Firstly, thank you SO much to everyone who was kind enough to leave such detailed cat care comments on Daughter's blog post at the weekend about our frugal kitten preparations. We read all of the comments thoroughly, found them really useful and are already putting some of your tips into practice!
Cute kittens are all very well (and there will be more of them) but I did promise news of our lonely chicken. I'm hoping that maybe the chicken owners out there will have as much advice up their sleeves as the cat owners.
For a long time we kept four happy and well-loved chickens on our allotment; the delightful Clara Cluck, Ginger, Chandi and Yoko. They pecked and scratched contentedly in their coop, making efficient use of our food waste, and that of our neighbours, and they more than paid their way by making use of a shady part of our allotment that has never been very fruitful and by laying lots of eggs.
Clara Cluck was the first to shuffle off this mortal coil. After a deceptive recovery from being egg bound (painful!), she made her way to the great chicken coop in the sky. Chandi the black chicken was the next to join her following an eye problem that wouldn't resolve.
Ginger and Yoko (pictured above) eased into a comfortable co-existence for a year and a half, keeping us in precisely enough eggs for all our culinary needs (and obliging when Son wanted to do a photoshoot with them and his Lego minifigure chicken).
This summer poor Ginger, who had been taking things slowly for a week or so but appeared well, stepped out of the hen house and keeled over one morning, right in front of Husband's very eyes.
That leaves the lonely white-feathered Yoko. Dear old Yoko. Now she lives by herself in a coop and abode of very generous proportions for a single chicken, looking hopefully to the jackdaws for friendship (they pop in to the coop to steal the occasional crust of bread) and greeting us warmly when we visit her.
How do you solve a problem like Yoko? Chickens are not solitary creatures. They thrive in a flock but we don't want to replenish our flock until we have refurbished the coop and the henhouse, and given the land a rest. Besides there can be issues with introducing new chickens to an old bird like Yoko.
We've thought about giving her away, but a nearly four year old, non-laying chicken is not an attractive prospect to other chicken owners, and it would probably not be fair on her to try and introduce her into an established flock.
So experienced chicken owners, what should we do?