I buried my oldest hen today. She was the first hen I ever owned and lived to the ripe old age of 10.
Her name was Buffy the eggs layer, though she was rarely given her full title. She was known mostly as Buffy or Buf-Buf, often Buffalo and sometimes Buffle coat.
Although her beautiful buff feathers had mellowed with age to a soft wheaten shade from the fiery ginger biscuit tone of her youth, the contrast of her deep red comb against her plumage was always striking.
Buffy - you were always such a smart little hen.
She was a confident, intelligent and low maintenance little hen who knew her own mind. A strong but gentle leader who maintained her status in the flock despite her advancing years with nothing more than a low pwork, a fixed gaze and very, very rarely, a measured but well timed peck.
Buffy - a strong but gentle leader
I loved her. And deeply admired her. And I am grateful for all the years that I shared with her. She taught me so much and was the inspiration for me to write a book about chickens in the hope what others could learn from all that she had taught me.
Her name reflected the fact that she was a prolific egg layer. Never interested in being treaded by a cock and never going broody. Calm, capable and dignified, she never squawked or screeched her objections when her preferred nest box was occupied but simply selected another or quietly waited her turn.
She refused to perch at roosting time. Preferring instead to nestle in the straw of her favourite nest box which she secured by going to bed a good 40 mins earlier than anyone else.
Buffy - so excited at your first experience of straw, you never lost your love of it.
She never ailed for anything. When occasionally some of my other birds developed respiratory infections brought in by the visiting wild birds she never ever caught it.
Buffy - My special little hen
Towards the end of her laying life as her tiny muscles grew weaker she developed egg peritonitis as a result of egg impaction. I loaded her into the car and we drove for hours on a sweltering hot day to get to the poultry specialist. The vet wasn’t hopeful as most hens fail to survive this condition, but Buffy wasn't ready to let go just then and neither was I. So although she never laid eggs again she bounced back within a day or two and continued to live an active and happy life until it was time for her to say farewel.
I loved her. And I miss her and all that she represents. A chapter in my life that we shared. A journey of innocence, adventure and discovery that leads to experience, knowledge and wisdom but that only ever takes us forward. In our excitement to learn and explore we open so many doors but fail to notice that they close behind us, barring our way back.
Goodbye Buffy you were such an exceptional hen
Perhaps one day we may meet again my little feathered friend.