Heartbroken as I lost my special girl Gravy. This morning she had so much energy, we played, we went outside, shared lunch, cuddled in and snoozed together all afternoon where she passed in my arms. Gravy so loving and gentle, my special girl.
Gravy had been ill for some time, just as we lost Speckled we noticed that when she was eating she was twisting her neck. The vet identified a tiny growth at the base of her crop, and she was twisting to get food to go down. Due to her age and arthritis the vet said it would be too dangerous to operate as she may not survive if find something, they can’t help her with, however as she was happy, we brought her home with some medicine. After her stomach liner medicine ran out, she continued as normal if twisting more until one day she when she vomited up a little blood and we took her back to the vets whereas she was still bright we concluded that she may have cut inside her crop with one of her grit while twisting her neck, and we gave her more stomach liner, an antibiotic, and we removed her oyster shell grit from her diet and she improved greatly. In mid-December she took a downturn, she had passed some blood and she could not support herself on her legs and would now even move them to try and position her on my knee, and we took her to the vets not thinking I would be bringing her home. The nurse examined her and said she may not have much time, and as the vets know how well I look after my girls she gave me the option to let her go now or take her home with some medicine, an option she said she would not give to others. She told me to hold Gravy and she gave me 10 minutes alone to decide. With Gravy in my arms, she was looking at me with those eyes and I could not let her go, I brought her home with 3 days of medicine and the vets made a note on the account that we may need an urgent appointment or further medication depending on her condition. Gravy improved and even started walking on her own again, and we kept having to get refills of her medications as it makes swallowing much easier for her. From here on Gravy lived in the house and spent most of her day on my knee or in her little bed watching Stargate and Doctor Who or sitting with me in the shed. Over the next months, she remained stable and make a couple of trips to the vets for check-ups and the growth got bigger. For a couple of weeks, we started making noises when breathing that dependent on how she was sitting would get quite loud but immediately went away once she was supported on my knee, but this stopped after a couple of weeks as she got a little better. She was in good spirits but started the vomit up bits of blood, she was still eating and pooping normal and was happy getting all her cuddles and attention, even up to her last day, we played, we went outside, shared lunch, and she cuddled in and snoozed on my knee for hours where she passed in my arms.
At the chicken breeding farm, there were several large pens with hundreds of girls waiting and the owners and we asked for 1 blue (to be Gravy) and 2 reds (Tikka and BBQ) they randomly picked up a blue and the owners handed her to me to hold while they picked out 2 reds. I was still nervous about holding chickens back then as I did not want to hurt her, but I held her tight under my arms until we could place her in the travel box to come home.
On the way home we stopped off at Morrison’s and I went into the back of the car to talk with my new girls where I snapped a picture, to think Gravy would grow to fill this space. At home, we had separated the space in the lower area of the coop for them where they could see out and the other girls could see in and meet each other.
We had asked at the farm how long we should keep them separate until they all get used to each other, and they had said to let them out with the others the next day and they would follow and fall in line with the others. So, the next day they explored their new home keeping together. Then at bedtime Gravy was missing. After searching all over, we found her up and inside a tree as chickens will lookout for a high place at night to perch and sleep in safety especially when they have not learned where their safe place is yet, so we had to lower the branch on the tree to get her down and put her to bed. After this, she found her safe place in the coop for bedtime with the others.
I thought Gravy might become a little troublemaker as she had incredibly powerful wings jumping and flying across the garden and even up on to my back when I leaned over in the garden. Gravy could have easily pushed up the ranks in the pecking order. But Gravy was a peaceful girl and Gravy tended to do her own thing when playing in the garden and would not even jump the wall into the next field where the others played. The only times she would journey over was if like BBQ I carried her over the wall the play on the other side.
One day Gravy had decided while in the next field to come back over the wall and she climbed up a railway sleeper that was up against the wall, she had slowly stepped up to the top and gotten herself stuck and needed helping down so I had to climb up and help her down but not before getting a photo that I still use on my watch today.
Like all the others Gravy would swarm when I came out to play and to check if I had brought any treats and I remember one time as she was running around my ankle a stumbled a almost stood on her toes, she was perfectly fine but it took a little while before she would come back to play with me.
