Yellow Chicken House

Chicken Keeping – The good, the bad and the egg-ly!

‘My Human and I’ – a poem for chicken-keepers who have loved and lost a feathered friend

Pet chicken having a cuddle

Saying Goodbye to Shelley the Chicken

Last year, I said goodbye to a much-loved chicken of mine called Shelley Shufflebottom. She suffered with Egg Yolk Peritonitis which unfortunately did not respond to treatment despite my best efforts. I felt a special bond with Shelley who was enormously tame, affectionate and who genuinely seemed to adore being close to me.

 

Chicken in the bath

 

She was gentle, inquisitive and gave me endless hours of entertainment with her quirky personality. She loved being given bubble baths and especially blow dries during which she would fall asleep as the warm air ruffled her feathers.

 

 

 

Her playful nature has given me endless inspiration for my greeting card designs and chicken art. A quick glance at some of my illustrations featuring her gives an insight into the kind of hen she was.

 

Cute chicken card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, I have struggled to express my sadness at her passing away through the medium of illustration and have pondered for some time on how to pay tribute to this special girl. I finally settled on the idea of writing a poem, which came to me in the middle of the night seemingly at random. I was lying in bed unable to sleep about a week ago, thinking of all the wonderful chicken-loving people I have connected with and spoken to since bringing chickens into my life and of how many times I have realised that others too experience grief at the loss of their chickens…then it came to me. The words just fell out of my head and I used the notes app on my iPhone to jot them down before I fell asleep.

I wrote the poem from Shelley’s perspective as I like to think she had some understanding of my struggle to help her. To put this struggle into context, I should point out that I noticed she was ill on the morning I was moving house and re-locating from Aberystwyth to Norwich. I felt the build up of fluid in her abdomen as I lifted her into her travel box in preparation for a 300 mile journey. When we arrived in Norwich (after a gruelling 8-hour drive), I found a vet that specialised in ‘exotic’ animals and took her there the following day. I should say at this point that the vet I used was fantastic and so understanding of the importance of chickens (All Creatures Healthcare). At no point did I feel like Shelley was being treated as ‘just a chicken’, but instead as a loved pet. These vet visits would turn out to be a weekly occurrence for over a month. Her abdomen was drained of the fluid that was weighing her fragile body down and she was put on antibiotics which were administered by myself or Martin twice a day. Her dosage was increased and draining repeated as she showed no signs of recovery.

She grew weaker and weaker and eventually stopped walking, preferring instead to sit in her house or if she could muster the strength, stagger out into the sun and lay down in its warmth. My other hen Speckledy, who had previously faced a lot of bullying from her companion, would tentatively go over to Shelley during these rare moments in the sunshine and would sit down beside her. One day, I actually came out to find them sitting together with Speckledy sleeping with her head against Shelley’s back. I so wish I had taken a photograph of that moment.

I would go out every evening and lift Shelley out of the nest, placing her on my lap and we would sit for an hour or two enjoying the fading sunlight. She would snuggle into me and close her eyes as I stroked her wings and rubbed the side of her head, which for some reason she loved.

I’m unsure of why chickens evoke such strong emotions in me or why I feel such an affinity to them but what I do know is that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

When someone buys a greeting card from me with artwork which has been inspired by Shelley, I am so grateful that she lives on by bringing a smile to others just as she did to me. I hope the following poem I have written will help to illuminate to others how deeply our lives can be touched by chickens and will resonate with those who have had to go through the experience of losing a feathered friend.

 

 

My Human & I

 

When you became my human, there’s no way I could have known,

The happiness and love I would come to feel in my new home.

I’m not sure if all my chicken-friends experience that same fate,

But one thing’s for sure, I won’t end up on a plate.

You stumble out of bed each morning to let me out at dawn,

You let me free-range on what was once a tidy lawn.

When I make my water muddy, you roll your eyes and clean it,

You tell me I’m a messy girl but you smile so I know you don’t mean it.

You find me so funny and I always make you laugh,

I know the way I run must look a little daft!

You’ve given me a house that keeps me comfy in all weathers,

You’ve given me the chance to feel the sun upon my feathers.

But all good things must end, although I’d love us to stay together,

If love was an elixir, then maybe I would have lived forever.

When it became clear that my health was in decline,

You did everything you could, but it was just my time.

You took me to the vet and you talked about my pain,

They told you it would do no good to put me through treatment again.

You knew those words were coming and a tear rolled down your cheek,

I lay on the table watching you, my body exhausted and weak.

You stroked my feathers gently and I leaned against your hand,

You whispered that you wished I was able to understand,

And how hard it had been to make that final choice,

Your hand continued stroking me and there was a tremble in your voice.

I closed my eyes for the last time and you stood tearfully nearby,

The last thing I heard was you saying goodbye.

I’ve gone to that place now, where the sun always shines.

Don’t cry for me my human, for I am flying high.

By Sarah Brookes

RIP Shelley Shufflebottom

 

 

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Yellow Chicken House featured in Your Chickens Magazine ‘Poultry People’

‘Poultry People’ in Your Chickens Magazine

Your Chickens Magazine

Your Chickens Magazine

Earlier this year, I was delighted to be asked by Jeremy Hobson to be involved in the February edition of the popular Your Chickens magazine as part of the Poultry People feature.

I was able to tell the story of how keeping chickens inspired me to unlock my creativity and design products that other chicken-lovers would enjoy. My range started out with a handful of greeting cards featuring chicken illustrations and has grown steadily to include hand-printed mugs, key rings, money boxes prints and more! By popular demand, my range has diversified with a number of country and rural-influenced designs but I rarely stray far from my original core theme.

Keeping chickens also introduced me to a large community of chicken-loving people through social media who find chickens just as relaxing and inspiring as I do. If chickens have inspired you to start a business or helped you to overcome a business obstacle, please comment and let me know! I love to connect with other hen-thusiasts!

 

If you missed the article, not to worry! It’s right here.

Poultry People Your Chickens

Leave a comment »

2-Day Spring Craft Fair in Norwich!

I’m very excited to be taking part in the 2-day Spring Craft Fair in Norwich. The event will take place

Ex-Battery Hen, chicken keeping, chickens in the garden, pet chickens

Ex-Battery Hen Inspired Illustration

on 31st March to 1st April and will be held at The Forum, 2 Millennium Plain, Norwich, Norfolk.

I will be showcasing a new range of greeting cards featuring whimsical illustrations inspired by ex-battery hens as well as my full, eclectic range of existing cards and products.

The Forum is an amazing venue right in the heart of the city of Norwich. There will be a wonderful and exciting selection of local Craft Traders and Artists all under one roof, showcasing the very best of East Anglia’s handmade craft and gift market.

For further details of the event, visit https://moderncountrycrafts.co.uk/craft-fair/the-forum-norwich-march-31st-2017/

Look forward to seeing you there!

Leave a comment »