Seeing double

I recently rediscovered the ‘Topsy and Tim’ stories, all about the mundane but somehow exciting adventures of twins Topsy and Tim.  These books, once a favourite of mine, can now be watched on TV.  Feeling nostalgic I thought I would look online for some of the golden oldies, I found and purchased a 1982 copy of ‘Topsy and Tim’s School Play’, identical to the one I had as a child.  On reading it I am transported to a time when life was a little simpler… Topsy and Tim are to be farm animals in their school play, Topsy a goose, Tim a pig.  Practising their roles at home Tim decides to eat like a pig.  In the night Tim has a tummy-ache, the look on Dad’s face as he comes in to a crying child is one I recognise, not a look of concern for their child but the look of a parent who has been woken, yet again! Anyway Tim recovers and the play is a success…. What’s not to like???

Topsy and Tim's School Play (1982)  by Jean and Gareth Anderson .   A classic, well I think so...

Topsy and Tim’s School Play (1982) by Jean and Gareth Anderson .
A classic, well I think so…

This rediscovery got me thinking, have I always seen double?… As a child I loved the Topsy and Tim stories.  My imaginary friends were a same age pair, a girl and a boy called Charlie and Motsy.  Once independent my pets came in pairs, a boy and a girl where possible; Tilly and Archie (cats) became Tilly and Charlie, Primose and Violet (chicks), followed by Iris and Lily, followed by Poppy and Clover… and now I have my very own Topsy and Tim, only with better names.

When I go out and encounter strangers they often say how lucky I am to have twins, a boy and a girl, but luck has nothing to do with it, I believe I was chosen for this journey.  My whole life I have been destined to be a multiple mummy, has my life of doubles been in preparation for the moment I was handed two babies?

And then there was one

Lonesome Lily (

Lonesome Lily (

Sadly Violet is no more…  Lily the lonesome struts around her run, crowing like a cockerel in search of someone to keep her company.

A listening ear?

A listening ear?

During the days following Violet’s demise Tilly, our similarly coloured cat, sat on a wooden toadstool at the end of the run keeping her company.  Tilly never sits there usually, perhaps she could see that Lily was in need of a companion? When this stopped I decided to let Lily completely free range in our garden so she could seek out our company when she needed it, this was not a success as one of my twins developed a taste for chicken poo and Lily had to return to the confines of her run.  We all try and visit her regularly with offerings of raspberries or something equally yummy but although chirpier I fear she is still lonely.

You might think “why has she not gone out and got another chicken or given her away!?!”  Lily was a poorly girl when she arrived with us and the vet suspected she was a carrier of a very serious, sometimes fatal, infectious respiratory disease called Mycoplasma.  When carriers become stressed their symptoms may reappear and spread to other birds.  Introducing her to a new flock or giving her a new friend may cause stress and illness.  My twins are suffering from their second round of tonsillitis in 3 weeks with only 3 days of almost recovered joy in between.  Sleep is a distant memory for us all, so just the thought of sick chickens to care for too is exhausting and frankly impossible.

A recent chat with the chicken vet left us with two feasible options; the safe option is a lonesome Lily or the riskier is a rescue hen that has come to the end of its short working life.  Rescue hens (from colony cages) are extensively vaccinated so in theory should be protected against an outbreak however as they get older the vaccine wears off and she may become more susceptible to future outbreaks.  So here is our dilemma…