Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Companion for Pipke.

A Companion for Pipke.

It was now November 1995. She was now exactly six months old. 
The first signs of Winter were already there. Now we became a little anxious about Pipke's well-being. We were afraid she would become lonely now that we were less outside than in Summer.
Friends of us advised us to take a companion for her.
First we considered to take another duck, but they told us that it was also possible to keep a chicken as a companion for her, sometimes they can become good friends. It would also be much easier for us to keep the little pond clean, because - actually the pond was too small for two ducks.
In fact, in her case it didn't matter which animal we chose because: Pipke had imprinted us as her kind.

Thus, we went to a farm and there we chose a beautiful friend for her: a little hen, a special little species. In Belgium we call it: Antwerpse Baardkriel. In English it's called "Belgian Bearded d'Anvers".

It was a lovely little critter. It had really wonderful autumn colors. It had a beautiful beard which consists of whiskers, starting on the cheeks and extend below the ears to the back of the head. It also had feathers on its little paws. The breed is noteworthy because of their smallness.
It's one of the oldest and smallest original breed we know here in Belgium.

After we came home, we installed the little hen in another ward in Pipke's pen so they could get used to each other, without direct contact (we'd divided the pen in two pieces with a fence).
We could see immediately that Pipke didn't appreciate this. She became very restless and that first evening - for the first time in her life we had a problem to close her pen because she wanted to come back with us, so - we had to reassure her that she was OK.
After a few days of separation, we let them meet without the fence. That went reasonably well, although at first Pipke avoided contact with the hen, but after a while she accepted her (in fact: she rather tolerated her presence). Thereafter the hen began to follow her everywhere!

Fourteen days later, Pipke had already adapted herself to her companion, but then suddenly the hen got sick. She lost much of her feathers, so we had to consult a vet. His conclusion was that she had lost her feathers because she was stressed by the move to another home. Therefore he gave her a vitamins injection and he advised us, to keep her inside because it was too cold for her outside (it was already freezing).
Almost fourteen days we kept her inside our garden house. She was doing better every day, and from the moment she'd recovered, we placed her with Pipke in the pen again.
During the day we let them both explore the garden. 
It was so beautiful to see them both strolling through the garden - picking up bugs and nibbling the grasses.
Now - my hubby had to look for worms for both of them, and sometimes it became a little struggle between them to pick up the worm “first”. Sometimes Pipke became angry because the hen had picked a worm right in front of her beak/nose:), and then she chased the hen away.
Although it never became a close friendship, now they both slept during the day near the backdoor: Pipke in her dogs-nest, and the hen beside the nest, it was such a charming sight. 
Now you can imagine: we had to clean a lot! Now we had “two” little ones that pooed all around the place.
Our days were filled with taking care of them.
When the sun went down the hen went to the pen by herself, but Pipke waited for us to go with her. She quacked loudly when she found it was time to go to sleep.

We went through Winter without any problems. It had been cold – but our little critters were young and they could manage the cold very well.

The hen had always laid little brown eggs, but now – we'd also found a few times a light greenish egg.
(At that moment we didn't realize that these weren't only the hen's eggs.)

With the first signs of Spring we'd noticed Pipke became very restless and also that the hen had become very bossy now. She picked at Pipke, and that was something we wouldn't accept. Therefore, we looked for a new home for the little boss.
The same week, the hen went to a new home at friends of us. There was only one condition: we demanded that they would never kill her.
In fact, it's odd!
Although we loved that little critter very much, we never took a picture of her and now we still regret this. We didn't even give her a name, we only called her: *Chicky - if that's a *name:).

(Therefore - to show you how she almost looked like I will show you a picture of the breed that I found on Google.)

However … after staying there for 6 months at our friends' place “Chicky” became very bossy there too. She chased all the other chickens away, although she was the smallest one of them all.
Therefore, our friends found her another place to stay, and there she was no longer the boss.
She stayed there, and she had a beautiful life.
She died of old age, she became 11 years old.
Now it still gives me a good feeling when I think back of her: “our little bossy thing has had a good life!”
That was what I had wished. My wish was full filled!

In the mean time we discovered that Pipke started to behave totally different.
In fact, we had already discovered earlier that she wasn't at ease when we had visitors who were strangers to her. When she was only four weeks old we had visitors for the first time since she was born. From the moment she heard them she started to quack very loud and as long as she could hear their voices we couldn't keep her quiet. Therefore we had to put her in our garage in her container and there she was at ease.
Although she knew my granddaughter and my son from the day she was born she didn't want them to come close to her anymore.

Here's a picture of her together with my granddaughter. 
She's here not yet 24 hours old.

Before, my granddaughter could play with her, pick her up and cuddle her. Now ( begin 1996) – she picked at my granddaughter when she tried to cuddle her and she even chased her off. This was also the case with my son. 

 These two pictures were taken on the first of January 1996.

Seemingly – Pipke had chosen her “flock”. 
Except for me and my husband, she saw everyone else as her enemy combatant.
How things evolved I will tell you later. 
Then I will go further with: Her First Nest (April 1996).

Thanks for your visit!
Hope to see you again.


  1. what a sweet story about chickie!
    i know those hens and ducks can get pretty bossy pants...seems the smaller they are the bossier they are, lol
    sounds like Pipke was quite protective of her family :)

  2. Chickie was really a droll little critter.
    It didn't turn out the way you think, but in the interest of the story I will not divulge more right now! :)