As the chicken flock dwindled it became evident that not only was my heart not in it anymore but the housing for the chickens was woefully inadequate. Whilst the Portuguese seem quite happy to leave their foul in concrete bunkers, and to an extent it works for them, they don’t lose birds to predators etc. I was not happy about keeping birds like that, but given that other things have taken priority (like building a house for us) I was just putting up with it and making the best of a bad situation. A few months ago we had three chickens left, two from an original batch of 5 that the broody hen hatched and one inherited from a friend, three was good, we had eggs, they had space, it was manageable. Then one got sick and died, then another, which left me with one.
She was 4 and didn’t lay anymore but seemed happy enough, so I got her a mate. Things were ok for a while and then the pecking started. At first it was mild, letting them out sorted it for a bit, then as the winter months and freezing temperatures continued the pecking got worse. Without the facilities to isolate them from each other I had to let them try and sort it out between themselves, they didn’t.
The poor 4 year old chicken was not defending herself and was constantly bleeding, the young chicken had a got a taste for blood and wasn’t going to stop so, with my imminent departure from here looming and knowing that husband wouldn’t have the time to let them out and get them back at the end of the day, I had to make a decision. We put the older one out of her misery.
It was a sad moment but she’d had a good life and it felt that it was the right thing to do. 5 weeks later and I was back, asking people to take the remaining chicken in, hoping that she had sated her blood lust and wouldn’t create havoc in the next home, but no-one wanted her. So I was letting her out everyday when I was on the farm and she would follow me or woody everywhere, I’d grown mildly fond of her, still couldn’t forgive her for what she had done, but our routine was working.
Then something terrible happened. Some friends came to visit with their dogs and whilst they were chatting in our house one of their dogs had discovered the chicken and although she was locked in her house their naughty dog managed to enter the other side of the coop where the generator lives, found a weak point in the partitioning fence, broke it down and killed the chicken.
So that was that, I think that maybe that was her karma, it’s not a nice way to go however and this is the first time since we have been here that we haven’t had any chickens, the first time, upon arrival at the farm that we are not greeted with the excited sounds of hens………