Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm Going Out of Chooks

I've had chickens and the associated dramas for twenty years. It all began with inheriting some chickens with a house I moved into. I've undergone every chicken owners' class in the theology/theory/philosophy of chook pens. (Ask a chook person. Go on. If you think I'm being kooky then you are not a chook person and need to know these things. Invite them home, get them on the couch, make them a cup of tea and then ask them. They are not scary people or weird or from a cult.They just get chooks.)

At present I live with a cat and four chickens all inherited from Mum/Bob/Stormboy/Sal. None of them are mine, in fact few fur or fowl I've lived with are critters I've specifically gone out to acquire. They just end up at my place. The rooster from that initiation into chookery was a surly bastard who thought he held some sort of title, seeing as he'd inherited me. My daughter did not feed him wheat fast enough, it seemed. She was feisty even at two and would not succumb to his bullying in the chookpen. But two year old children are close to the ground. I saw him jump straight into the air (I thought; 'I've seen that rooster move somewhere'.) before he slashed her face with his chookpen spur. Fucker. She's still got the scar under her eye and he was tough as a boot in the pot.

I've seen and participated in nights of murder.

'Cause there's nothing strange 
about an axe with bloodstains in the barn. 
There's always a bit bit of killing 
you've got to do around the farm.'
Tom Waites

Dark, dark stuff of chicken theology aside, chickens are also the key to true happiness. Feeding happy chickens is akin to watching goldfish, except that chickens are always happier than goldfish. Momemts of feeding chickens are the existentialist's dream (eggsistentialist, perhaps?). When buying wheat recently, I mentioned my chicken happy theory to the girl at the counter of the stock feeds shop. She said, "Well that is all very well for you! My last customer said the two things that make him very unhappy are - 1. Combing his hair and 2. Going into the chookpen with his socks on.

Anyway, the whole point of tonight's post is to say that I am finally going out of chickens. Recently a pair of dogs culled half the flock and that was a traumatic event. I'm moving to a place out in the bush that is not conducive to scratching about and planning to become a lot more nomadic (not conducive to scratching about - or building chookpens). So the chickens have to go.

Here is some photos I took tonight of the girls with the resident bandicoot. (For those not in the know a bandicoot is a marsupial who carry their young in a pouch, like a kangaroo.)

 Stormboy and I took the torch and four cardboard boxes up to the chookpen after dark. We shut the gate behind us. "Got the masking tape ready?" I asked him.
"No!" He ran back down the stairs.
 Then I plucked the girls, one by one, of their perch and stuffed them into the boxes. Stormboy taped them over. The squawking was tremendous.
I was a bit proud of Stormboy tonight because the last time we did this, he fell to bits over their protesting. "Just grab them!" I'd say. But he couldn't do it and got all upset.
Anyway, tonight, he was great and we packed the girls into boxes. Then Dad turned up in the ute and took them back to his and Sal's house, where they will see out their retirement ...

Hail, the crone chickens going are home.


  1. Kind of sad but also kind of nice that you are moving on....yes, I loved my chooks but am not in a hurry to take on that responsibility again. Most people don't realise that their egg-laying years pale in comparison to the years of dedication needed to care for them in their dotage - that is if you can't bear to despatch them when they are no longer productive, which I couldn't. Chooks are another part of that romantic self-sufficiency myth that gets quickly shattered if you try and get real about the whole thing.

  2. The crows ate all the eggs anyway. I just liked having them around.

  3. I've been one to romanticize them - having never kept them... but I also know there's a requirement that I can't fulfill to be around for them when they get old 'cause I don't think I could kill them after all that time (or ever, really. I'm not hungry enough currently). Glad you had an alternative for their retirement.

    I hear they can be quite personable and entertaining, hope the next caretaker enjoys them.