Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Goodbye Dolly

This was a great day. Dolly was the best behaved chicken during the book’s photo shoot. She was in a deep state of broodiness and she did whatever we wanted her to do. The Jello Summer Party Treat did get her attention though. Not surprisingly, it got Oyster Cracker’s too!

I am finding it so difficult to write this because there is so much to share and say and I just can’t find the words. I can’t seem to get it all out in the way that I want. I can’t seem to convey what I feel. My blog is full of her stories and my heart is full of her memory. I had to say goodbye to Dolly.

I’ve been home for three days.

Each day, I have found myself on auto pilot with the chickens, filling their feeders, tossing out scratch, replenishing the water and looking for Dolly. I have had to remind myself that she is gone.

I cannot even begin to describe the profound sense of loss I have felt for the past few days since I made the choice to put her to sleep. Her body had finally given out. She could no longer walk and her appetite was waning. The hardest part is that she was still fully alert.  Each day I would watch her struggle to reach me in the morning. Tipping from side to side it was painful just watching. Her feet no longer worked and seemed to be frozen in position. But no matter what, she still wanted to greet me each day and spend time with me. Over the years, we had formed the most unexpected and sweetest of friendships.

Dolly has always had a special place in my heart. I guess you could say that she was one of my favorite hens and I was incredibly blessed that she lived with us for so long. Over the years, I watched her mother everything that she could get her “hands” on. She practically lived in a perpetual broody state. She hatched her own chicks. She took to new chicks from the feed store. Dolly wanted to mother everything. She walked around doing baby chick coos and little chatter even when babies were not around. I swear sometimes I would catch her talking to invisible babies as she discovered scratch in the run. She knew her name and she was kind to everyone, Even though many could not understand the broodiness, I could. Her heart was full of love and she wanted to share it. We called her the DollyMama.

I never really would have believed that it would be possible to love a chicken. In fact, 10 years ago I probably would have thought I was crazy too. But I can tell you that I loved her. Through the sobs and plenty of tears, the loss and pain runs deep. I suppose I had been in denial. I wanted Dolly to live forever.

Sometimes the hardest decisions we ever have to make are those of pure acts of unselfishness.  I can honestly say that I love deeper because of Dolly. She made me look more closely at the little things in life. She taught my children many lessons about dedication, family, patience, and respect. For that and those I will be forever grateful.

Dolly, I hope you have found peace. I hope that you have found a full nest of eggs surrounded by tons of baby chicks that were taken too soon from this life.

I owe you a heap of gratitude. I will never forget your friendship and your love.

Until we meet again…

Photo Credit: Keller and Keller

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

  • Hugs.. And more hugs.
    Our feathered, furred, and finned friends enrich our lives. And we, in turn, care for them..often in ways others cannot understand. Dolly knew she was loved, and lived a long and happy life. You are a wonderful chicken mom..

  • *HUGS* I'm so sorry. I'm a new chicken mama and I already feel a strong bond with a couple of them. I was in tears reading your post. Thinking of you and Dolly today.

  • I hear you! I have a hen that is also near and dear to my heart. Her name is Bessie. She came to us through a friend. And I have told everyone, if and when she dies, I am going to have her stuffed. I feel your pain. Take heart, things will get better, but Dolly will always be with you in spirit.

  • Oh this made me cry! I have never had chickens, although I want to, but I imagine the bond is no different than the ones we have to dogs and cats. Sounds like Dolly was a natural mom, but also sounds like you carefully mothered her over the years. She learned from the best 🙂 xo

  • I'm so sorry for your heavy heart. I know she is watching over you and will be bringing you new chick souls to nourish. God bless…

  • cheryl muphy

    Oh My I am so sorry. I am sitting here with an heavy heart feeling your pain. I can imagine what feel.I believe that you are right that she is with a large nest of chicks that she is so happy mothering them. Just remember she is not far and she is watching over you and your flock You will always feel her presence for she is with you always. Sorry for you loss

  • I am so touched by your post. I recently incubated 8 chicks. Sadly, 7 pipped but did not hatch. I took the beautiful chicks from their shells and buried them yesterday. Today, I am happy to know they are with DollyMama. Thank you for sharing through your loss. Keeping you in my prayers.

  • I just started doing research because I'm seriously thinking about raising some chickens in my backyard. I came across your blog this afternoon and read your post about your sweet Dolly. It had me welling up. Thank you for sharing what must be a very personal, sad time in yoru life.

  • I think Dolly would like her tribute. The special ones never totally leave… I hope the best parts of her life stay in your heart and in your thoughts. I hope the sadness, when you think about her, will continue to be a reminder that every life is precious and has value and deserves to be cherished every single day <3

  • Anonymous

    I sobbed all the way thru your post. I too have a "Dolly". Thanks for sharing your story. Your words really touched me.

  • What a sweet, personal and loving post of your dear Dolly. It made me cry. My husband always says we will see our pets again and I see you believe the very same thing. Dolly had a good chicken mama. Bless your heart! xox

  • Blessings. I've lost some too some very dear. It hurts but I think in special cases like your Dolly they are worth the sorrow.

  • What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • I'm sorry for your loss. I found your blog from the chicken coop tour and have enjoyed reading your posts about raising chickens. It gave me a new perspective on chickens as pets when you talk about your hens and their personalities and affection. I hope you'll be well.


  • I am so sorry for your loss. Dolly sounds like an amazing chicken friend. You both were so blessed to have each other. 🙂

  • I have read many of Dolly's stories on here and I wanted to pass on my condolences and hugs to you. She brought many people joy but from the sound of it you made the right decision, its always a hideous one to make and it takes a brave person to do the right thing. My thoughts are with you.

    Jerra xx

  • I cried for you and your loss of your Dolly, too. She was a Wonderful Momma. You BOTH were blessed to have each other in your lives. May you find peace and comfort.

  • I'm sending my love to you and your flock .. Yes, you did her justice … Clearly … I'm so sad for your loss…you give all of is who love our feathered friends much hope and love…that there are people with huge hearts …. .

  • Anonymous

    I am so very sorry. I hope your heart heals with the memories of her sweet soul taking the place of the pain from losing her. I do believe she will always be with you, I really see no difference in the love or loss from human to animal, love is love, losing them hurts us deep in our soul, more than most can describe. Peace. roberta augustini

  • Melissa, I am so very sorry for your loss of Dolly. I know the pain, and it is very real. These little feathered friends really work their way into our hearts, don't they? But we are better because of it. Dolly had a wonderful life with you and so many chickens aren't lucky enough to have happiness and peace in their lifetimes. Sending love and hugs your way, friend.

  • So sorry for your loss. I'm dreading the day I loose one of my girls.


  • Melissa, I'm so very sorry about Dolly. Your post made me cry. It was such a sweet tribute. Thinking of you. Best wishes…

  • I'm so sorry about Dolly. I lost my first hen due to my English pointer dog, 3 weeks ago. Lily somehow flew out of her extended run and he got her. The rest of my little flock of 4 others saw this. I wanted to ask you a question and I thought this was a good place. The rest of my little flock have not laid since this happened. They are 3 years old this spring. The one wyandotte has maybe laid 4 eggs but she is the only one. I just wondered if this is normal after such a stress. You can email me at [email protected] Thanks.

  • I am so very sorry that you are hurting but I understand completely. I had Bird, my special needs chick for only a few months and I even surprised myself on how distraught I was. Almost a breakdown. I worked through it by making a Shutterfly book of her, maybe it would help you.