“You haven’t kept chickens before..?”

The lady asks us over her shoulder, heading towards a bunch of sleek, befeathered show-hens.

“No,” we affirm, absent-mindedly.

The lady bypasses the show-hens with a cackle, and veers towards the deepest depths of the shed.

Shortly afterwards, Short Tony and I are speeding back along the A-road, a half-dozen chickens confined to the dogg cage on the back of his truck.

We discuss our new family, thoughtfully.

“We should decide a few things. Are we going to give them names?” he muses.

“I hadn’t really thought about that,” I reply.

“Maybe we should leave that to the kids.”

“Let’s be clear, though,” I say, resolutely. “No comedy names. Like Gregory, or Princess, or Livingstone, or Ganley. And no bloody post irony, like when people call their cats Chairman fucking Miaow.”

“Fair enough. Can you still see them?”

Short Tony is looking at the rear-view mirror in some alarm. I turn to peer through the glazing at the back of the cab. No chickens whatsoever are visible. I undo my seatbelt and strain my neck. There is no sign of chickens. I have a brainwave and remove my phone from my pocket; reaching up as far as I can, I take a picture through the glass into the base of the load area.

The result is inconclusive.

“I’d better pull over,” mutters Short Tony, indicating for a lay-by. We hop out anxiously and hasten round the back. Six chickens peck away at us from the security of the dogg cage. We are relieved. I give a weak smile to a lorry driver who is staring down at us from his parking space.

“Vets?” asks Short Tony as we continue on our way.

We agree that running up a vet’s bill for a chicken is bad economics.

“And no puns,” insists Short Tony. I nod vigorously in agreement. “No ‘oooh, aren’t they egg-citing!’ or ‘This one is egg-strordinary!’ or that sort of stuff.”

We are reassured that we are both singing off the same hymnsheet on that topic, and subsequently also agree that neither of us will attempt sexual intercourse with one.

“How much were they again…?” asks Short Tony as the truck rumbles on.

“Seven pounds fifty each,” I report. “No V.A.T.”

“Forty five quid,” calculates Short Tony. “That’s a poultry amount.”

We continue the journey in silence.

37 Comments

  1. Sevem pounds fifty? Each? Blimey. We’ve got at least two hundred and fifty pounds worth of poultry in our garden, then. And to think that we’d have given you half a dozen of them, if only you hadn’t been so keen on a smart breed.

    You have got a smart breed, haven’t you?

  2. NAGA - Fowl Fancier

    Seven Pounds Fifty ?!

    You can get two for a fiver at Tesco. They’re a bit small and cramped looking though.

    Please tell me you’ve made the coop large enough for your Cockeral to stretch? There’s nothing worse than an unstretched, bent one. Puts the hens right off laying.

    Happy Chickens Come Home Roostering Day.

  3. Why did you agree not to have sex with them?

    You can get it for less than seven pounds fifty in Leeds town centre!

    G.I.M x

  4. Mate of mine keeps chickens. And doos. And a couple of pigs.

    The doos he hasn’t named cos they keep getting eaten by foxes.

    The chickens all have exotic names that somehow, generally very vaguely, relate to their breed.

    The pigs are called Sausages and Bacon.

    What?!

  5. Actually, I should qualify that. The doos don’t *keep* getting eaten. They get eaten once. Obviously.

    It’s just that rather a lot have…oh, you get the idea.

  6. £7.50? You were done. They’re £4.50 a piece in Frome market. ‘Course probably not as eggciting as those big city chickens you’ve got up there.

  7. Good policy about sex with the chickens — let’s just hope this resolution works out better than the one about puns.

  8. Booooooooo they are not Transylvanian Naked Necks. But they have feathers, not cellophane.

  9. I find that when people sing from different hymn sheets it creates a nice melody.

  10. ‘The lady bypasses the show-hens with a cackle’

    This lady – was she wearing a pointy hat and carrying a broomstick?

    You better check them after midnight to see if they’ve transformed back into potatoes or turnips, or whatever it is you need to need to produce chickens with a magic wand

  11. What the hell are “doos”?

  12. A Norfolk Folk Singer (who will remain nameless for his own sake), in his youth was a cog in the wheels of the Norwich Crown Court. He relates the finest moment of English Justice he witnessed, concerning a charge of Bestiality. Counsel for the Defence successfully arguing the case, the Judge had the charge thrown out Court without further ado. Bestiality is defined as sexual intercourse with “a beast”. A chicken is a Fowl, not a Beast.

