Bereaving Butters (Farewell To A Very Good Orpington)


Butters the Mottled Orpington died yesterday.  

I used to be busy getting dinner prepared when my son Jaeson got here in by means of the kitchen sliding door. He gave me a glance that I utterly misinterpret. I believed he’d seen all of the greens I used to be dicing and was expressing his displeasure.

He stood there silently for some time, then lastly requested how chilly it could get in a single day. I replied that we had been dropping to the low 30s. He then requested if the bottom can be extra frozen with the snow we had been anticipating than it at present was.

An odd query. I paused in halving tomatoes and gave him a quizzical look.  

 “We knew it was sure to occur,” he responded. “Butters is lifeless.” 

I deserted dinner, rapidly pulling on my muck boots, jacket and a pair of disposable gloves. Jaeson already had a shovel prepared. We headed out to say farewell to our beloved Orpington hen.  

Subscribe now

Surprising Orpington 

Butters got here to us fairly by chance. In the course of the Chocolate Orpington craze of 2015, I bought a dozen Chocolate Orpington hatching eggs from a vendor on eBay. The eggs arrived intact, however they had been tagged Mottled Orpington.

Once I contacted the seller, they apologized for the error, refunded my cash, and instructed me to maintain the eggs. They didn’t have any extra Chocolate Orpington eggs.

I set a complete of 30 eggs to hatch, together with the Mottled Orpington ones. Solely three Mottled infants hatched (together with 20 Black, Blue and Lavender Orpingtons). Two appeared to put on little tuxedoes, whereas the third had just a few black splotches on its creamy yellow fluff. My sons instantly named her Butters.  

This buttery little pullet turned a favourite with us and together with her hatchmates. It appeared as if everyone needed to be Butters’ pal, discover together with her, snooze together with her, even dustbathe together with her. Butters rapidly found the best way to hop up the steps to our deck and that, if she pecked on the sliding door, she’d be given a grape, a tomato or a bit of bread.

In fact she shared this data together with her greatest associates. Quickly Butters and her buddies—Stormy, Selene, Claudine, Fitzgirl and Claude—got here knocking each day.  

Learn extra: You, too, can educate your chickens to do methods for treats!

A Particular Chicken

The Orpington breed is understood for being docile and affectionate, and Butters undoubtedly embodied these traits. On sunny days, once I selected to take a seat exterior and browse, Butters would announce herself with a smooth cluck and both leap up onto my lap or quiet down beside my chair.

She was trusting virtually to a fault.

I virtually had a coronary heart assault when Jaeson known as me out again to point out me a brand new trick. He had skilled Butters to perch on his bike’s handlebars whereas he rode across the yard. Butters additionally realized one other trick: If we held up a bit of bread, she would leap for it.

It didn’t take lengthy for her to share this new expertise together with her buddies.

Over time, Butters selected to be a bachelorette. The roosters appeared to know there’d be hassle in the event that they tried courting her, and she or he by no means confirmed any inclination in direction of broodiness. She turned Auntie to youthful ladies, and the Orpington run remained peaceable and harmonious.  

Mottled Orpington chickens chicken hen

Surviving Tragedy

She—and we—suffered a real tragedy two years in the past, when her besties all out of the blue died over the course of two days. We quickly realized that our neighbor to the east had used a strong herbicide proper on the property line, precisely the place the Orpington gang liked to forage. For causes I nonetheless don’t perceive, Butters had not joined her crew of their forays to the border.

This saved her life but additionally modified it irrevocably.  

With so few Orpingtons left and a rising variety of Ameraucanas, I made the tough determination of swapping coops. Butters would return to the small white coop of her youth, forsaking the bigger coop.

A minimum of that was the plan. Butters wouldn’t have it. She’d misplaced her associates and wasn’t about to lose her residence, too.

She and the remaining Orps refused to cooperate. They flapped their wings and shrieked and dashed across the run, eluding seize. After half-hour of continuous, unsuccessful chase, we gave up.  

Nonetheless, issues had been completely different for Butters. Lonely with out her closest associates, she lastly submitted to each Thomas Orpington and to Claude Orpington (who handed on quickly after; his publicity to the herbicide had been to a lesser diploma than that of the Orp ladies).

Butters turned broody for the primary time in her life. However with no expertise at setting, she was remarkably horrible at it. We lastly rescued her clutch and put them beneath our Silkie, Natalya. Thus Natalya turned surrogate mother to Margarine (what else would we identify a toddler of Butters?), Claude Jr. and Thomas Jr. 

Learn extra: Comply with these 4 steps when burying a deceased hen.

Midlife for a Mottled Orpington

Oddly, Butters refused to have something to do together with her offspring, so Natalya fortunately raised them. At about 4 months of age, we moved Claude Jr. (CJ) in with the Ameraucana ladies, as they’d been roosterless for a 12 months. He rapidly confirmed them who guidelines the roost and continues to take action.

Margarine (known as Margie for brief) disappeared one afternoon and, regardless of hours of looking out, was by no means seen once more. Thomas Jr. (TJ, or Tiny due to his dwarfism) remained with Natalya till the fateful day I attempted as soon as once more to do a coop swap. This time, Butters gave in and took up residence in her former coop, together with Tiny and Natalya.

The three fashioned an odd bond—mom, surrogate mom and son. Natalya one way or the other determined Butters was mother and would tuck herself beneath the bigger hen to sleep. 

As Butters’ eyesight slowly failed, she spent increasingly more time contained in the coop, though I often caught Tiny making an attempt to persuade her into popping out. He did discontinue perching at evening, selecting as a substitute to remain beside the older Orpington hen on the coop ground. We lined the coop ground with further shavings to offer consolation and heat.

Every so often, I’d discover Butters exterior, sitting contentedly beneath the wild daisies that develop within the run. She had at all times liked daisies. She gave my husband Jae the stink eye for weeks as soon as after he weed-whacked the daisies right down to clear the run for her. However even with out her eyesight, she at all times managed to seek out the daisies.  

And that’s the place we discovered her, her head tucked ahead as if she had been asleep. We buried her out again within the hen graveyard close to the place we’d laid her associates to relaxation. We lined her utterly, placing a board, then a number of logs excessive of her grave. I added a sprig of her daisies on high.  

Farewell, Butters. Thanks for the sunshine and pleasure you dropped at us.  



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.