Son-the-elder was philosophical; she’d had a good life. He asked if we’d be getting more hens, but when I mentioned the great mite disaster, he was disappointed but accepting of my declaration we were never keeping chickens again. Not so son-the younger.
At first he was indignant. “Why?” He asked when I told him Tikka had died, followed by “can we get a new one?” No way, I said.
He protested all evening. “Why? It’s not fair. I want a new chicken Chickens are cute.” (his current obsession is with all things ’cute’)
I was a rock in the face of this barrage, hard and unyielding. No, I said. No more chickens. No no no.
And to prove my point, I gave away the henhouse. Yeah, I said to friends and neighbours, anyone who would listen, it’s free to a good home. But I felt really sad the day it went, when I cleaned it out and rounded up all things chicken for its new owners.
You see, I miss Tikka. I miss her strutting around. I miss seeing her running down the garden to see if I’ve got food. I miss hearing her coming in through the back door clucking for titbits. I miss the host of wild birds, the pheasants, pigeons and magpies who used to visit the garden to pinch her food; even the sparrows seem to be shunning us now. There is a yawning space where she used to live at the bottom of the garden. And when I spent yesterday gardening, there was a chicken-shaped gap - no one scuffling around me looking for bugs and worms.
No more chickens, I said. But I could kick myself now for being so adamant, so quick to give away the henhouse, so hasty to broadcast the end of my chicken-rearing days. Because I can see I’m going to have to eat a large slice of humble pie. I know I’m going to wind up getting more hens. But there's one more thing I'm going to have to do besides save up for a new henhouse.
I'm going to have to find a way to stop son-the-younger thinking pester-power wins the day!
|Not the best picture, but she was a gorgeous old bird. And no, she hadn't just laid a football...|