She had a small dog crate in the kitchen where she was comfortable and could spend her last couple of hours before crossing the rainbow bridge.
The couple of hours turned into several months and, more susrprising still, Tilda eventually decided she wanted to go back outside with the others.
A year ago today.
For the last week or so, she's been looking like she's feeling the weather. She's been eating, and she's been coming out of the run and going back in each day, bit she loooks a little fluffed up. I mentioned to DH the other day that she might have to come inside again. He wasn't amused.
This afternoon followed it's normal-ish pattern. At 3pm, I opened the gate from the Girl's free range area so they could have half an hour pecking round the bit of garden that is normally off limits. I lifted Tilda over the netting to save her walking around.
There was a nip in the air, so I decided I'd make them some pellet porridge. While it was soaking, I started weighing out ingredeients for bread. As I walked to the cupboard where the flour was, I saw Tilda prostrate on the ground, with Florence pecking at her head, and Custard watching.
I ran outside, scooped her up, and brought her inside. She looked OK. I put her on the floor and gave her something to eat. I wasn't sure what I'd just seen, so I wasn't sure what to do for the best. When I told DH, he gave me one of those looks, the visual equivalent of saying "You're just looking for an excuse".
Maybe I was?
I wanted to look at the CCTV footage to see what actually happened. I decided that if she had been attacked, then she'd better stay in the house for a day or two, otherwise I'd put her in the coop once the others had gone to bed.
It wasn't pleasant viewing.
It started off OK, with Tilda standing on one spot and the other girls ignoring her - walking past, running past, but ignoring her.
Then there was this rather unpleasant bit. Florence and Custard walked past he, ignoring her, back to the covered run. At the top of the path, they stopped and turned round. Custard walked back towards Tilda, and Florence went off at an angle, between them making a triangle shape. Custard reached Tilda, and jumped at her. Tilda ran off into the path of Florence, who chased her back.
Tilda ran between them before stopping in the middle under the tree. And then the two of them moved in and started giving her the chicken equivalent of "a good kicking" (a good pecking, I suppose).
And then immediately I was there picking her up.
So, I know that they had only just started to lay into her when I saw them.
And I know that they did it in (what appears to be) a rather nasty and calculated way.
I understand the reasons why they do it. A poorly hen is a risk to the flock, and it's for that reason that hens are so good at hiding illness.
But it's really not pleasant.
So, I went and retrieved the folding crate, and set up a pied-a-terre for Tilda. This time though, she's on basic rations.
Unlike a year ago, where she was very close to death, Tilda looks full of life. Well, relatively speaking. I'll let her overnight tonight (or maybe until after the forthcoming cold snap), and then see about putting her back outside again.
One caecal poo though, and she'll be out faster than that.