RIP Yoko

Earlier this evening after a vet consultation we decided that it was time to say goodbye to Yoko. It was really hard. It’s been a difficult week. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that I don’t have any hens now. I miss Yoko and I miss having my girls. I’m really sad.

Despite the ‘success’ of the operation, Yoko had got worse and worse all week. She stopped showing any interest in life – going off her food, drinking less and spending most of her time sleeping in her makeshift nestbox/carrier in the shed. Whilst I was at work Rich would check on her continuously through the day and I would take over the minute I got in from work.

We were hoping she would improve, but it wasn’t to be. It could have been a number of things associated with the operation and her peritonitis, nothing that could really be ‘fixed’. We just didn’t want her to suffer and just ‘exist’. Despite having sterile EYP, she’d had an extra 18 months with us. She’d had a good run outside of the battery cages and we dedicated so much of ourselves to giving her extra care.

So our vet gave us a couple of minutes to say goodbye. I told her how much we’d enjoyed having her, how much I cared for her, how she could say hello to the others for me and could keep them in line, wherever they were. I stroked her head and as she’d done all week, she nodded off. We were let out the back way and I stood in the car park and cried. I cried for Yoko and cried for the fact that I’ve now said goodbye to the last of my first girls.

It just feels odd. I keep wanting to go out and check on them, or feel compelled to be outside at dusk. I see food and think I’ll save it for a treat for my girls. We’ve cleared out her things in the shed; I didn’t want to see her empty box and food and water bowls around.

So now my Smallest Smallholding is chickenless. In some ways it’ll be relief to not worry about my hens; the past year or so has seen at least one of them going through an illness. I won’t have to get up so early in the summer to let them out, I won’t feel the guilt of missing them whilst I’m at work.

But I feel SO strongly that there are three or four other girls out there, currently behind bars, unaware that they’ll be coming here to live out the rest of their lives. That, I know, is a certainty. We’ll have a break; lots of vet bills are expensive and we need a holiday. But this isn’t it. It’s not over for my Smallest Smallholding, despite the fact that my first girls are now no longer with us.

But this break…being without hens…for me, it’s going to take a lot of getting used to. A lot.

Rest in Peace Yoko. You were a wonderfully bright, vivacious girl and you brought me a lot of happiness. I hope you liked your life here. I’ll miss you more than you’ll ever know xxx


  1. “sniff”
    no dammit
    “shed lots of tears….”

    oh damn I really hoped you would have a happy ending…..

    I am *so sorry* …I am in tears here…as I know (as you know) exactly how you feel….

    I miss mine, too I miss Cathy and Genghis Hen…they were such characters…ex battery hens somehow really get to us, don’t they…..

    I am *so* so sorry about Yoko, but you know you did the right thing by Yoko AND you did the very best for them all along…

    RIP Yoko, you will be very much missed….

  2. I’m so sorry but you’re right: there are more hens waiting for you and their new life at the Smallest Smallholding and boy, you’re gonna exceed their wildest dreams.

  3. So sorry to hear about your Yoko, they have all had a god life with you and there will be more to come, hopefully with better health.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes.

  4. Awww me and my partner have just sat crying reading your post. I’m glad your ladies had a happy life outside the cages. We’re getting 4 of our own in a few weeks. Hopefully we can give them as good a home as you gave yours.

  5. I am so sorry to hear about Yoko
    I read about your blog in Countryfile magazine only on Tuesday & i have been on your site every day since- it’s great
    I couldn’t believe it when i read about Yoko, i thought she was going to be ok :0(
    You are right- there are 4 more girls (i think 6 !)sat in their squashed little cages waiting for someone as nice as you to give them a lovely new life
    I rescued 6 last June & although poor Rosie died after a couple of months & we, like you were very very sad, we reminded ourselves that she’d had 2 months of love & happiness.
    The others are great- such little minxes & this last christmas we “liberated” a Turkey, who has decided to repay our kindly deed by supplying us with an egg every day- although i’m not sure she realises she is laying an egg-i think when God gave out brains, she thought he said Trains & missed hers !!By the way they taste fab- i have just had one poached for my tea :o)

  6. I am very sorry to hear this. I did wonder how much time the operation would buy her, but I certainly hoped it would be weeks or even a few months. You may well have been unlucky. However, I have just found out today that hybrids such as the ones used in the egg industry only live for about 4 or 5 years and start to have health problems from about 3 years. If they have used up more eggs/ova aka yolks they live less long, whether that’s because they lay lots of eggs with double yolks or have been artificially induced to keep laying with electric light in Winter.

