when i was collecting eggs today, i thought I'd bring the ladies some bread crumbs and a soggy bagel. i was sitting with our old RIRs and thought about how we got them, and how their lived had changed so much last summer, about the middle of may, my mother came home with a sad story. one of her co-worker's Grandfather passed away. he had left behind a flock or RIRs, and none of his family could take care of them. they had been alone in the coop for about a week with no-on caring for them. we decided to step in and take whatever survived for meat, as our flock was for eggs, not meat. I built a makeshift pen about 10ft x 10ft with our old dog house as a shelter. I put in straw and a perch for them as well. my mother returned with only 6 survivors out of a flock of 20! they were very thirsty and emaciated. we started feeding them, much more than we fed our "egg flock" they were sickly and didn't have alot of energy. after a few days we decided to let them out of the pen to stretch their legs a bit and perhaps catch some slugs for extra fattening. they began getting more healthy, and while we were checking for eggs in the kennel (they hadn't layed ANY since we had gotten them. we figured they were too old) my boyfriend happened to mention " Jeez, this is like a old-hen retirement home." we began letting them our more regularly, even opening the gate in the morning and closing it at night when they went in to roost. It dawned on me that it had been a month, and we hadn't butchered a single one. I was very glad because i had become very attached to them, and even gave them names. their tattered feathers had become glossy and healthy, and they had become more alert and energetic, and came when i called them to give them a treat. I asked my mom why we hadn't eaten any and she Had a very long explanation. she said she felt like the chickens had a similar life to hers, and deserved to have a loving home. she had grown attached to them as well, and couldn't bare to kill one. i was so happy! i would never like to see my favorite hen (65 yen) on a dinner plate! the next morning, we found 3 eggs! and the day after that 5! by that time we decided to add them to the big pen with our other chickens. every time i see our RIRs, i think about how much their lived had changed, and how they would have starved to death if we hadn't stepped in. i am very grateful that we could have such nice birds. once in a while my Mom's co-worker comes by just to see them and give them a treat or too. she'll come in and have tea with us, and ask us about "grandpa's chickens" since then, we lost 4 of them. we don't know why, but we believe that they simply got too old. we have little graves for them in the back yard near an old willow tree (our pen is in the FRONT yard) to all of the readers out there, thank you for reading the hens that are still alive are 65 yen and copper. Copper stopped laying last week, and i don't think we can expect her to live much longer. thank you for reading!