coming home to roost….

We have chickens.

I am not yet convinced, of our readiness for a dog.

I tried to convince the children that we already have pets. They ask where??? What Pets do we have? I point towards the chicken shed where 6 chickens go about their business of pecking at random, through the dirt.

My children inform me, in no uncertain terms, that chickens are not PETS!!! Hamish argues that the chickens are food.

What the???

We don’t eat them, these chickens are not food. As the discussion unfolds their argument or mainly Hamish’s is… that if they lay eggs which we eat, then they are not Pets. This is laughable Hamish only eats eggs if they are in a CAKE!!!

My argument to them is…. that they- as in the three of them, are not ready for a pet as they don’t reliably look after the chickens with water and grain, as it is. For Shane and I to get them to take the scraps down to the chickens (which are NOT Pets but food) is worse than any High Court of Australia battle. It takes forever for there to be an outcome!!!

I choose to not bring up the several other chicken incidents that have occurred over the past 9 years, that would further demonstrate my point -that to have a pet, you must show a level of care and responsibility.

When Hamish was three, I found him down in the chicken shed. These poor chickens! They were only new to us, and they had only in the last week started to come out and explore their run, they were being accosted by Hamish.

This is what I saw. Hamish was inside the chicken shed wrestling a hose at full pressure. There he was with five chickens in a line like a police line-up, all up against the chicken wire. Their wings were splayed out on the fence as the water thumped into their feathers. I grabbed the garden hose and kinked it off, in an attempt to rescue these chooks from their 3 year old water torturer.

“Hamish what are YOU doing?”

“Mummy, they were dirty”

“Sweetie, they are chickens”

I checked for eggs along the fence line. It would not have surprised me if these poor hens popped out an egg or too under those harrowing conditions.

Chicken incident number two. Hamish was seven. It was his turn for chooks on this particular week (the boys rotated weekly with certain jobs). I asked him “have you locked up the chooks, he said that he had, yet the door was wide open. I continued getting dinner ready, I looked again out the window and still the chook shed door was wide open.

“Hamish go and shut that door right now” I yelled.

Finally he went and attended with great joy to the task that was asked of him.

It wasn’t until the next morning, that I noticed a rather large collection of white feathers in front of the chicken shed. OH MY GOD!!!! I felt a need to pray. To pray for the souls of the recently departed chickens. I am a catholic, surely there is a patron saint for chickens. I would have to direct my thoughts to Saint Francis of Assisi until I could find a more chicken specific saint.

However, my prayers would have to wait. I was more compelled to get down to the crime scene with plastic shoe covers over my boots so that I wouldn’t contaminate the evidence. There had been a mass murder here at our little house on the hill. How had it happened?

Oh…. poor Hamish- he did what I asked him however, due to his lack of compliance ( I asked him twenty times- which he ignored,) in the end I just yelled at him to lock the gate, which in his defence he did- but surely you would think that he would check that the chickens were home. Looking at the feathers on the ground in front of me- apparently not.

As I recall these incidents I am seeing a theme- Hamish seems to have a like only for chickens if they are barbequed.

I don’t want to paint a picture that Hamish is cruel to animals there is no malicious intent with his actions, perhaps it is a genetic flaw. I was involved in an incident with a cat in 1994. I was riding a bike in the city with my host brother when I saw a cat.

Not a cat lover, I was very surprised at my reaction to seeing this particular cat. I think my excitement was due to the fact that I had been in Germany for four weeks and I had learnt the word ‘cat’. Once sighting this feline, I was like a fresh talking toddler “Hey Katze!” I yelled. But the surprising thing or perhaps the most alarming, was that I then rode towards it- at speed.

I fully expected that my approaching it on two wheels would make it turn and run away, like normal cats, like Australian cats. (How I thought that I don’t know, as I had never ever previously spotted a cat then bolted towards it on my treadly). But, alas it did not move. I ran over it not once but twice, the front tyre, then with my back tyre.

This was not the impression that I wanted to make with my new host family. I don’t even want to know what he was thinking. I had already replayed it my mind at least 4 times and it didn’t look  good.

So surrounded in chicken feathers as I was. I would not be judging Hamish for this chicken encounter.

P.S I am still not 100% sure if there are enough people in the household qualified to look after a dog. I think I would feel better knowing that there was a Patron Saint of dogs. You can never have enough backup.


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