Big A drinks his cooking lager, thoughtfully.
“The thing is,” I explain, “I don’t think the chickens understand how much physical danger they are in. Predators and stuff are all very well, but the LTLP will start wringing necks if they keep eating her plants.”
I finger my own neck, nervously.
“Are they still getting over the gate?” he asks.
I nod, sadly. The chickens have always taken their ‘free range’ status a bit literally, wanting to range around all freely and stuff, rather than just sitting in a small confined space, providing me with eggs. But I have always wanted to hold off on the wing-clippy thing, as it seems so obviously unsporting.
The LTLP approaches. “I need to go home,” she says. “I’m desperately tired.”
I take a look through the windows unto the blackness without. “You’re not seriously walking down the hill on your own in the dark in this weather?!?” I say. “In your condition?!?” I excuse myself to fetch my coat.
“Here – you should take my torch,” I offer, pulling a small wind-up torch from the pocket. “Will you make sure to pay the babysitter?”
I order another pint. “Anyway,” I tell Big A, “we’re going to have to do the wing clipping thing. All you have to do is to sort of catch them, and to then sort of clip their wings. With scissors. Len the Fish has apparently demonstrated to Short Tony. It can’t possibly go wrong.”
There is a long silence.