Quail diary

Quail for eggs — life in a London garden

Quail diary – 105. Death in the afternoon

with 6 comments

Today is the longest day, and yesterday two of the quail were found dead in their run. Harass and Oeuf. Harass was still warm, stretched out in a comfy hollow in the grit. Lost in eternal dust bathing. There was no blood.

Oeuf too lay at peace, further back, out of the sun. I don’t think her death was as easy – she was very thin, but then she had had two months beyond her span. Maybe I should have wrung her neck way back in April, when she first lost the use of one leg, but she seemed perfectly happy hopping about on one  wing. The others didn’t bully her. She groomed the bits she could reach and I bathed her bum, which she couldn’t. Perhaps she wasn’t eating the dandelions and lettuce I threw in beside her. But she was drinking and calm. I let her be.

All the books say hen quail don’t live that long, two years is average. These were a month short of three years old. Geriatric. Between them they’ve laid me nearly 2,000 eggs. It is time to stop. (Even Katie Thear has died since I started this experiment armed only with her excellent guide. Thank you, Katie. I couldn’t have done it without you and all the other sage coturnixers.) Now there’s only Emmet and Tom left – calling sadly at the bottom of the garden.

The hutch looks horribly empty. “We are seven…” as the poet said.

Do I start again?


6 Responses

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  1. Aw, it’s strange how they go in twos isn’t it? Cleggover died in his new home with one of his wives a couple of weeks ago. RIP little quailies!

    Flora Fauna Dinner

    June 21, 2011 at 6:47 am

  2. Awww I’m so sorry for the loss of your two little ladies. Sat here with my morning coffee and tears in my eyes, even though they aren’t strictly pets, you can’t help getting so very attached. Something about their delicate markings and pretty faces always makes them look so vulnerable somehow.
    Sounds as though they were happy right up to the end though and you couldn’t ask for more than that.

    My set up wasn’t really geared so well to keeping quails, Dotty was an unexpected addition one winter morning, and Freckles followed largely for company as I felt so sorry for lonely Dotty. They both did well though, and as you have a far superior set up, I would get some new youngsters and start again.

    (I let Dotty and Freckles go, they have gone to a very, very good home with a chap who breeds all kinds of ornamental birds. Dotty did turn out to be a him, funny, I miss him more than Freckles and she was laying at the rate of two a day some days!! Even though they haven’t died, and I know they are being cared for so well, and are having a brilliant time ((they are with ten others in the hugest run, loads bigger than the hutch and run set up I had them in)) I still mourn their absence.)

    Big hugs to you,

    Caz xxxxx


    June 21, 2011 at 7:30 am

  3. Oh, I’m so sorry. Poor Harass and Oeuf, but at least they had dignified and gentle ends – you gave them that. I feel sorry for those left behind; it must be so lonely for them. And poor old you.

    Their strong personalities shone through in your journal and I’d like to thank you for sharing your quail adventure with us. It’s made me laugh (a lot) and cry (hard), and I’m so glad you decided to write about it.

    Should you get more? What does your gut say? I don’t think you should put pressure on yourself either way. Keeping animals as pets or livestock requires a huge investment in time, energy and, usually, emotions. What do you really feel like doing? I have to say that whatever you do decide I REALLY hope you decide to keep a blog about it. You have a great gift for writing and I’d love to follow whatever happens. I also think that the Quail Diary would make a great book.

    Do let us regular diary readers know if you start a new blog. I hope Emmet and Tom have a while left. It will be a sad day when the deluxe quail hutch is empty.

    Alison Jackson-Bass

    June 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

    • Dear Alison,
      What lovely a response. As I write Emmet and Tom are still calling mournfully. Harass stood guard all the time, being the one on the look-out and was always first to check out whatever I was up to. I think they feel insecure…
      Not sure what I think. Just glad I didn’t have to kill them myself, I guess.


      June 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      • Wish you were nearer (not least because I want to have tea and cake with you) because I have way too many here and am planning on foisting a breeding group of 9 onto a fellow Quail Covener soon. If you fancy making a 1,000 mile round trip to pick them up then you’re welcome to overnight in my spare room! : )

        Flora Fauna Dinner

        June 22, 2011 at 7:24 am

      • Ahhh. What a lovely offer! (particularly the tea and cake, and the spare room). Yes, it would be great to adopt some of yours – particularly as yours have such excellent colours. Poor old Tom is still calling, mournfully. I can hear her from the loft. I must do something soon. Still not sure what. Problem is probably that most people just strangle (and eat) their surplus quail. Can’t think why. Very sorry to hear of your deaths. Cleggover particularly will be missed.

        And PS I love the blog makeover. Just forgot to say. Keep writing. I’m afraid the 1,000 mile round trip may have to wait. We are currently wrestling with woodworm and wet rot. I’ve spent the past fortnight with a builder in the house. On the plus side, he did let me have a go with his Kango, ripping up all the concrete up the side of the house which had bypassed the Victorian damp course and caused the rot… Like butter. Boy toys!!

        Best wishes Jay


        June 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm

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