Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ruby


Ruby, one of our senior under-gardeners passed away this morning. You may remember that I wrote about Tarragon the Lavender Araucana cockerel's bullying of Ruby; for the past couple of months Ruby lived in her retirement bungalow (aka rabbit hutch) in our porch. She had access to the courtyard outside my studio's office window and to keep her company, Phoebe – one of the other senior hens, moved in with her.

It isn't unusual for a cockerel, or even a senior ranking hen, to ruthlessly bully another bird, but there is often method in their madness, and I suspected that Tarragon had the interests of his flock at heart and that Ruby wasn't a healthy hen. She hasn't laid eggs since October last year, in fact most of Ruby's eggs were a little strange . . . rough shelled, elongated and sometimes bent, once she laid a conjoined double egg with a twisted middle! Her diet was always verging on carnivorous, she loved catching and eating frogs, toads and snails. She learned to ambush the cats and steal the mice they had caught and often sneaked into the kitchen to eat the cat food. In fact Iam's cat biscuits were the only thing she would eat in her final weeks. Hens self medicate if there is a nutritional imbalance due to illness – inside Ruby something wasn't right.

Over the weeks Ruby put on weight but her breast bone stuck out and she was wasting away. She waddled like a duck and spent time just sitting still. One day I found her under a bush cold and almost lifeless – but after a day or so she was perkier. I suspected egg peritonitis, a very serious condition which is difficult to treat. Ruby was very, very poorly this week and we had to make a very difficult decision . . . but we knew it was the right one. So RIP Ruby, in the shade of an apple tree and under a carpet of primroses.

25 comments:

  1. Oh dear! Celia, I do know how difficult these situations can be.But you did your best for her and, jeepers! what a good life she had.

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  2. Oh how sad, but you had no choice and it sounds as she had a lovely life with you.

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  3. Beautiful photographic tribute to Ruby.

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  4. Well done for putting poor Ruby's feelings before yours - it must have been a very very hard decision to make :-(

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  5. Definitely sounds like EYP, something I had plenty of experience with with my ex-batties. So sorry to hear about her but in the end, I guess knowing that she had a good life definitely helps, and a peaceful last few weeks. If only every hen was treated as well as yours. RIP Ruby xx

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  6. Oh how sad, poor Ruby. But you did your best for her and I am sure she did not need to live on in pain.
    Love
    Lyn
    xxx

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  7. Celia, I'll add my wishes for a RIP for Ruby. From a city point of view, there is something pretty wonderful about having a particular hen's life recognized.

    Bet that all your chickens have lots of attention and live quite well.

    They know that they figure prominently in your artwork, after all!

    xo

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  8. RIP Ruby :( :( Poor thing doesn't sound like she has been well at all. I'm sorry Celia - you must have been sad to see her go. What a lovely place to bury her though. I often wonder how long our girls will be with us - Marjie is 4 now, and I don't know how long chooks live, I've heard up to 13 so I guess we could have them for a while yet. Sorry to hear your news today but sounds like it was for the best x

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  9. Poor Ruby. We have a Ruby too. Don't they tie themselves in your heartstrings?

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  10. It's so sad to hear of Ruby. She will go to hen heaven. x

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  11. Poor Ruby... and poor you! I know from experience how attached you can become to chickens. I'm certain she had a wonderful life in your garden.

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  12. So sad. At least she has a restful last few days in the bungalow

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  13. So sorry to hear about Ruby. It's an awful decision to make but you did all you could to give her every possible chance. We had to make a similar decision with one of our hens not so long ago but we knew it was the right thing to do.

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  14. a necessary sadness! she had a wonderful life & peaceful passing, giving many stories to share in the process.

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  15. Oh how sad for you and Ruby. You'll have happy memories to recall her though and that gorgeous picture at the start of your post.

    Hugs.

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  16. And poor you-it is always a hard decisionto make at the end of life that has touched ours.

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  17. So sorry to hear about Ruby - not a good year for our animals is it? I lost two lovely blue laced Dottes when I first started with a similar sounding thing, and I suspected fatty liver disease. Nothing much you can do except show them a final kindness, although it's the hardest thing at the time. I hope Phoebe doesn't miss her too much!
    Wendy xx

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  18. Oh Celia, I am sorry. But what a lucky hen to have spent so much time being looked after by you!

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  19. Oh how sad Celia - poor Ruby. But what a good life she had - and you made the only decision possible. Wonderful tribute to her in words and in the beautiful photo.
    May she rest in peace under the apple tree.

    Jeanne
    x

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  20. Aaawww, poor Ruby, this is such a sad little story, poor poor Ruby. You took good care of her, she was fortunate to have such kind owners. But your hens are like family aren't they, so I wouldn't expect any less. You must be grieving, so here's a big virtual hug. Love Vanessa xxx

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  21. Thank you for you kind words. I miss her funny quirky ways and rich red feathers. But Ruby had a wonderful life and was almost 4 years old - which for a hybrid hen is a fine age.

    Celia
    xxx

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  22. We had to make the same decision this week about one of our Bluebell Girls - same thing, by the sound of it, although she was younger at only 3 years. Your Ruby must have been lovely.

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  23. I'm just catching up with your blog and was so sad to read this.

    Big hugs from both of us.

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