As Gravy often did her own thing this include at bedtime where rather than sleep with the other, she one night decided that she wanted to sleep in the little box bed that we made for little KFC. KFC was a tiny little guy and Gravy was massive and buckled the sides, leaving poor little KFC staring up at me saying that is my bed.
Often wondered if Gravy did this on purpose to wind up little KFC. KFC was a tiny cockerel about the size of a plastic one-pint milk bottle and with Gravy being one of the biggest he was brave to try and get on top of her. One time when he tried to mount her, he jumped up and before he could get near Gravy slapped him with her wings like pinball machines flippers and he stunned was launched in the other direction.
Sitting in the garden with the girls one sunny morning after the floods and the girls were living in the conservatory. Local wild birds would hop into the conservatory to share some of the girl’s corn but on this day a little tiny bird flew into the glass and injured itself. It sat stunned on the ground looking at me as if to say what happened there. It soon hopped under a plant to recover in the shade and did not mind me taken a couple of photos up close still looking a bit stunned. I thought to get a little box where it could safely recover, however. When I returned, Gravy had the poor little bird in her beak and was running away with it. The last I saw of both Gravy and the little birds were as she ran with it into the dense bushes where she ate it fully in one go.
After we had to move from the Old School, Gravy along with all the other girls had to temporarily live on someone else’s property until we could find somewhere more permanent. This person was evil, and Gravy was often frightened and would hide under a little shelter made for her. She got so frightened one night she prematurely laid her egg when they set a bonfire close to their encloser.
This encloser was not very suited to the girls as there was no greenery got them and we had to buy them a bag of salad leaves every day, something we then have done ever since especial as Gravy loved it and enjoyed being it feed it by hand.
I was so pleased to get Gravy and my girls away from there temporarily moving them again before getting away from this region to move to Avonbridge.
In our new home, until we could get their coop and enclosure built, we set up one of those small plastic mini-greenhouses for them to play in until everything could be set up and the garden checked over. But as I scooped them out to give them cuddles, I set Gravy out on the grass and she was the first one out to play in the new garden at Avonbridge.
Gravy still loved to do her own thing soon found her favourite spots in the garden where we liked to sunbathe and snooze and could often be found sunbathing against the old coop and the back of the garden or under the little tree in the centre of the garden resting in the shade. Gravy also had another spot next to the oil tank she could sit a pick at bugs in the shade, and first thing in the morning of a sunny day Gravy could be found at the back of the enclosure getting those morning rays.
This was something that Gravy would always do as she was big and heavy, she would park herself in a spot and pack all around her before moving to the next spot. As Gravy was big and heavy and often called her a Chunky Monkey and so many times, I did this with Gravy on my knee and so many times she would turn to me beak open as if to say what did you just call me.
Gravy size would lead her to other problems as her size she was always the hottest and would always get hit hard by mites when we had an outbreak and they could be seen near her eyes got the moisture, thankfully it has been several years since we last had an outbreak.
In the first winter we moved the girls from the Coop in the enclosure coops we set up in the shed, this also allowed me to sit with my girls for longer in the shed playing their music and giving them cuddles. First on the way to bed Gravy as a good girl and would wait just round from the enclosure gate remaining sheltered while waiting for me to come to her. We would then walk side by side to the shed and later on the house as she liked to be escorted.
In the shed was bedtime storytime where I would sit for an hour or so with the girls and have them all climb on me to perch. BBQ would cuddle in on my left leg, Noodles on my right, Casserole on my shoulder, tikka in the coop and both Gravy and Speckled perched together on my left arm that was resting on the top of their coop. As Gravy was a super heavy girl, she cut the circulation off in my arm but that was probably her way of making sure I did not go anywhere. But Gravy is not always a good girl sitting there as she would often peck BBQ on my knee and then be told off by Speckled.
Some nights in the shed if Gravy could not make up her mind if she wanted to go in the coop with Tikka or perched on my arm, I would get the other settled on my knee, shoulder, and arm, then she would decide to be with us. However, as I could now not pick her up and she was too heavy to jump up herself she would stand and peck my knee demanding to be up for a cuddle. I would stretch my leg out for her to walk up like Casserole, but Gravy was not the sharpest tool and would still pace back and forth from my knee to my outstretched foot, not sure how to get up, even Casserole would climb down and back up to show her, but she still looked on clueless and after a great deal of couching she might figure out how to climb up for her cuddle.
