Before Christmas I wrote about the Chicken Christmas Card and how the new ex-battery girls were quite frankly a mess. No feathers, bald, shy, unsure. You can see from the Christmas card that one of them is so embarrassed that she is walking off the picture as quickly as she can.
I visited the girls again in February; I already knew that one of them had not survived. Her rescue had given her a few days of real life, but the stresses and strains of a caged existence had taken their toll and she died. The other two had, I had heard settled into their new existence and were thriving. Thriving – I found it hard to imagine how two such damaged creatures could in a couple of months be thriving.
As I travelled over to visit, I remembered how they had felt as I tried to hold and calm them. No feathers, just quills that stuck out from scrawny bodies and jabbed into my hands. They were more like porcupines than chickens. I am sure in the world of chickens that is a terrible insult. The other strong and unpleasant memory was the way one of the girls crop, packed full of food, stuck out from her body hanging down away from her chest which was too feeble and small to hold it inside. That was an ugly and shocking sight.
This time the shock was for a completely different reason. The new girls are thriving, smart, sharp and fully of feathered. They strutted their stuff showing off from all angles. They are beautiful brown and have on their uppers backs golden flecks in their russet feathers. These glow and flicker in the sunlight as the girls rushed to meet me and scratch around in the vegetation.