Framed at Last – ‘Our Auds’

a story and a collage sparked this post

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I finally bought a frame for the little collage of Audrey that C made last year. The picture is SO Audrey, I just love it. It was hard to get a decent photo in situ, so please try  to see past the reflections to find her in the bottom left cornerIMG_9973

Yes, Audrey was a chicken. We lost her in August 2015

You might think that ‘a chicken is a chicken is a chicken’, but ‘our Auds’ was a special kind of gal

We had ten chickens in 2013, various breeds, but Audrey and Gertrude were the only legbars. They could not have been more different, both physically and characteristically. Auds was top girl of the flock from the beginning. Not in a bullying kind of way, but in an ‘I’ll take care of this’ sort of way, and Gerts was her hench-chicken

Yet, whereas Gertie has grown to be tall, upright and necky, with a signature rockabilly quiff, Audrey was always very low-built and purposeful, and, I thought, looked a little like Margaret Thatcher. Her disapproving mannerisms and discourse somehow exaggerated this resemblance

Her instinct to roost was all-powerful and she would stay out on top of the coop in any weather, so Baz would go out and put her to bed at night. Sometimes some of the others would join her, but this was intermittent, whereas she was constant. When we were away our lovely neighbour Sue would ‘tuck Audrey in’ for us

Audrey first got sick in the New Year of 2014. The vet said she was beautiful but basically inferred that she was a bit of a runt really. An x-ray showed a growth, possibly a tumour, in her stomach and a serious heart murmur was diagnosed. Realistically there was nothing much they could do, so she was given antibiotics and came home with a short life expectancy. It was a shock. We set up camp for her in the living room so that she could keep warm and we could administer her meds. That first evening as the sun started to sink she caught us all offguard by flapping out of her enclosure and up onto the back of a chair. She just wanted to roost – even indoors!

She would sit calmly on our laps, watching telly and chattering to us – always a very vocal chicken – and she came to work with me for a few days, where we set up a holding pen for her in my office, but she sat on my lap much of the time. You see, we’d never had a sick chicken at that stage and we just could not imagine losing her – or any of them. I remember that we found ‘the Secret Life of Chickens’ online for her and she watched it with intense interest on a laptop

When she was boxed-up in the car and we reached about a mile from home, she would make very urgent and specific calls, as if she had reached the distance where she regained contact with her flock. We noticed this near the same spot on outward journeys as well. After a few days we took her out to visit the other girls, where Tilly, a thug strong and fearless pirate of a Blacktail (also the complete opposite in character to her own sibling, the sweet-natured Fudge, and no stranger to being disciplined with the water pistol) had established her dominance. Audrey was weak and tiny, but she feathered and flustered herself up to look bigger, and she demanded that Tilly back off. And she did. Auds was back in charge and wanted to be with the flock, so she went back out to the coop that day, though she took a few days off roosting. It’s a very high coop to get onto but we put a small table in the corner of the run to break the climb and it wasn’t long before she was back on top each night

And that became the marker for her health. If she couldn’t get up to roost we would keep a closer eye on her, but she was fully aware of this and was an accomplished actress – chickens are very resourceful – and Baz continued to put her to bed every night so she wouldn’t get cold

She had further illness in 2014, and we took her to the vet several times but she was so plucky and determined that putting her to sleep was never an option. In the meantime we lost two other chickens, brave little Babs on Remembrance Day after a stroke, and Coco after a badly broken leg that wouldn’t heal

In early spring 2015 Audrey became terribly sick and the huge doses of antibiotics seemed to be doing as much harm as good. She had to come indoors and by the Friday morning after the last dose of meds she was no more than a handful of feathers in the corner of the travel cot. Baz said a final goodbye to her before leaving for work and I stayed home to deal with the inevitable. I put the telly on for her and kept chatting to her as I loaded the dishwasher, then turned around to see her waddle over to the water bowl for a good drink before eating some grit, and then some treats. Incredibly, Auds was back in the room

So we accepted that she was ‘different’ and allowed her to live the life she loved – outside, telling other chickens what to do. There was never any trouble, no-one ever picked on her like people say they will, and Gertie was always watching her back. At the age of two and a half, while we were on a weekend away, Sue was herding them back into their run when Auds had a little fit and was gone. When I saw Sue’s number come up on my phone we all knew what was coming, and she was as devastated as we were

So, yes, Audrey was more than a little bit special to us, as plucky a character as can be. If you are still reading this, I thank you for your time. Even I think that writing an obituary for a chicken is a bit mad and hugely indulgent, but it was the timing that caused it. You see, I am enjoying a lovely summer-sky story about a character named Audrey on Our French Oasis, and then I put the picture up last night. Things, they say, come in threes, so this post makes a trilogy
Audreynotwell.jpg‘Our Auds’ during a rest spell indoors. See the resemblance to MT? It’s uncanny

 

 

 

 

Author: poshbirdy

Art deco/ art nouveau maniac enjoying a deep and meaningful relationship with alcohol

15 thoughts on “Framed at Last – ‘Our Auds’”

  1. I had a little white chicken that had a wild side. She would roost in the trees and only on the coldest of nights (she knew this somehow) she would enter the chicken house to sleep. Some of our little feathered friends do make a big mark on our hearts; don’t they? Miss Dixie was about seven when she passed (due to unnatural causes) and I wrote an obituary for her as well. I don’t find this post odd at all.
    RIP, Audrey.

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  2. Writing an obituary for a chicken is not mad at all. She was your family, your child, a part of you! I found comfort in reading this post today, and I will be honest with you, I do have tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely post. Thank you. We have chickens (and ducks) and I thoroughly get how important they become in your life, particularly, dare I say it, the ‘plucky’ ones. Our Maggie (duck, and funny enough named after Margaret Thatcher, but for personality reasons) has a particularly special place in our hearts.

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  4. She sounds like a real character. When we were still in the U.K. I did take chickens to the vet but, here, I haven’t had the courage. I do feel that, if you have chickens, you should probably know how to euthanize them yourself and, if I thought I knew what I was doing, and could do it quickly, effectively and humanely, I might be able to manage it. But I don’t! When our cockerel looked as if he might keel over – and did on several occasions, but got back up again – I Googled lots of humane ways to despatch him. Most of the advice was from the States and included shooting, gassing with a mixture of bicarb of soda and vinegar and putting him in a sealed rubber bin and attaching it to an exhaust pipe. I let him be. That was a couple of years ago and he’s still strutting around and being the bane of the neighbours’ life by crowing the place down and he’s nine years old now!
    R.I.P. Aud and she really did look like Maggie – now wonder the others did her bidding 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great obituary, and I can quite see why you wrote it and also how you felt about her. We took our first sick chicken to the vet about a year ago, in rural France this was considered the most bizarre thing imagineable, in fact I think everyone is still laughing at the English who took their chicken to the vet! But we have been back since, I just laugh with them and shrug it off! We have become quite expert at administering medicine for respiratory viruses. But we love our chickens and like yours they all have names! Thank you so much for sharing my story – Audrey, so happy you are enjoying it! Have a great weekend, Susan x

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