In my last post I spoke about my joy at having completed some of the huge stone beds in our potagère and how, in celebration, we’d bought some chickens. Wowee! That opened up a can of worms, if you’ll pardon the pun.
The girls were so excited when we went to Jardiland on our way home to pick them out; I’d spoken of a surprise all day. As we went in the shop Lilly was eager to see the chickens in the enclosure there. She always loves to go and look at them; just a year ago she would scream blue murder whenever I had to eventually haul her away. She’d literally stop the shop! She’s growing up so much as, although she was happy to see them, she wasn’t behaving, well, manically, around them.
However, when the woman came over to get them and Lilly realised something different was happening she became so ecstatic. She was literally jumping up and down on the spot. She couldn’t get any more words out except for ‘This, this, this’.
As I took the trolly to the cash register everyone in the vicinity was laughing, delighted at her delight. She was climbing on the bars of the trolly to take a look in the boxes, in little girl heaven.
We managed to get them home and I had to sort out the food, water, nesting box etc before putting the cluck clucks in the coop. Here’s a video of their introduction….
Then as I shut the door to the coop disaster struck. The uprights holding the gate and wire fencing are made of concrete, but they were evidently too old as when I closed it one broke. I couldn’t believe it. Two chickens in a broken coop!
I managed to temporarily fix it and we all went in, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t sleep at all that night. Fear of the cluck clucks being taken by some fox in the middle of the night gripped me. How would I explain that to the kids? Ruby’s set of Role Dahl books with their fantastic Mister Fox took on a whole new, sinister meaning.
I’d been praying all night for an idea to mend the coop when I found myself wandering into the spare room. There was an unused iron bed base and I realised it was the size of the door space.
For the next three days I lugged that bed base between the coop and the shed, trying to work out how to use it as a secure gate. There were many trips to the bricomarché I can tell you.
Each night, desperate to keep the chickens safe and for some sleep, I had to move the chickens from the weakened coop to the bathroom in the studio apartment we have next to our house.
During our first such transportation Ruby watched me pick up the chickens to take them inside. She was fascinated by my holding them and after some time she plucked up the courage – maybe she would try holding them too? Just as I handed her to her Lilly let out one of her excited squeals and the chicken, frightened, flapped her wings.
The opportunity was gone. Ruby had decided, no, holding a chicken was not for her. “Maybe, Mummy, when I’m your age I’ll hold a chicken.”
Closing the door on the chickens in the bathroom I couldn’t help but remember the stories of my grandfather’s set of chickens, given to him by an old lady on his milk round. They lived in the bathroom too, and their feet had grown deformed from clinging onto the side of the bath.
Was history repeating itself? Would I too psychologically damage my children for life serving up their favourite chicken for Sunday lunch one week?
“I want a leg Dad.”
“I want a leg too Dad.”
“There’s only one leg.”
Ours are layers, not cookers.
As the days wore on and I dragged the bed base around the garden some more, my body becoming more and more tired, along with the same process each night. Pick the kids up from school. Walk them home. Get them dinner. Go into the garden to get the chickens in. Chasing round the garden to grab the dog, to keep him away from the chickens. Being surprised by the reappearance of the dog, let out by Lilly, as I held a chicken in my arms. Trying to get the dog back away from the other chicken with my feet, original chicken still in my arms.
I won’t tell you how chickens express fear. You can guess.
Then, on another half hour drive away to Bricomarché, I came across another dog. A Yorkshire terrier was in the road, obviously lost and tired. I’m English, I couldn’t leave her there. So I had to chase her down and as the Maire was closed she joined the circus that had become my life.
Finally the dog was given to the Maire, the coop was completed, the chickens were permanently placed inside and I managed to sleep.
Ruby’s talking about a black chicken now. And some ducks. I need a drink.
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