    It sounds like a break from chickens will do you good. I guess you need time to grieve. But if you decide to have more chickens in the future I hope very much you will have more luck. Also you could always get some different chickens before you go back to ex-bats. Some breeds live quite a long time, although they don’t lay so many eggs each year, but they will therefore keep laying for longer.

    You certainly seem to have done everything you could to give your ‘girls’ the best possible life after the battery cages, and to minimise their suffering at the end. What chicken could ask more of you. You are not to blame for the battery farming system.

  7. Oh no, I am so sorry to read about this 🙁

    A break is probably a good idea, if only to allow you time to reflect on the grand life you gave those girls, and to ready yourself for the inevitable acquisition of some more.

    Mourn as you of course will, rightly so, but please allow yourself a moment to pat yourself on the back for having done something unutterably noble and kind.

    And thanks to this blog and the publicity it’s gained, more people will realise that these creatures have a right to a good life, the kind of life you gave Yoko, Patty and the other girls.

    You did A Very Good Thing.

  8. stumbled across your website when I rehomed my 6 ex batts last month and have been reading about your trials with your hens over the last couple of weeks. Have checked on Yoko every day this week and I am so sorry she has not made it. I hope that your new ladies, when you are ready for them, give you just as much as your first special girls. Keep writing, you are an inspiration. xx

  9. Lucy, I’m so sorry for you! its now a change in routine too that will make it all that more upsetting…but you have given them a chance to know some freedom and a lot of happiness, of which you should be proud and very happy for.

    have a rest, get your back sorted and then on with the next girls, if thats what you wish!

    Hope eventually, the memories will bring a smile and not tears.

    Cat x

  10. I’ve just caught up on your postings and so sorry to hear that you have lost your last 2 girls. It’s so hard to say goodbye, I think more so as they have had such a bad start in life, inflicted by humans.
    I have to say goodbye to one of my girls last month and was more upset thanI’d anticipated. Poor Hilda had never laid a solid egg and was starving herself at the end, so was an obvious decision at the end as it was clear she wasn’t going to get any better.

    I hope you are feeling ok and really proud of yourself for giving your girls a wonderful life (that much is obvious) and that at some point you feel able to give some more hens a lovely home.

  11. The Garden Smallholder says

    Rest in peace Yoko, so sorry Lucy xx

  12. Lucy – you did the best for them that you possibly could and they were such lucky hens to have you as their “retirement mum”. This is a time for you to grieve, reflect and recharge. You will know when the time is right again.
    Love Doodles

  13. Hi Lucy

    I have just read your blog after a couple of months away and have caught up on the sad news about your precious girls, esp. Maureen and Yoko. I’m in tears for you.

    Those chooks had the best life with you and I am sure they knew it after what their earlier life entailed. They would have sensed the wonderful and caring human being you are and finally felt the love that they truly deserved.

    I hope you can enjoy a peaceful break and a recharge so that you can take on some more rescues with a smile.

    Keep on writing – you have a wonderful style that’s not only engrossing but also encompassing for the reader.

    I wish you only the best – you have great things coming your way!
    Michelle x

  14. Just caught up on your posts and I’m sorry Yoko didn’t make it. I know how you feel about your chickens – I’ve had trials with my own ex-batts but luckily they came right in the end.

    I bet it won’t be long before you have some more…they’re addictive!

  15. Desperately behind with my Blog so have only just caught up with yours…so sorry to read about poor Yoko. Cold comfort I know but at least you gave her a great quality of life, dedicated with love & care – just what she deserved.