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It Started with a Chick

It started with chick…

The earliest memory I have involving animals is having a tiny chick placed tentatively into my hands; my mother poised ready should I drop the creature. Cheep, cheep, cheep, she called: my mother; not the chick although, it too was cheeping, just not quite as enthusiastically as my mum.

I am not sure what age I was when that tiny creature was thrust upon me but for some reason I have held onto that memory as though a treasured possession. In fact, most of my early memories of animals involved chickens or chicks. I recall picnicking with family at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire when we were accosted by a rowdy group of hens, whilst my parents tried to gently shoo them away, I sat and shared my lunch with them; or the time we went to the Island of Corfu (I was 8). The apartment we stayed in was right next door to a little poultry farm. One day, I wandered over to see the chicks running around their yard and the lady there, offered me a hand full of corn to feed them. The next day I tried to liberate 2 of them in my beach bucket only to be stopped at the gate. Needless to say, I wasn’t allowed to go back. All my life has, at some point, involved being around animals and from as far back as I can remember, I have wanted nothing more than to work with them myself. At the age of 15/16, I worked an allotment with a douche of a man (my sister’s ex-husband) and found out about a poultry auction at Melton Mowbray. We went and bought a small flock of Cuckoo Marans and a couple Light Sussex. Before long that few turned into about 15 and then the next to come were the ducks. The hens back then were great, the cockerels; not so much. We had 3 cockerels, 2 maran and one light sussex. The marans were like bulldogs and stood at about 3 feet tall; they would tag team and attack anyone that went anywhere near their coop. We had a dustbin lid and a broom near the gate ready for them. They went in the pot quite quickly.

We were never without eggs and often, the hens went broody and hatched lots of little fluff balls. I was well and truly hooked. Some time later, I found my self back at Melton Market and found a beautiful trio of Gold Sebrights. The hens laid so many eggs, all of which I hatched and either kept or sold on at the market. I was once again happy and back in my element. Yet, this came to an abrupt end when during a weekend away, 4 out of 10 hens and 1 cockerel died due to them not receiving any care from the people I left in charge. I couldn’t bare to carry on. I gave up the allotment and re-homed all the hens. It wasn’t until 2011 when I moved in with Kenneth, that I found the confidence and had the support to start again. At the most, we had 23 chickens, 6 ducks, 14 rabbits, 20 guinea pigs and an aviary full of birds. I was brimming with happiness.

In 2012, I began to build my own business looking after dogs. I progressed into micro-chipping, and grooming and eventually began to learn how to train them and, in 2013, built a pet feed supply business from home called 'The Urban Ark'.

Alas, in 2014, it all once again had to stop. Kenneth had been made redundant and the only job his company had for him was in Bristol. So, in October 2014 we moved to somerset. I still had 2 dogs but it wasn’t enough and then, as fate would have, in late 2015 I developed seriously allergic reaction to many things, but the worst on the list was my dogs. I was (and still am) heartbroken. The next few years were tough. I had really low moments and often had feelings of total loss and couldn’t bare to live. I had almost given up. We had (and still have) 2 amazing children but I couldn't escape the feeling of shame, anger and hatred for having to give up on my dreams and so many of the things I loved; time after time.

That was until March 2019 when I was thrown a life line. Some local lovelies answered a ‘last ditch attempt to regain some sense of who I am’ Facebook post and things, since then, have been tricky, but amazing. We now run a rare-breed farm, utilising around 9 acres of land and instead of hens this time, we started with sheep. 6 wonderful Shetland Sheep.

This quickly turned into 9 which quickly turned into 21, followed by 7 wonderful pigs. We obviously went back to hens and finally re-homed 65 hens and 5 cockerels from ex commercial farms or from farms that couldn’t keep them.

I developed ‘The Good Life Projects’ which is now an evolving business and life, is slowly becoming good.

I am in a world I have forever longed to be in and am loving it. I have to thank that little chick. If it wasn't for it, I would probably be a biologist or an architect :)

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