Amber died last week. It was on Monday, the start of a new term. She had been steadily losing weight for several weeks, she had a lethargy about her though she did show signs of energy at times. She ate less and spent a lot of time watching the world go by or her sisters, Ruby and Sapphire, feeding and scratching.

I had opened the door to their room and she was lying there, at first I thought she had already died but a closer look showed that she was still breathing, and her eyes flickered open and closed to greet me. I gathered her up and tried to make her more comfortable but a few minutes later she breathed her last and her eyes closed on the world for one last time.

I miss her. Of our three hens, all warrens, she was my favourite. Her feathers were more golden than the reddy brown of the other two girls, thus her name. She glowed when the sun caught her feathers and she had white eyebrows which made her very easy to identify even at dusk. She was the smallest of the three and was occasionally henpecked by the others but they got along really well together most of the time. I think Ruby and Sapphire miss her as well.

We rarely eat meat, and we would / could not eat Amber, especially as we don’t know what she died of, but as part of the cyclical economy that is nature, we may find ourselves consuming part of her at a future date as she is now buried several spades deep at the end of our vegetable garden.

Will we replace her? Amber is not replaceable! She was her own, unique being. But we will look to add to our small flock in time. We will first keep an eye on Ruby and Sapphire to make sure that they are fit and healthy and then we will probably introduce a couple of new girls since we understand that it is almost impossible to successfully add one chicken to a group.

And Amber will continue to live on in my memory as one of the most beautiful hens.