The truth about chooks

MY wife wants to keep chooks.

There’s not a chance. We have been there before in those far off days when I could fight a hen and win. And my wife’s memories are of eggs the size of hot-air balloons with yolks the colour of sunflowers.

She is being carried away by the chook craze of the new millennium. Everyone’s doing it. Chooks are in high demand. Their market price is higher than hen’s teeth, which are scarce and expensive.

I guess it’s something to do with out urban society wanting to re-establish its relationship with country life.

And with cockerels that wake you up at 3am, having the lawn transformed into the Simpson Desert, eggs that break in your pocket and bad-tempered hens that will take the finger off anyone who thinks they’re cute and tries to mess with them.

I’m not afraid of chooks. I did battle with many when I was younger and fitter, but I had an advantage then.

I had an axe.

Let me tell you some truths about chooks that you won’t find in books:

Chooks will rid your garden of insect pests

Actually this is true, but they only do it after they’ve eaten everything that’s growing in the ground. They are particularly fond of rare species of plants that are hard to cultivate.

Chooks lay eggs.

Again, true as far as it goes, but chooks don’t want you to have them. So they lay them in secret nests that you only discover when there are so many eggs in them the hen is exposed above the shrubbery when she sits on top of them.

And by the time you do find them 80 per cent of the eggs are bad and the really hard part is establishing which ones they are. The usual way is to break them into the frying pan alongside the bacon where they’ll poison not only your breakfast, but the kitchen, the atmosphere, the neighbourhood and your appetite.

Hens should have a rooster in their midst because it’s natural.

Have you ever seen a rooster slaking its lust on a hen? It might be natural, but it still has all the hallmarks of rape. And it’s certainly not natural to be woken, as I said earlier, at 3am. Roosters have no self control (see ‘rape’ above) and they have absolutely never got a wristwatch. Those people with cosy ideas about roosters greeting the dawn have never kept one. And even if they have, who the hell wants to be woken up at dawn?

When they invent a cockerel that doesn’t start crowing until 10am, I’ll have two. Roosters are all self-importance and machismo. If you turn your back the buggers will jump in your hair (chooks can’t fly, but boy, can they jump) and tear your neck to pieces with their spurs.

You can make pets of chooks.

We had one once that thought it was a pet. It slept in the washing basket. That was cute. It also laid its eggs in the washing basket and it did its number twos in it (I don’t know if chooks do number ones). On the washing. The clean washing.

When eventually I plucked it (you can trust people even less than you can trust chooks) I found it had chicken lice.

It had been sleeping on my clean towel.

So, no chooks.

Lovely things when someone else owns ’em. Great eggs at $3.50 a dozen from a neighbour (not one who lives next door).

But at home I prefer them with roast potatoes and sage and onion stuffing.