Fowl play as chicken adoption a bloody affair
THE RILKOFF FILESMATT RILKOFF
All the blood was unexpected. It covered my hands, the bathroom sink was a murder scene, my coffee table peppered with deep red coagulated drops and there were even rusty smeared fingerprints on my bedroom curtain. All of this was unexpected and something for which I am completely without blame. Blame for the blood is with the chickens.
Five days ago they were not even my chickens. They belonged to my father. But he didn't want them because after a lifetime of believing eggs were quite possibly portals to the fountain of youth, he didn't eat them much any more.
"You take the chickens," he said.
There is a necessary gap between agreeing to take chickens and actually taking them. This is because chickens are evil animals. Were I to just dump my father's three in with my own two it is likely one of them would be horribly injured; but even more probable, the world would simply end in what is commonly known as an Apoultalypse.
I know this because I believe what obviously insane people write about introducing chickens flocks in online poultry discussion threads. From even a brief perusal of these bastions of mental instability I know chickens must be introduced to each other slowly.
They must have their own parallel food, water and shelter where each can see the other is no better or no worse off than them. And if you do this, after about three weeks you will apparently be able to merge two chicken flocks into one glorious egg producing entity.
So on Monday, I cordoned off a section of my own chicken run and built a temporary coop out of plywood and wind-break netting. It wasn't pretty, its stylings more suited to a home that also has three car bodies on its front lawn, but it was necessary and by that afternoon I was ready to get the chickens.
It is worth noting my father was sceptical about my ability to catch his chickens as, even though he had raised them from chicks, they were completely feral. To get around this I had planned to take them at night when they were asleep but in my naive impatience I decided to get them while the sun was up. It was a mistake and the blood began to flow almost immediately as they pecked and scratched their way through my fumbling attempts to catch them.
After about 10 minutes of this Chaplinesque humiliation, the pea-brained chooks tired and could only muster enough strength to scream in a fashion I expect humans employ when they are being murdered. But as I stuffed them into the fish bin to transport them home I felt a wave of triumph which allowed me to forget about the deep bleeding scratches on my hands or the fact the neighbours were about to call the police and report a homicide.
Back at Brooklands, things didn't calm down at all. As I took each one out of the box, clipped their wing and set them free, they crowed murder once again. They kept up their panic clucks well past sunset so by the time I was chopping up onions for dinner I was really feeling the strain. In my stress and distraction, I cut a sizeable slice off the end of my ring finger. In the ensuing panic to find the three bandaids I knew I had somewhere in the house I managed to spread blood all over the bathroom floor, walls and sink. By the time I fashioned a bandage out of handy towel and duct tape, I was in a scene not dissimilar to something Jack the Ripper might feel at home in.
Half an hour later I sat down in front of the TV to eat my dinner the blood came again. The pressure of using a knife and fork overwhelmed the handy towel and red droplets began appearing on my plate and coffee table. It really was revolting.
The next morning things did not improve. My original chickens rose early and immediately entered into a state of agitation. In a bid to end both their torment and that of my sleeping neighbours I ran out and opened the gate to give them space. This is something I have done about 726 times but on this occasion I somehow impaled my thumb on a piece of wire protruding from the top of the gate. It went right through and it was quite an effort to yank it free.
It didn't seem so bad then, but in the 30 seconds it took me to wander back inside my hand was covered in warm, thick blood, which I only noticed when I pulled back the curtain to let light into my bedroom. Three days later that bloodied hand print is still there. I'm not sure how to deal with it or even if I want to. After all, the next time I think about increasing my flock it may be healthy to have a reminder of the true cost of saying "no" to battery eggs.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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