Monday, 24 September 2012


I have recently had problems accessing my blog, due to the disappearance of my Navbar.
Has anyone else suffered this loss? Is therapy available?
Life is fraught with difficulties and trip-hazards, but mercifully Wonder-Brother has come to the rescue once again.Thank you, dear Brother and may a thousand blessings shower through the leaks in your roof.
However, even Wonder Brother could not locate my missing tool, so if anyone finds a partially-used Navbar in their man-drawer, please post it back to me, the tooter the suiter.


But Navbars aside, all has not been well in the hen's paddock.

As you may know, Napoleon died two weeks ago.
It was a very sad day and the place is oddly silent. Considering how small he was, it is surprising that he took up so much room. I miss him. I miss him crowing all day, and answering to his name, his nodding head and his funny little ways.

Napoleon and Mrs Smith (aka Dolly)

I am not alone.
Mrs Smith took to her bed (which is, let's face it, an age old tradition with dowagers) on the afternoon of his death, and has remained there ever since, despite all attempts to coax her out. She even got quite cross and started biting me every time I put my hand in to lift her out.

I am ashamed to say that I hadn't thought how badly she might be affected by his going.
I suppose I presumed she would just muddle in with the other hens and carry on. I hadn't realised how much she would grieve.
I am quite shocked at how insensitive I was. I'm normally very tuned in to my animals.

Someone once told me that when an animal dies, you should leave it in its bed for awhile, for all your other animals to see, so that they understand what has happened. Since then, I have always done this, and it's true, they do all come and look and sniff and sit for awhile (or run away in some cases), but they do seem to understand. They usually attend the subsequent burial too.

I think it stops them searching for their erstwhile companion, wondering why they have disappeared and why they never return, although it didn't stop Under-Dog grieving when his mother died. For weeks he stood out in the yard looking haunted and distressed. But generally it seems to help.

A sad little Golden Princess

To my shame, I was so upset at losing Napoleon, I forgot all about Mrs Smith that horrible morning, and I didn't accord her that courtesy. He was ill, we took him away and she just never saw him again. That was it.
Perhaps she has been waiting all this time for him to come home. They were a couple after all, they spent all their time together. They had their own separate pen - Claridges.
Her obvious unhappiness has made me feel very guilty.

People tend to be slightly dismissive of animals, and mutter things about anthropomorphism.
How arrogant the human race is. As if emotions could only possibly belong to walking, talking, gum-chewing homosapiens. We have the exclusive ability to feel, the divine right to any sentiment that's going.
Perhaps it's because animals don't actually speak our language and can't put us right.
I have lived with animals all my life, and some of them have had a greater depth of feelings than many people I have known - and, even without human speech - a better way of communicating them.

Their emotions are straightforward - like a child's - but real nonetheless.

These last few days, I have been carrying Mrs Smith out to the orchard - a world she has never seen before - and putting her with the other hens. As we walk she is tense and anxious and constantly looking around, despite all my reassurances.
Is she searching for Napoleon or just seeing new vistas? Who knows.
I have also been apologising to her, something I feel is necessary, whether she understands it or not.
She certainly understands all about bereavement.

Hopefully Mrs Smith will soon join the daily race to the orchard


  1. Grief is a very lonely occupation.

  2. I'm sad for Mrs Smith now, and worried that she may never understand what happened. It's true that we are thoughtless in our power. I hope she discerns that you wish her well.

  3. Lorely I feel silly for having selfpublished a book .... somehow ....I think you realy should share your wisdom, your powerfull expressions, your deep emotions ... especialy about animals or nature ... with a way wider audience. I love your rich but soothing words, a level I will never reach .... poor Mrs. Smith ....

    1. Your book is wonderful. I loved it, and so does everyone who reads it! Thank you for your lovely comment, though Tina, I am very touched by it.

    2. I really love Tina's book as well, but I agree with Tina: you should write a book, Lorely, and I will be the first read it!
      Thank you Tina for your great words, I couldn't find them, but I am really glad, that you found them!!!!
      And poor Mrs. Smith and I am so sorry, that Napoleon has gone!!!!

  4. Poor Mrs. Smith. So sorry about Napoleon. I had a wonderful cat that had a greater depth of feeling and understanding of compassion than my two nieces and nephews will ever achieve.

