A Tribute to Speckles

I have to warn that this will be long. We had Speckles for so long that there is a lot to say about her and I have lots of photos of her. I spent all yesterday afternoon going through photos and then I had to half them to a more manageable amount.

Speckles was the most amazing girl we have had. We bought her home at the end of July 2015. She was already moulting and promptly lost her tail.

This means that she was two years old as hens lay through their first year instead of moulting. That means that Speckles was about eight years old. I have just been researching bantam ancona to see how many eggs they are expected to lay and it says that eight years is the average lifespan for an ancona.

This makes me feel better as Speckles has lived a good, full, life. It says that ancona are prolific egg layers laying between 200 and 270 eggs a year. Speckles was never a prolific layer and halved the number of eggs she laid each year.

Speckles laid none with us in 2015 as she was already moulting and she always moulted that early every year since.

Speckles number of eggs were:

2016 – 50, 2017 – 27, 2018 – 12, 2019 – 6, 2020 – 1 and of course none this year.

I have often thought that her lack of egg laying probably gave her her longevity as egg laying wasn’t wearing her out. When she did lay though they were the biggest bantam eggs we have ever had. They were a long, oval, shape and were white and huge.

Speckles came into the flock as bottom girl. She was so nervous of all the girls and of me. She soon got used to me though and within six months of having her she would regularly jump on my back. Speckles continued to do this all the time that she was with us. When I would poop pick the run she would jump on my back and ride with me until I passed a perch where she would step off.

Speckles was also my most chatty girl. She had an easily recognisable voice and would follow me round the run chatting to me and I chatted back to her.

Because we had her for so long Speckles saw a lot of girls come and go and she soon rose up the ranks to become top girl. Speckles was a very gentle top girl. I have never seen Speckles show aggression. She would just give a gentle peck to her underlings when needed and even Ebony who is quite a thug has never challenged her being top girl. I think she gained respect through age.

During the time we have had Speckles we have re homed 5 girls and lost 13 girls plus 1 cockerel. That is many more than those that came before her which were 3 re homed, 3 lost and 1 cockerel.

Speckles also formed close friendships. From the time that we lost Toffee and Emerald became the only other remaining bigger girl the two of them formed a close friendship. They were always together.

Speckles also took on a mothering role towards some of the little girls. When Cinnamon, Dandelion and Apricot joined the flock Speckles acted like a mother hen towards them. She never pecked them and she would call them to treats or titbits.

When we lost Apricot and then Dandelion Speckles formed a really close bond with Cinnamon. They were always together until we lost Cinnamon.

After losing Emerald we got Ebony and Flame so that Speckles wouldn’t be the only bigger girl. Speckles was equally at home with the bigger girls or the little girls.

At bedtime the bigger girls use the side perch which is wider for their bigger feet and the little girls use the back perch which is narrower. Speckles would equally perch with the two bigger girls or with the little girls. She was the only girl to divide her time between the two perches.

Speckles was always the first to the lunch time apple and she loved chopped tomato. On her last day with us she was as usual first to the apple at lunch time. I gave the girls chopped tomato later in the afternoon as one had gone soft and Speckles was very quick to hoover it up.

Speckles came running when I shook the bedtime corn. It was less than an hour later that I found she had gone. She was still warm and had a full crop. It is as though she was good and then she was gone which is why it was such a shock.

I am so glad that Speckles was able to enjoy a long time as top girl with us and enjoyed all her food and treats right up to the end. She has had a good innings as they say. She will be very much missed.

I have picked some photos from each year. There were many photos of Speckle’s huge red comb and of her on my back but I limited myself to just one of each. I always said that when egg laying Speckles had a comb that a cockerel would be proud of.

September 2015 Speckles has her tail back
March 2016 Speckles on my back
June 2016 Speckles magnificent comb and wattles
March 2017 Speckles was always happy to share a nest box but four is probably too many
May 2017 Speckles and Dandelion share a nest box
July 2017 Speckles surrounded by her little girls

October 2017 Cinnamon Speckles looking out
December 2017 Speckles with the little girls in the small shelter while Emerald watches
December 2017 A wet day send all the girls to the big shelter
March 2018 Speckles and Emerald had taken to perching here at bedtime in the summer
April 2018 Speckles and Emerald share a nest box
June 2018 The girls perching together
April 2019 Cinnamon would often join the bigger girls
April 2020 Speckles shares a nest box with Ebony
January 2021 The three bigger girls together

What an amazing girl. She is already very much missed but we were lucky to have had her.

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6 Responses to A Tribute to Speckles

  1. David says:

    Lovely tribute, Carol. I think that you have hit the nail on the head when you point to the correlation between poor overall egg laying and longevity: fits the bill for Cotton, too, who laid little as she was constantly broody.

    Some lovely photos and reminders of your flock of years gone by: I do remember Cinnamon especially, with her large feet and propensity for digging. Speckles was an absolute beauty; it was so good that you had her for so long.

    • Carol says:

      Cinnamon was another favourite of mine, such a character as was Emerald who was beautiful and had a lovely nature. Speckles was closest to the girls that I loved the most. Speckles was beautiful and I am grateful that we had her for so long.

  2. Sophie says:

    She was an absolute beauty and a truly gentle hen too! She has lived her chicken lifespan which is very rare with chickens as they are such delicate creatures and slipped away after a contented day with a full crop of corn. Sleep well Speckles! xx

  3. marion says:

    You have always done her proud, now with a lovely tridute, I know how much she will be missed. A beautiful girl.

    • Carol says:

      I really wanted to do her proud. I have enjoyed looking at the photos on this post several times over. It is the essence of Speckles. The run is very quiet without her chatter. I am missing her every time I go in the run.

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