last updated 5 .3.16
Hatched: 1st March 2012
Weight: over 4 kg
Breed: Barred Plymouth Rock
Current Status: Ornamental
Total number of eggs: ?
Biggest egg: ? g
Smallest egg: ? g
Average weight: ? g
Dorothy was one of two Barred Rock chicks from Poppy’s Summer Septet. She was a gorgeous little penguin, with a white spot under her right eye. Like Holly, she was very friendly as a chick, but grew less cuddlesome as she got older. Sigh!
Remarkably, her name wasn’t chosen because she had a white dot under her eye. Or because she was stripey. She just …seemed like a Dorothy to me. A certain I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto air about her. And far from being shortened to Dot, she is more likely to get her name elongated to Dorothea. (Often sung with an operatic warble – Do-ro-theeeee-eeee-aaaa – it’s very satisfying, and bemuses her no end.)
Dorothy laid her first egg on August 26th, 2012. They were lovely big eggs, although laid slightly less frequent than Holly’s. But we thought she’d make a good mum (big girl!) (lots of fluff!) (did I mention she was big?) should we decide to breed with her, or let her go broody. Except … she’s never been broody. At all.
Dorothy is, I’m afraid, a bit of a toad. She bullies anyone who she can bully. The surprising thing is that she doesn’t bully everyone – she is truly enormous, and should have no trouble. But she’s a coward – emphatically does not like to fight, and will usually run away if challenged. Which unfortunately also makes her a target. Claire in particular often treats her as though she’s a girl with baggy pockets wandering around a store with a shoplifting problem, and prowls after her. (Mind you, the two of them also spend a lot of time sleeping next to each other, so evidently the attention isn’t all unwelcome.)
We had Dorothy living with Lily, Gabby and Patrick. Mostly to keep her away from the pullets (Saffy and Charlotte), who she persecuted. Everything there was fine for a good while. Until it suddenly wasn’t, and Lily decided she was not going to tolerate her any more. We found Dorothy huddled in the corner of the Combine, utterly passive, withLily jumping on her and really going at her. It sounds amusing, but it wasn’t. It was horrible. I suspect that there would have been a corpse if we hadn’t found her when we did.
We tried putting her back in with Lola and the girls, but she went straight back to chasing Saffy, so it wasn’t any sort of solution. In the end she spent about a week living inside in the hospital cage while we tried to work out what we could do with her.
This was around the time we were bopping Poppy’s sons, and umming and ahhing about whether we should keep Stan (as insurance, given Lola’s breathing issues and the fact that we only had one pullet from Poppy). In the end we decided to keep him, and give him Dorothy for company.
She wasn’t thrilled.
In fact, one night she’d managed to escape from the small yard they were in, and scrambled into a pile of prunings and garden rubbish. Stewart discovered her by chance, when he went out to shut the chooks in for the night – heard a noise, swung the torch around and caught a gleam of eyes where there shouldn’t be any. He retrieved her, and tucked her into bed with Stan. What we hadn’t realised was that she’d managed to impale herself on a branch, and created an impressive hidden puncture wound from her lower abdomen right up along her ribcage, under the skin, managing to miss everything vital. But we didn’t realise until quite a few weeks later (15 July 2014), when we discovered her with a massive infection. She went in to the vets straight away, and was operated on the next morning. So she got a break of a few weeks inside, with Adelaide keeping Stan company in her place. We were lucky – she healed extremely well.
And then injured herself again, a few months later. I was sitting in the yard with Stan, Adelaide and Dorothy, and saw I’d got blood on my hand. I panicked, and started examining feet, combs, abdomens and finally bottoms for signs of injury. And there it was – Dorothy had managed to slice herself a two-inch wound directly below her cloaca. No idea what on. (Definitely not Stan’s spurs.) So the following morning (October 20th, 2014) Dorothy was back in to see Auntie Susan, to be sewn up. Again this gave her a break inside for a week or two (which she seemed less enthusiastic about this time around). But again she healed really well and quite quickly, and was back out with the boy in no time.
One side story – when she went in to have her stitches removed, we saw one of the vets I didn’t know (Susan Kirkwood), who was absolutely smitten with her. To the point of asking if she could take some photos, and write down the details of what she was and who had bred her. Which made me look at Madam Dorothea again, and properly. Her markings are a bit muddy (‘cuckoo’ is the technical term), but she really is quite an impressive hen. Big, fluffy, buxom. Black rock chicks from her and Stan should be very impressive indeed!
Except … she hasn’t laid an egg since. Not one.