I used to keep chickens, having inherited a dozen or so when I moved into a house in the country. Some were brown, some were white, those lovely big chickens that lay lovely big eggs. They were daft as brushes, all of them, with barely one brain between them. They pooped everywhere and scratched up the lawn (well it was just a grass patch by the time they had finished!) The ‘girls’ never got names, but the great big white rooster we named Brian, because he had the ‘life of Brian’ surrounded by his harem of girls! We were woken every morning by him crowing, and it was quite a pleasant start to the day. Ah, the good life I thought.
Well, I was a novice chicken keeper, hadn’t got a clue, and ‘the girls’ ran around the property laying their eggs under bushes willy nilly, and occasionally breakfast was ruined because one or more of the eggs had gone bad because it hadn’t been found in time. I fed them corn recommended by the feed store, and one day I caught my small son sitting on the grass with several of them crowding around him while he helped himself to their food, and thought it was time they were kept in a coop.
A handyman was engaged, and a robust two-storey affair with chicken wire walls eventually appeared in the garden and the chickens were rounded up into their new home.
Not long after this, we had a hurricane - I knew something was up as the corn I was scattering for them got whipped away before it got a chance to hit the ground, and besides being very frightening with debris flying all over the place, it scattered the chickens as well, who had all escaped over the (roofless) fence of their coop into the neighbouring trees to weather out the storm. But dear old Brian stoically sat in the coop on a handful of eggs that had been abandoned by the fleeing ‘girls’, as if to say, well someone has to stay and look after them!
We then found out the hard way that Bantams are evil. The kids at school had incubated some fertile chicken eggs for a Science Fair, and on the due day, a clutch of chicks emerged, all cute and fluffy. I adopted them after the science project was over as the teacher in charge didn’t know what to do with them (I didn’t know at the time what sort of chickens they were), and after the fun of rearing them under a heat lamp, they were ready to be released into the coop. This is where I discovered they were Bantams – they were smaller but cruel, wicked, feisty little devils that would peck their bigger cousins till they bled, and sadly the ones who hadn’t escaped were dispatched in due course to the great coop in the sky.
But for a while, we continued to get fresh eggs. Now here’s the strange part – said small son mentioned above grew up without ever liking eggs in any form. I reckon he was traumatized by ‘the girls’ trying to eat the corn he was stealing from them!
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.