This has been the saddest of summers – we’ve lost four of our lovely hens since May.
And the loss of Hermia was a tough one. Like Beatrice, one of her flock sisters, she only had a year of retirement with us. The photo above shows the moment she was handed to us by a British Hen Welfare Trust volunteer last summer.
Hermia was incredibly shy and would dart into the borders, hiding from the rest of the flock. But she did like to sunbathe, stretching her wings out wide.
When she first arrived, she had a completely bare neck but, within a month, she had grown so many new feathers, and her neck was covered with beautiful chestnut feathers.
She became a real beauty and was very photogenic. Last autumn, I harvested some of our squashes and couldn’t resist popping Hermia up on the table. It’s one of my favourite ever hen photos. In fact, I had it turned into a mouse mat and it’s sitting next to me on my desk.
Hermia became a very vocal hen and would march up and down the garden complaining noisily about the lack of perfect places in the hedge to lay her eggs. She loved laying in the hedge but, the trouble was, she used to sneak through into next door’s garden so we were forced into putting chicken-wire up. Hermia, however, wasn’t put off by this and managed to jump over the fence, laying her eggs just where she wanted to. The problem came in getting back. She usually couldn’t which meant bending down behind the wire to scoop her up. In the photo below, you might be able to see some of her eggs in the hedge – it took us a few days to discover her latest secret place!
Then, one day, having laid her egg in the hedge and been scooped up by Roy, she stopped chatting to us, she stopped laying eggs and became very still. Hens can go downhill so quickly and, despite a procedure at the vets and a course of antibiotics, Hermia slowly slipped away from us.
Goodbye beautiful Hermia. We will miss you so much, but your gentle spirit will live with us forever.