Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Hen nights (and days)

Two chickens have gone rogue. They’ve turned their backs on the batch, shook a tail feather at the flock, set their combs at a jaunty angle and did the walky-flappy thing away because it’s very difficult to march with any dignity when you’re a chicken. They left chicken-opolis with its safe collection of houses, friends and family, and headed for a life where crime is the only way to survive.

Street life for chickens is rough. Actually, let me rephrase that; Street life for chickens is rough—ly akin to a five star gastronomic adventure. They’re loving it! They’ve never had so much fun. Who’d have thought stealing food could make you so fat and happy? Well maybe there’s a reason for that, and maybe I’ve sussed it out.

It starts each day just after lunchtime when I begin by mucking out the first stable and lay a fresh straw bed before moving onto the next. While I’m in the second stable, they move behind me into the first.

Now I know it’s just two chickens in there scratching about between the straw for wheat, but I honestly wonder if their little legs are bionic the way they flick the bed about. By the time I get to chase them out, the horse’s bed looks like a giant doughnut with a massive hole in the middle.

I go off to fill hay nets feeling like I’m in some out of season panto with a crowd yelling, “They’re behind you!” I know they’re behind me! They’re doing the same to the second stable as they did to the first!

For me it’s annoying, for them it’s an appetiser.

Stables remade and doors securely closed, I move on and feed the sheep. I pour nuts and stand back to watch all the white woolly heads buried in the trough… along with the two chickens. The sheep even make room for them!

But you know what it’s like, you have something to eat and you really want a drink. Water’s okay, but there’s got to be something better. And there is. Milk. Honestly I milk the goat, turn my back and the chickens are in the pale drinking it.

Okay, so appetiser done, main course done, nice drink of fresh warm milk done… right, what’s for pudding?

Pig nuts. In case you’re unaware, pig nuts come in sturdy plastic sacks. Nice big strong bags, just the job. In fact they’re so strong it can be a struggle to open them, unless of course you’re a chicken.

I place the sack on the back of the quad bike and go off to collect the rest of the bits and pieces I need. When I return they are standing on the bag (which for a start if the height of bad manners, who ever heard of walking about on the dinner table?), dipping their little beaks into a hole they’ve made and scoffing.

We’re all aware of the obesity issues in this country, and you could argue that these chickens are on the frontline of that in as much as they themselves are food producers – as egg layers. Shouldn’t they be looking after themselves a little more? Do they really need two starters, a huge main course, a large fattening drink and as much pudding as they can cram?

I want to catch them and put them in prison – a large house with a run known as the Love Shack because that’s where the cockerels go when I want to control who their wife-of-right-now is. I figure if I can keep them in for a week or so, it might break this cycle of crime and slim them down a bit. Only I can’t catch them. They’re at large (very large). Fugitives from justice. It’s like living with a poultry Thelma and Louise.