    Lorely I did suffer the loss of my wonderful gray Wordpress Nav bar last year. I could not navigate my blog at all. I had to take my computer to the computer Doc and he took all my "stuff" and set up a whole new program. Duplicated it and up it popped. I could see the Nav bar on my blog on my husband's computer but not mine. Can you see your Nav bar on your computer if you use a new browser. Do you use IE? Could you try opening up your blog on Chrome or Firefox and see if it shows up then? Do you have another computer or smart phone that you could see if your Nav bar shows up there?

    1. Thank you for your comment Pix. And for your help on the NavBar. Sounds like we have the same problem, as mine is visible on other computers too.
      My brother has suggested various options - we are just waiting to find out if one particular thing is blocking it - so we'll know in a week or so. Meanwhile he has shown me alternative ways to navigate. Thank heavens for a brother who understands these things!
      Nice to see you here!

    2. You are so lucky to have a brother that knows his way around a computer. Good luck getting your Nav Bar back to its right home. Nice to be here! However I wish it wasn't a sad time with Napoleon and Mrs. Smith.

    3. I am lucky, aren't I! Thanks for your sympathy Pix. I must say, I miss that cocky little cockerel!

  5. Years ago I saw a collared dove hit by a huge German truck and reduced to a fall-out of feather and a tattered little bump in the will have observed that collared doves are often seen in pairs....well the mate of this one flew down from her building perch and stood beside the little lump, leaned towards her mate and tried to understand what had happened, as the next vehicle towered towards her she took of and flew right away.
    40 years has not lessened the impact this had on me, I too always try to let surviving animals see what has happened to their friends, not always possiable.

    I am going through lots of packing cases at the moment all kinds of strange things have turned up, things I don't remember having owned, but like very much so must have chosen them in the past, I shall keep a close eye out for your missing Nav bar!

    1. Yes, I've seen birds trying to help a mate that has been run over. It is always heartbreaking. The only consolation is that they know what has happened to their partner. Which is why I am feeling so awful about Mrs Smith.
      She is a bit happier today and I hope she will soon be herself again.

      DO keep an eye for my NavBar!

  6. Hi Lorely. I never thought to leave our dead chickens with their friends for a time. I will be doing so in future. Keep up your blogs. They are most informative and i am really starting to get in to them.

    1. Hi Niall! How nice to see you. So glad you are enjoying my blog and thank you for the compliment.
      Hope you are keeping well.

  7. Poor Mrs Smith :(

  8. Lovely post--I wholly agree about animals grieving--why should they not? I love what you are doing for and with Mrs Smith right now. We do the best we can at a given moment and later try to make up for the lapses if we can. With courage, like you display.

    I'm sending a friend here to read this.

    1. Thank you. You are right - all we can do is the best we can, and try to make up for our own lapses.
      Thanks for sharing with your friends.

  9. This is sad but beautifully written and all true!

  10. You see in the wild when an animal dies the rest of the group stays for some time, smelling touching and moving it but they seem to know when to move on as if they are letting go on their time.

    1. Yes, and they often deal with things much better than people do. They all deserve more of our respect, I think. Thanks for your comment, Margaret.

  11. Hello:
    How can we have not discovered your wonderful blog until now? But this very evening Fate directed us to return to Mise's [Pretty Far West] latest post and, as it would happen, to idle away some time reading the comments which had been left for her. And there you were!! What is more, if we understand correctly, you are in Ireland, a country for which we have a deep affection, not least for the marvellous literature which has come, and continues to come, from those shores.

    We are so sorry to learn of the death of Napoleon and can readily identify with all that you say here both about keeping hens and of animals in general. In our years gardening, rather seriously, in Herefordshire we too kept hens and do know how one becomes attached to them. We do hope that all will be well with Mrs. Smith.

    We are signing as Followers.

  12. Thank you! What a delightful comment. Yes, I live on the west coast with my assortment of creatures. I lived in Hereford for two brief, but very happy summers as a child. What a beautiful county it is, and how nice to 'garden seriously' in it.

    Thank you too for signing on as Followers. Sadly, due to some lamentable but unfixable hole in my blog's brain, followers do not get notified of new posts, so if you were hoping to be notified, please also click on 'subscribe by email' on the top right hand side of the page, or if you are facebookers, click 'Like' on my facebook page. (Goodness, doesn't that all sound very bossy!)

  13. Beautiful writing Lorely. Heartbreaking and lovely and true... xox


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