Eleven chickens. Eleven!!!
Honestly, I do not know how I get in to these things. One minute I have a few chickens trotting around in my garden, the next minute I have become some sort of emergency chicken looker-after and advice service.
I slurp down my morning tea and hare across the road to my first appointment.
I am growing a bit concerned about the Vicarage chickens. They do not seem to eat much. Here I am, dashing to their immediate relief, a chicken knight in shining armour, Egg Adair – but they have not even eaten their dinner from yesterday. Or the day before. I try to encourage them by making hungry chicken noises and flapping my arms and miming eating things, but they are not at all interested. I take their eggs, thoughtfully.
It seems apparent that they have anorexia. I am not sure whether I should feel responsible for this. They are a year or so old, and I have just introduced six healthy fine young pedigree chicken specimens into the Village to compete with them. They definitely have a self-image problem, and I do not know what to do to address this, apart from point out to them that one of ours got shot, so things are not all bad for them. I will speak to the Vicaragers on their return.
Eleven chickens!!! I am like some Norfolk version of Bernard Matthews.
I zip round the corner to Big A’s. His chickens start throwing themselves at the wire as soon as they see me approaching with food. I open their door, checking for post, and they mob me, surrounding, jostling and squawking. I am surprised nobody has made a horror movie about chickens. I tip their food into their tin and they launch themselves in it with ravening beaks. This tin was totally full up yesterday.
They are clearly bullemic. It is fairly obvious what has happened: as rescued battery hens, they are enjoying eating things other than mashed-up pieces of other chickens, but are alarmed that they are putting on weight quickly. If I search hard enough I will find some chicken sick. It is very sad. I take the eggs and stomp home.
My chickens are happy as always. They are the best chickens in the Village, not that I am competitive dad or anything, oh no. I would get some work done, but by the time I have finished chickening it is almost nightfall, and there are emails in my inbox from people who have chicken problems and have discovered my expertise by using the internet.
This is probably how Dr Raj Persaud started. I would start penning a chicken column for the quality Sundays, but I cannot get to my desk for eggs. I am proud to have demystified chickens for the masses, but it is perhaps time to move on a bit.