Mandy with Lily's chicks

Mandy cradles Lily’s chicks

We’ve done it! Gretel’s hen, Lily, is a mum!!!

It started as a beautiful idea of the Middletons – Mandy, Neil, Prue and Felix – to honour the memory of their cherished daughter and sister, Gretel, who passed away in 2015 aged just nine. Might it be possible for Gretel’s adored silkie hen, Lily, to have chickens so that her line may continue for generations to come?

One step after another all of us did everything we could to bring this most fitting tribute to Gretel’s memory to fruition. There were so many anxious moments along the way…

  • Would Lily be able to come back to our place to spend time with a rooster? Yes, of course, she was welcomed with open arms.
  • Would Lily settle in happily for her temporary stay? Yes, she accepted every treat I could possibly think of to keep her contented and make her feel at home.
  • Would we have a rooster to be Lily’s mate? Yes, in stepped the very handsome Hero (named for what I wanted him to be).
  • Would Lily and Hero be interested in each other? Were they ever?!! It was love at first sight.
  • Would Lily lay? You betcha! After an anxious wait for the first few days she laid 17 eggs in the time she spent with Hero.
  • Would Lily’s eggs be fertile? Too right! Hero certainly lived up to his name. Of the first nine eggs incubated, eight were fertile.
  • Would Lily’s eggs hatch? No problem, seven chicks not only arrived safely, but they did so right on cue on the birthday of Gretel’s sister, Prue!!!
  • Would one of the Middleton’s other silkies go broody so she could act as a surrogate mum for Lily’s chickens? Of course! The ever-maternal Marley stepped up to the plate and went broody right on time.
  • Would Marely and the chicks bond together? Would they ever??!! Like glue. The new little family is powering along.
Lily in Mandy's arms ready to go home again now she's a mum

Lily in Mandy’s arms ready to go home again now she’s a mum

From the moment Mandy contacted me with this special idea I’ve been longing for two moments; the first was placing Lily back into Mandy’s arms so she could go home again where she is such a powerful connection to Gretel, and the second was seeing Lily’s chicks cradled in Mandy’s hands. Tears and laughter and wonder intermingled freely when both were achieved.



It has been a privilege and a joy to be able to help this beautiful family realise this special dream. And all of us can’t help feeling Gretel oversaw the whole thing.

Filed under Chooks, People, Small Farm Stories