“Heeeere chook chook chook!” Hear that? It’s the call of your local chicken keeper.
Have you ever considered having chooks in your backyard? Do you like the idea of your very own flock of feathered friends?
Not only are they handy little food scrap disposal units and great for keeping those unwanted bugs and weeds at bay in the garden but they also make fantastic pets!
Chickens come in a variety of breeds, sizes and colours. They can be very affectionate, entertaining, calming and funny and each one has their own individual personality. They require daily care and if all goes well, can live for up to 15 years. However, if you like your garden to be spick and span 100% of the time, they might not be the right pet for you. We’re talking garden beds emptied of contents, plants upended and stripped of their foliage, oh and poop. Lots and lots of poop. Everywhere. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have seven chooks at home currently, and over the years I’ve had close to twenty. Each one has been different and taught me something new. I love starting every day greeting each of them in the morning as they flap, clumsily, one by one down the ramp from their cozy sleeping box. I get told off in “squawks” and “books” because I haven’t let them out earlier and demand I get their breakfast straight away. Speaking of food, if you’re anything like me and you do decide to keep chickens, be prepared to never eat chicken again…
My fascination and love of chickens started when I was about nine years old. I was asked to look after my neighbours flock when she was away and that was it, I was hooked. After much begging and pestering (sorry mum and dad) I was finally allowed my first chickens. That same neighbour hatched some eggs for me and I had two new babies! My brother decided they were pretty cute so he got the third one. Speckle, Wizz Fizz and Cappuccino (yes, you read those correctly) couldn’t have been more loved. They were cuddled and smothered to within an inch of their tiny, little lives, the poor buggers.
Unfortunately for me, it soon became clear that my two, Speckle and Wizz Fizz were not growing up to be hens... Some squabbles started breaking out amongst our peaceful trio and this quickly escalated to my two trying to kick and peck the living daylights out of each other (and the dog, sorry Charlie). I mean, I know all too well of sibling rivalry but this was something else. It was like they were training to be ultimate fighting champions. This was accompanied by the (very early) morning ritual of what I can only describe as the sound of chickens being strangled. As teenage boys usually go through a little change of voice, so too do teenage roosters as they learn to crow. Dear lord, what an awful sound.
So sadly, as we lived in the suburbs and roosters aren’t very easy to hide, Speckle and Wizz Fizz had to go. My neighbour was taking some of her other chooks to a market and offered to take mine too. It was heartbreaking. Knowing how devastated I was, my neighbour returned with a beautiful black hen for me that I creatively named Liquorice.
Many chickens later, the saga continues to this day. While I do get some eggs from my chooks, this is not the reason I have them. They are loving, intelligent (well, some of them), and bring so much joy.
If you’re thinking of adding chickens to your family, come and have a chat to me when you’re next in store, I could talk chickens all day!
- Claire, Mother Hen