Friday, 18 July 2014

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

I'm feeling very sad today.
Wellington is dead.
He had an eye infection, which we've been treating for the last two weeks with oral antibiotics and ointment, and I thought he seemed much brighter. But last night when I carried him in to the kitchen for his dose, he felt a bit limp. I wondered if he was all right, but I put it down to the lateness of the hour. I'd been out at a meeting, so we didn't get to treat him until nearly midnight, when he would have been well and truly asleep anyway.

Wellington, the King of the Castle

Poor Wellington. He was dead in his bed this morning.
It's the way they go, generally, birds. In the wee, small hours of the night, but I've never got used to finding someone dead in the hen house. Especially not Wellington.

He weighed over nine and a half pounds. I couldn't believe it.
We knew he was a big boy, but I was amazed when I found out how heavy he actually was. We had to weigh him for the medication - our friend the Cement-Sculptor staggered onto the scales holding him firmly in both hands.
Nearly ten pounds. That's four and a half bags of sugar. It's a lot of bird.

We buried him in the orchard this morning.
ModelDog sat very close to my legs and leaned down to peer into his grave.
She doesn't like graves.
SuperModel disliked the whole sorry process so much that she boycotted the funeral - well, almost.
She compromised and lay under the neighbouring apple tree, watching us and yawning self consciously. It was obvious she didn't want to be there.
I wrapped him in a tea towel that had a map of Jersey on it - it seemed appropriate, as he was a Jersey Giant, although he'd never been to the Channel Islands, map or no map.
Perhaps he'll go now. Make his way to his ancestral fields that look to France one way and England the other. I'm sure he'll like it there.

He was a big boy, and looked all spit and polish

I put a bunch of Felicite and Perpetue roses in his grave too, and a sprig of rosemary. I always put rosemary in anyone's grave flowers. 'There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.'
Because I'll always remember.
I nearly picked some fennel too, but not pansies, or columbine. And not rue.
The French boys dug up all my rue and threw it away, so there is no more rue.
Just plenty of rueing.

The French boys dug up all the rue

The In-Charge and I stood in the orchard, trying to remember when we got him, Wellington.
I remember the night well enough. I met a friend up at the lay by in the next village, and he opened up the back of his Landrover and took this huge, black cockerel out of a cage and handed him to me, and in return I gave him a bag of layers pellets.
'There you go,' he said. 'Just wait til your ladies get a sight of him, they won't know themselves!'
He was right. They followed him everywhere, he was a beauty.
A great, gentle giant.

Wellington keeping Napoleon in his place back in the day

As we stood paying our respects, a rather frenetic figure hurried across the grass not far from us.
He paused at regular intervals to crow as loudly as possible.
Heinz von Bitzen.

'The King is dead. Long live the King!' the In-Charge commented dryly

But it will take a while before he assumes the crown in my head.
And none of the hens paid the slightest heed either.
Despite Napoleon, his Imperial grandfather, he just doesn't have the presence.
Perhaps he'll grow into it.

Heinz von Bitzen


  1. I think the animal kingdom must rejoice at these heartfelt farewells that you send your much loved creatures off with. X T

    1. Thank you for your comment. Perhaps it does rejoice. Not much rejoicing on our part, but fitting to send them off with ceremony when we have loved them well, and they have been part of us.

  2. Losing an animal we have cared for and admired is grievous. I'm keeping a vigil this week for a dear 16 year old cat. So many brief animal lives to fill our longer spans of years. I've a tendency to place some sprigs of lavender, or mint or a few wildflowers in the graves of my cats--its a gesture for myself rather than for my pet, but a meaningful way to get through a sad task.
    I'm a bit wary of chickens, but can appreciate the splendor of your Wellington.

    1. Hello - thank you for visiting again! I'm sorry to hear about your cat, and know just how you must be feeling. 16 years is a wonderful age for a cat, but as you put it so well - so many brief animal lives to fill our longer spans. How true. Yes, I agree with you, I think putting flowers in their graves is indeed a gesture for myself, but it is an age old tradition now. He was splendid, Wellington, he was indeed splendid.

  3. He was magnificent Lorely, and must have known how important he was in the poultry and human hearts! Long live the King! X

    1. He was magnificent, Lizzy, but he wasn't a forward creature at all. He did a good job - looked after his ladies beautifully. We miss him.

  4. I read the first part of this at the weekend and so knew your sad news, but couldn't get sufficient internet connection to read the whole. Now I have, and seen the pictures. He was a magnificent bird, and rather more attractive than the Iron Duke.
    Give Heinz time; he has a lot to live up to. it must be quite daunting for the poor fellow. Maybe let him watch reruns of the Great egg race with his wonderful namesake Prof Heinz Wolff.

    1. Yes, magnificent indeed, and his beak was certainly more attractive than the Iron Duke's!
      I think you are right, Isobel - Heinz just needs time. Your suggestion is hilarious as well!


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