Sunday, 14 October 2012

I nearly stole a chicken (or three)

Yesterday, Grandpa Andy and I took Kayleigh to visit a place near Canterbury called Wild Wood. Not wild because it has particular anger management issues, but wild because it is full of wild life like otters, boar and beavers, badgers, bison and deer, wild ponies, red squirrels and wallabies, except Kayleigh insisted on calling them kangaroos (the wallabies, not the squirrels) and Andy was so impressed she knew what a kangaroo was, we decided to let that finer detail slip.

There were storks and herons, owls and egrets, weasels and stoats (no, I shan't do the joke...okay then, I will if you insist...ahem...what is the difference between a stoat and a weasel? A weasel is weasely spotted but a stoat is stotally different!) Of course, the creatures most admired by Kayleigh were the ducks. And she rather liked the pole cats, whom you could see by going underground into their burrow system and watching them through windows that had been cut into the earth. Sensible creatures, they were all curled up asleep, and luckily the window that showed the area of burrow that was full of dead rabbit heads and dismembered chicks was a little above Kayleigh's eyeline so we didn't have any awkward explanations to make re: 'Why is there a rabbit's head in the burrow, Gran, and where did all the blood come from?'

She also liked the wild ponies, especially the foal that spent most of its time scratching its bottom along some barbed wire fencing. Piles? Fleas? I know not, nor do I need to know.

Anyway, despite it being October and a gentle chill settling in the air, and despite the fact that between the sunshine we had been avoiding little showers of rain, the demand for ice-cream came. So off we trotted to find some lunch. And next to the cafe cabin thingy, there was a children's play area and a petting centre. There were goats and geese, rabbits and...and...CHICKENS!

Big old white Sussex hens pottered around with teeny buff Orpington bantams. I spotted a Bluebell and a Barnvelder, a rather handsome cockerel of indeterminate lineage, and some silkies, grey and white and looking very much at home in a Wild Wood with their Wild Hairdos.

'I'll take Kayleigh to play on the swings and slide,' said Andy, and off they went.
'I'll go and find us some lunch,' said I, and stayed and watched the chickens.

I talked to the hens, because one has to. And they talked back. A couple came over and we passed the time of day discussing the merits of a thick woolly jumper over a waterproof coat on a chill Autumn morning, and whether mammoths should be brought back from extinction, and what sort of a Prime Minster Boris Johnson would make.

And all the while I was thinking, 'Those bantams are really small. I could secrete a couple beneath my purple coat. No-one would know. I could carry on clucking to disguise any noise they might make. I mean, I've been standing here clucking for the past 10 minutes; enough people have seen me clucking. They'll think I'm some mad old bat who clucks to herself and they won't give me or my wriggling coat a second glance. In fact, if I up the level and volume of clucking, they'll probably give me a wider berth therefore making the act of chicken liberation even easier.'

Then I thought, 'I could send up an 'Escaped Wolf' alert. Yes, that'd be the thing. I could shout, 'The wolves have escaped! Everyone - run for your lives! Don't worry about the chickens - I'll save them!' And then I could just grab as many as possible and I wouldn't even have to bother hiding them because I would be committing an act of selfless heroism. And it would probably save me a lot on laundry bills, too, especially if I used one of the bins outside the cafe as a chicken carrier.

Alas, I had not the courage of my conviction, because I know Andy would have made me bring them all back with a note of apology, especially now that he has visions of grassy loveliness in his head for the back garden.

Ah well. It was, for a brief half an hour, very lovely to stand in the sun and commune, as in the old days, with chickens.


Eileen said...

I must admit I'm not a huge fan of chickens. But apparently they are far more intelligent than I gave them credit.

Sounds like quite the adventure!

Denise said...

Having kept chickens before, Eileen, I would say their intelligence lies in their sheer craftiness, and I don't mean they can make a mean crochet doily!

They are highly entertaining creatures and great time wasters. I do miss seeing them potter round the garden and will get some more as soon as is humanly possible.

Lovely to hear from you, and hope you are well.

Olly said...

You need chickens, I couldn't be without mine and the garden would be dull without them. Put them on your birthday list!

Denise said...

Oh, I know, Olly. I am currently trying to curry the favour of a robin with handfuls of sunflower seeds. I am quite certain that he sits and calls to me, and I go out with the goods, spread them beneath the apple tree whilst Mr R sits in the willow arch, and then he pops down for his lunch in a most bold way.

Probably a bit rubbish on the egg production front, though!

Hope you are well x