`You can’t gift wrap a chicken so I did not have the element of surprise.
I do have a magician friend and I suppose were he to have lived locally, he could probably have taught me the slight of hand necessary to produce a flapping bantam from my trousers. But alas he lives in Bedford and what’s more, I dislike living poultry in my underpants. Always have.
So no big SURPRISE. We had talked on and off for years about keeping chickens, so the subject matter was nothing knew. My change of heart was. A 10 year turn around from:
Her: Can we get some chickens?
Her: I want another baby.
Me: How many chickens are we talking about?
And so it was that on an inconsequential day in August I furnished my wife with 4 chickens; a chicken coop and the where-with-all to supply me with scrambled eggs on toast in bed for years to come. All in a neatly wrapped trip to Newland Poulty. Happy 40th darling.
Living with chickens: in my mind
A dark haired woman catwalks into a well-kept garden wearing a dressing gown and Hunter wellies. A flash of thigh. Young children dance at her heels, each carrying an egg basket, each looking like her. Chickens with beautiful feathers cluck and bustle as expectant children with outstretched hands loving proffer seed. The chickens peck, the children giggle, the woman smiles warmly. All is well in the world. Hearing their mother, the children race over to peer inside, as she lifts the lid of the expertly hand built coop. Their faces are warmed by the glow of many eggs. Their hearts are lifted. God is good.
Forget that. Don’t fall for it like I did. Chickens lie. People that have chickens lie.
Stick this in your face hole:
Living with chickens: in my garden
A dark haired woman hobbles out into the rain, squashing down the backs of her husband’s trainers; trainers that she is only partly wearing. Partly wearing because she is too lazy to put them on properly, so she uses them like clogs, even though she could put her tiny feet in them without even bending down or undoing the laces. He shouts loving from the kitchen window, suggesting that perhaps she COVER HER OWN SHOES IN CHICKEN SHIT?
Two lawless children tear-ass round the garden terrifying 4 chickens. The smaller of the two, with surprisingly fast reactions for her age, manages to catch one of the chickens and elevate it by it’s tail. As it flaps and squawks she retains her vice like grip and maniacal laugh. Three alternate chickens hide in the bushes longing for the safety of a battery cage. God is an angry God.
With her dressing gown trailing in the mud, a wet and bedraggled woman lifts the lid on a coop (a coop she’s already managed to break). As she does so she shouts at a boy for kicking a chicken feeder right up the chicken run. He starts to cry. Peering into the coop, the cupboard is bare, there are no eggs. There are no eggs because the four chickens that the woman was bought for her 40th birthday seem intent only on shitting, digging up the garden and pecking on the glass of the summer house, as the man inside tries to meditate.
There are no eggs in the fridge either because somebody didn’t do the Tesco order in time. As a result, he can either walk to the corner shop or have toast for his breakfast. Irritated does not even begin to describe him. She tries to gently appease, informing him that the chickens now trembling at the bottom of their garden are 16 weeks old, and that chickens don’t actually start laying eggs until sometime around 18 to 25 weeks. He considers renouncing Vegetarianism and Buddhism and throttling four feathery necks.
Living with chickens: in the city
So things have improved. Slightly. Two out of the four chickens are now laying eggs. Four out of the four chickens are still pooing everywhere and destroying the garden. So my wife has come to a compromise. Half of the garden (HALF) has been appointed Chicken City and to celebrate, I have spent £100 buying ‘specialized’ urban chicken fencing, from a ‘specialist’ urban chicken supplier. I was informed of this after the event. I really need to change my PIN number.
Upon receipt of the specialized chicken fencing, Wifey sheepishly text me at work to inform me (ahead of returning home in a mood) that in fact it’s not that specialized and in actual fact, resembles a lot of string and some cheap plastic poles.
I am happy to report however that this is now of total irrelevance, because since spending a Sunday three weeks ago erecting the borders to Chicken City, it has now been decided by Wifey that £100 of string does not have the appropriate aesthetic, and thus I am now required to build a proper fence; with fence poles, panels, a gate, a sunken fox proof mesh and a ********* chicken weathervane on top. All at my own expense. I have probably already ordered all of the components off the internet. While I was at work. I REALLY need to change my PIN number.
Living with chickens: in reality
So things have got worse. SLIGHTLY. Two of the four chickens are still laying eggs. But one of those chickens laying eggs has contracted bird flu. Not actual bird flu I am hastily informed by the vet that I have recently paid £40 to. Our little chicken has a sore throat and a blocked nose. £40 for a 10 day course of chicken Strepsils. God know how much a first class ticket to Nottingham is for a chicken? I REALLY need to change my wife.
Please bear in mind however, that all of this is the upside. If these £40 tablets don’t work, said chicken will require an expensive injection to save her life. This injection will render her eggs inedible. FOREVER. God is a chicken.
Week: 10,11,12,13,14,15,16, infinatum
I am afeared. This madness shows no signs of abating. Wifey is already planning an extension to the coop (!) and to buy MORE chickens (!) She wants a coop she can walk in without having to bend down. Apparently bending down is SO last year? It would not surprise me in the least if an order is raised for under floor heating and porcelain roosting bars. Perhaps she intends to hire the services of a chicken whisperer? Or a chicken counsellor? Yesterday she informed me that she wants to adopt ex-battery hens i.e. hens with issues. Hens that turn up all nervous and featherless. Probably resolute to never let an egg pass their bottom again.
Living with chickens: in the red
There is a calculation one does before purchasing chickens. How much will I save in buying eggs versus the initial outlay and up keep?
By my reckoning, if I get a second job and work until I am 70 years old, the chickens will be long dead and I will still be paying off their ******** housing costs and ****** vet bills.
For your information, I did not think this chicken thing through.
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