Thursday, 1 December 2011

the livin' is good, for some

Summer is officially upon us and life on the farm is heating up. Apart from a marked increase in our braaing (BBQ) and beach time, we seem to be pretty productive.
Our spring planting efforts are starting to pay off with our tunnels looking lush and fruitful. I now have marrows, butter lettuce, rocket, spinach and cabbage to sell, plus loads of herbs. And thanks also to my fellow organic growing neighbours, my little farm shop is starting to look quite full of yummy homegrown produce.
But most exciting of all: my hen house is finally complete! After months of nagging my husband, who is really good at any form of hammer and nail work, he finally, without much todo, whipped it up in one afternoon. Thank you!
Our run of youngster chickens, who because of a moody uptight aunty hen, have been ostracized from their mother since young and have had to do with our Magnolia tree as home, did not know what had hit them. After being completely free range since birth, they were suddenly chased, cornered and dive tackled by three grown men, before being deposited into a fresh clean, and enclosed, home. Clearly in shock by this instant change in fortune, they stood around uncomfortably in their new surroundings with beaks agape. And to add insult to injury two of their brothers had mysteriosly vanished...
I feel really bad about this but as Charles said, if I want to farm I'm going to need to toughen up about certain things like selling my first born roosters to our Malawian workers - for the pot. After promising our guys they could have their pick, I got a gleeful knock on the kitchen window one evening and a R20 note thrust into my hand, "For my rooster," said Pearson with a huge grin. I was totally unprepared and hadn't even yet had a moment to say to good bye to the doomed chicken before Pearson and Lusungu picked him out, ran helter, skelter around the garden and caught him. Ofcourse he was the most handsome of all the roosters - how this affects his taste I dont know? And had I offered Pearson a plucked, frozen, free range chicken for supper, I know he would not have felt nearly as rewarded. So a very chuffed Pearson  cycled home with my rooster tied in a plastic packet to his handlebars with only his confused little face peeking out, obviously unaware of the fate that awaited him. 
Next it was the little red rooster that went to Hariet, our nanny. When the girls found out, Anna, the animal lover, was not at all happy to hear of it and ran off to count the chickens only to come back confirming, very sadly, that yes there were two roosters missing, and why should this be? Charlotte's response was simply: "What a pity that Hariet had to eat the red rooster, he was so cute." I have to give it to them: they both, albeit in a vastly different ways, have a healthy approach to life.
Hariet later brought us a small taste of Red Rooster. I simply couldn't do it. I admit I'm a flake.
So there is one young rooster left which I plan to keep as I can't handle another death. I've put all of them: hens, big and small, maternal and not, plus two roosters, Big Daddy and his son, all in the one hen house. Once they have settled in they will go back to their routine of being let out at lunch time, but in the mean time we shall see what transpires. I'm half expecting a stand-off between the two males, but so far it seems quite peaceful.

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