Monday, 3 February 2014

Chicken Tikka and a Slice of Humble Pie

Our grand old lady, the last of our hens died a couple of weeks ago.  Chicken Tikka, despite being dubbed ‘the immortal chicken’ hopped off to the great scratching ground in the sky.  She was ten years old, and the feistiest old bird you could imagine.  She wasn’t afraid of anything.  Dog, cats, kids: they all received a ferocious peck if they got too close.  She used to stand on the grass and watch as I thundered towards her with the petrol mower.  You could imagine her spitting baccy as I approached; it was me and the mower who’d have to change course.

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...

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