Surprising that Casserole would help to show Gravy how to do it as the only time Gravy was ever aggressive was when she first met Casserole, seeing another blue Gravy pecked through the bars on the coop to have a go at her.
As time went on and the winter got colder, we moved them into the kitchen and Gravy cuddle spot moved from my arm to my knee where she would purr like a kitten, especially enjoying long strokes from her head down to her tail purring with every breath. Wrapped un in my arms. Although if she had clean bedding in her box she would never come for her cuddles as one of her favourite things was fresh straw in her bed. You could always tell when Gravy was happily asleep in her bed as you could hear her snoring. Gravy’s sleeping also always had me worried as she slept with her neck outstretched and beak down in front of her whereas the rest pop their head under their wings.
Gravy loved being cuddled or having her tummy tickled and would if not in her favourite sunbathing spots would come to where I was sitting in the shed to watch them stretching her foot up to the door frame to signal she wanted up. She would immediately cuddle in and then start pecking at my wrist this was to tell me to roll up my jacket sleeve as Gravy loved to rest her head on the strap of my apple watch and go to sleep purring away, only interrupted if a seagull flew over as she was frightened by them even though they have never once landed in the garden but holding her close and telling her she is safe she would quickly settle back into her purring and snoozing. When on my knee Gravy would often pretend to be asleep with her eye on the side facing me closed and relaxed and the other open watching, she knew she has nothing to worry about in my direction or was just watching the TV from that side.
Gravy would sit in my arms for hours while we listened to Dicebreaker and No Such Thing As A Fish podcasts and music, I often played BBQs song for her Juno by Nerina Pallot, along with the Skyrim soundtrack that she listened to every night at bedtime I also played the Lord of the rings and stargate that she would purr to when played.
It wasn’t always fun as one time while on my knee Gravy pooped in such a way that I recommended burning the trouser.
As Gravy got older, she started to have difficulty getting around as she started to get arthritis. As she had reduced mobility and as she was so healthy, she needed getting around and would get lifted in and out of bed and in the garden would always look with those ‘Carry Me’ eyes and get scooped up to where ever she wanted to go. This began a routine for her and she would wait in the entrance to the coop in the morning to be lifted out but not before getting a salad leaf all to herself that she would near rip out of your hands.
In the winter with Gravy’s arthritis, she would enter what I called hibernation mode and after breakfast would waddle her way up into the coop where she would lay in the corner all day to stay warm. We started making up her own separate food and water dishes and placed them within easy pecking distance on the coop for her and then at the end of the day, she would have to be carried out of the top of the cop to be asked for her bedtime cuddles. If she could not make the ramp-up to the coop as Gravy would often fall into the coops, she would settle down in a sheltered spot next to the tyre that was out of the wind.
With Gravy arthritis, she no longer scratched for worms or bugs. Gravy didn’t need to as she had everything; she could ever want to eat on provided for her. But to make sure she got some worms I would take her over to the digging patch and play the shovel game making sure we found two big worms for her every day.
Casserole, always looking out for Gravy if you got into trouble with her arthritis, Casserole would call out for me to come out to the garden to rescue Gravy, if she had gotten herself stuck. Unfortunately for Casserole, this was not returned as the one day that she got herself stuck both, Gravy and Spackled just looked at her and went about their day while I was franticly looking for her.
As Gravy was not very mobile and did not scratch for bugs her beak and nails started very long in addition to a huge one, she had on her leg. So, we took her to the vets to have them trimmed as we did not want to hurt her trying ourselves. As COVID had just started I could not go in with her but from where I was parked, I could see inside to where she was and was so proud of her and her powerful wings as she gave to vet and nurse a powerful slap with her wings after she was unceremoniously tipped out of the travel box, thankfully the next time she needed it I was able to hold her and she didn’t complain at all.
She was a lot happier after that and you could see it in the way she walked around. Almost as happy as the times we had to help her with as her feathers were so dense she would often get poop stuck in them that would quickly turn into a solid big lump, she was always so visibly happy when we would cut it away.