    So in Norfolk, it is OK but please keep it consensual.


    Submitted from the trenches facing the Suffolk border, I am Duke Henry Plantagenet.
    History Fair – be there! http://www.historyfair.co.uk

  13. My daughter has guinea pigs that have been nick-named “Crispy” and “Crunchy” by her cheeky brother – much to her furious annoyance. This kind of name, inferring their edibility is only funny if you’re not actually going to eat the animal in question.
    Actually any name at all confers at least pet status, if not personhood on the creature, rendering it impossible to harvest later on. (see Babe the movie) Depends on your later intentions…

  14. Ahhh, I see you do have real, live chickens…I thought that you were planning to do like the chap who wrote this [it’s long, so I edited]:

    16 May 2007

    Dear Secretary of State,

    My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.

    My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is – until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

    If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?

    I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department.

  15. You coulda been rich if only…

  16. I do believe Bertrand Russell was fond of chickens..

  17. Jonny, it’s just as well they’re not Transylvanian Naked Necks as you’ve demonstrated a slightly unhealthy fixation on the things and, since you unwisely ruled out inter-species romance, the sight of those bare little chicken necks might be too much even for your manly reserve.

  18. Hullo His Grace, and welcome. Do not worry – we have agreed and neither of us will go back on that.

  19. Keeping chickens is piss-easy. For a real challenge, you should try pandas. Takes more than a reclaimed door and concreted posts to keep those furry fuckers entertained, I can tell you.

    The worst part is how fast they breed. I’m drowning handfuls in the bath 24×7 and I still can’t keep up.

    Yes, the old jokes are the best…

  20. I should know better by now but you still made me giggle at the end.

    What is the alternative to vets’ bills? Would you just dispatch them for want of a little lice powder?

  21. You and ST now officially have a “smallholding”. Make sure you get yourself a tweed hat and some straw to hang from the side of your mouth.

    Or is that a village idiot???

    Still, I’m sure both are equally apt

  22. So you counted your chickens then?

  23. Could someone kindly answer Andyb’s question????

  24. Have you provided your chickens with a TV and loads of porn? If not …. you won’t get any eggs, my boy – how else do animals know how to procreate?

    Honestly.

  25. I always thought doos were doves, but I could have just made that up (it’s been a long day). Ducks maybe?

  26. Doos are flying creatures of some kind as near here we have a ‘famous’ Doocot pronounced ‘docut’. Look like pigeons, fly like pigeons…probably pigeons, or maybe doves…mmmm?

  27. Progress, well done!

    Can we have a Pop Idol-style naming contest? I mean, you could pretend that you made the names up yourself.

    The Eggs Factor is obviously ruled out by your “no puns” rule. What about “Cock Academy”?

  28. Mind you, seeing as the title of my latest blog is “Great Tits!” I’m probably not allowed an opinion.

    That was about birds as well.

  29. Another one…

    Is everybody getting a kick-back from the International Shed Federation for mentioning sheds?

  30. Fanto, there is no need for Jonny to get a village idiot because…oh yawn.

  31. AndyB – yeah, doos are doves of the Scottish variety.

    Pigeons, really.

    And they’re not even white. Poor show…

  32. Hens are devious bastards who, as you have already found out, love to hide. I’ve spent many an hour trudging around searching for a missing hen only to return to the hen house to see the ‘absentee’ happily perched in the corner with a ‘what?’ expression on its beak. They hate me.

  33. I’d like to keep a small herd of Alpacas eventually, but living in a student house and being 23 I’m somewhat limited. Perhaps chickens would be a good start in the near future…

  34. sam: stick insects.

  35. They scare me a bit, plus my next-door neighbour’s video blew up a few years ago and it turned out his sticks had escaped and mated behind the telly and all the kids had been playing where they shouldn’t. A terrible mess…

  36. Jonny, do you not realise that celebrity chicken names are all the thing? A la Gregory Peck and Yolko Ono 😉 Maybe you should start a name the chickens competition?

    I assume that you are aware of DEFRA guidelines for feeding kitchen scraps. i.e. you can feed your chickens pasta you have cooked especially for them, but you can’t feed them pasta that you have cooked for your kids? 😀

  37. Chuckov…? That is a PUN!!! Banned!!! Banned!!!

    Hullo and welcome. They are currently enjoying all sorts of specially cooked creations. I may get bored of that after a week or so.

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