up, her eyes almost completely shut, she was gone. Our nuggety little golden chooken Noodle was dead. I was devastated, couldn’t believe it. What happened? Why Noodle, so healthy and fit.
I did what I normally do, went back upstairs and continued on with my cooking, all the time wondering what on earth happened. Feeling an emotional bomb building inside, I couldn’t talk about her nor let my daughter Maddie even mention her name. Too hard. I would deal with Noodle quietly after dinner.
We took Noodle and her buddy Stickybeak on last year from a close friend who could no longer keep them. Heidi had them since young chicks so knew them well. They were two years when they moved into the Chook Nook and were still laying regularly.
Initially they settled in to their new surroundings beautifully but several months later Stickybeak went off the lay and became quite unwell. She’s never really recovered and we always thought she’d be the first to go.
We added two pullets to the clan earlier this year and once they’d got through clan initiation, Noodle signed them up as blood sisters. The three of them hung around together, talking and chattering, comparing egg sizes and sharing corn kernels and diced tomatoes. Noodle always at the helm showing them how important it was to eat as quickly as possible. She told me it’s a survival thing.
She kept pace with the younger hens laying an egg a day right through Autumn and Winter and had a voracious appetite to match. Looking back she’d gone off the lay only a couple of days before she died and at the time I simply put it down to her needing a break. She’d been on the nest a few times without producing but I’d seen them all do that from time to time. With Noodle never wanting to miss out and whether she was on the nest or not, she was the first one to be hot on your heels seeing what she could coax from your hand.
Perhaps she had an egg stuck but I’m not experienced enough with chooks to know how to know or how to deal with it even if it were the case. Chris had them out free ranging during the day and Noodle had been enjoying the freedom with the others as usual. Perhaps she’d eaten some toxic weed? Of course we’ll never know.
One thing Heidi had told me was the funny thing with birds is that you won’t know they’re sick until they’re almost dead. Ain’t that the truth!
We’ve already decided that’ll we’ll get a couple of new hens come Spring and once again go through the pains of introducing them to the clan. It’ll be interesting to see how Dusta and Pipsqueak handle the situation and let’s hope the memories of being hen pecked are still fresh in their minds.
It’s been a few weeks now since we lost our little friend. The dust has settled and I can once again talk about our funny little chook Noodle. Don’t ever underestimate the strength of companionship that our feathered friends not only have with each other but also with us, their carers. Not only were we devastated but I also witnessed Stickybeak’s mourning at the loss of her buddy. I now have an even greater respect for our little feathered friends.
Thanks Noodle for your memorable antics, for volunteering as spokeswoman for your clan and dutifully performing your morning vocal exercises to ensure we never slept in again and yes, to remind us that you were starving and hadn’t eaten for 12 hours. For recognising Pipsqueak’s talent and providing her with expertise through your vocal training. I’m sure you’d be happy knowing we now have a new alarm clock! For your acceptance and leadership with Dusta and Pipsqueak and showing them how to escape from the summer palace and eat herbs and vegetables at sonic speed. For your loyalty and friendship to your dear friend Stickybeak and of course for all those healthy, delicious, golden and sometimes signature eggs you provided for us.
I’m on my way to the snowfields tomorrow. The season is looking hot and my Elans are waxed and edged ready to hit the slopes. It’s always this time of year that I’d wished I’d paid a bit more attention to my quadriceps but I know it will be worth the pain.
I’ll be back in a week looking forward to the beginnings of Spring weather, new growth and harvest a plenty. As we continue along our sustainable journey and look at new ways of simplifying our lives, I can’t wait to bring you the next exciting story of my latest adventure in…….cheese making.