The loss of a star

This week has been difficult. We’ve lost the last of our original Orpingtons and she’s left a little ginger hole in our lives.

Our chickens are livestock as we are a smallholding/homestead but as I explained to one person this week on social media the difference between how we treat pets and our livestock is simply how long they stay with us. Pets stay until the end of their natural days. Livestock are either breeding stock or are sold on but do not live out their days with us. Essentially we care for them in the same way.

Gannet remained with us for the whole of her natural life so we did regard her as a pet but she earned it. Let me give you some of her history.

Eight years ago we had hybrid egg layers. We decided to give Orpingtons a try as they are the perfect chicken for self-sufficient small-holders. They are great egg-layers, produce great meat and raise the next generation of chickens for you as they are renowned for being broody.

We bought in 7 young Buff Orpingtons. 5 were 10 weeks old and 2 were just 7 weeks old. Gannet was part of this group.

To begin with Gannet really concerned us. She didn’t care one jot about what was going on with the rest of the flock. She didn’t take any notice of the pecking order and was always foraging on her own in the field.

We needn’t have worried. Gannet was the first to brood. Eight years ago this little chicken taught us everything the books did not tell us about hatching and raising chickens with a broody hen.

In 2015 at the age of 1, she hatched and raised her first clutch

Her first clutch was mainly named by Hugh and ironic names ensued…Sage & Onion, Tandoori etc. I have to admit I wasn’t much better as I named two of them Beavis and Butthead (sorry MTV!).

Every year until 2019 Gannet hatched at least 1 if not 2 clutches of chicks each year.

She was exceptionally calm.

She was exceptionally patient.

She allowed us to health check her and her chicks without objection. This taught her chicks we were not a threat.

Gannet’s chicks were introduced to humans as Head of Flock at an early age. It mean that her offspring were better acclimatised to humans and we have many happy buyers who would attest to that.

This week, at the ripe old age of 8 we lost our original Buff Orpington.

We lost our Alpha Chicken.

We lost a cherished character within our family. She had a distictive run similar to a bouncing ball and we will miss it.

For anyone who thinks that livestock are not cherished, loved or cared for I hope that Gannet’s life proves them wrong. I’m just glad that she is immortalised on many of our YouTube videos. Rest peacefully Gannet.

8 thoughts on “The loss of a star

  1. Fiona and Hugh, please accept my condolences, Gannet was a wonderfully entertaining ambassador for the Buff Orpingtons and chickens and smallholding in general.
    I believe that many non farming / rearing think that we don’t get upset when we livestock leave us for whatever reason, you’re animal husbandry is outstanding and show what it is to live the country life.
    Take care and stay safe

    1. Thank you Mike. Your message is very much appreciated. Gannet was very special to us. She was the first hen to brood for us and we would not have the chickens we have today without her.

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