In addition to the help Gravy needed with her arthritis, this was also needed when laying and I would often have to support her while she laid her egg after one occasion where she stumbled while laying and the egg got stuck and I had to help her to get it out. Gravy was such a happy chick she even laid her egg on my knee multiple times that made it so much easier to help her.
During the pandemic Gravy became an internet star streaming her playing and cuddle times with her loving friends the official Gravy fan club, Royal Tea and Chrissyy. Where most of her streams are snoozing and cuddles, we also watched Gravy, Speckled and Casserole playing in the garden and even watching her laying her egg. All her videos are available on YouTube and my Blog.
Gravy loved her food and when handed special foods and treats would make her do her happy chirps. When offering her a slice of watermelon she would take huge chunks out inhaling food. Whenever having a rhubarb yoghurt I had to save and share the biscuity bit with her that she would go nuts for. Gravy enjoyed being fed and when cuddled up on my knee I would feed her sweetcorn or sweetiecorn with Casserole giving them one each at a time. Even though Gravy had the same food in her dishes they preferred me to feed them like she is getting a special gift, like in the morning when she would be woken with a salad leaf at bedtime she would wait for me to refill the pot in the cop with corn but would not eat from there but wait for me to feed her with from the black scoop. Another of Gravy’s favourites for the morning was to share a Croissants with me and would give her happy chirps when giving her a piece and when placing the plate on the edge of the table would virtually clean and crumbs off the plate tapping away like the Morse code the girls tap on the fence. Nothing could get between Gravy and her food and I would even have to stop her sticking her head between the little bars on the coop as she could never wait to be lifted in first, and to help with her arthritis we made sure all her snacks were raised to give her better access.
In extremer weathers, we kept all the girls in and Gravy when not sitting in front of the TV Gravy had a spot at the bottom of the stairs that she liked to snooze in.
After we lost Speckled, and Gravy started to take ill and with the cold winter approaching, we kept her inside as if she was outside, she would have just been in hibernation mode in the coop. If the weather was nice Gravy would still go outside and sit in the sun cuddled in on my knee but for the most part, she took very well to living in the house. Gravy started with a little bed made from half her travel box, I made the end where she rested against built up and soft to support her where the growth was growing along with all her snacks within easy pecking distance for her and when she was not on my knee, she was in this little bit sitting next to my chair. Later we set up a larger box with a soft blanket for her to rest on, and like her little box get covered with corn and other snacks as even as Casserole had the same food, she insisted on eating out of Gravy’s and flicking it all over.
Gravy was happy in the living room and enjoyed watching her shows either from her box bed or sitting in front of the tv with her head craned up to the screen watching anything from the Penguins of Madagascar, Doctor Who, and would give little purrs when we watched stargate recognising the theme from listing to the soundtrack in the garden.
Much as I did not like to be separated from Gravy, Gravy did not like to be separated from me and would wait in front of my chair waiting for me to come back or get up in the morning, and equally when leaving the room even with her arthritis would race after me even if I was just leaving for a minute. Gravy had other tricks to keep me there by standing o lying across my foot to make sure I could not go anywhere, or as I would hold her, she would wrap her toes around my fingers to keep hold of me.
During the day Gravy and I would play and cuddle together, watch Stargate. If I had my tablet she would watch cartoons or play Stardew Valley together on it or just be snoozing together.
Every night after tea both my hot water bottle Gravy and Casserole would come up on my knee to watch a movie while I feed them both scrambled egg and more sweetiecorn but Casserole always watching over Gravy. At the end of the night Gravy knew it was bedtime and would walk partway on her own to bed until she gave me those Carry Me eyes where I would pick her up and tuck her in giving her a little snack from her favourite scoop, while Alexa said good night and played their bedtime music.
We only have Casserole now, she has always panicked if she finds herself alone so we are keeping close and she is going on adventures to the shops with me. Three days after we lost Gravy Casserole started laying again, she had not done this since we lost Speckled and I wonder if she had stopped laying to look after Gravy as she has been laying regularly for the past month that it has taken me to compile Gravy’s stories.
I miss my little baby Gravy she was such a loving and caring girl, always came to comfort me when I was upset like the days, we lost OxO, Tikka, noodles, BBQ and Speckled, Gravy was straight over to me to give me a hug and look after me. I hope she behaving with her sisters, Tikka and BBQ, and not taking any cheek from little KFC.