|Melissa Gaggiano Photography|
I never thought that I’d be entering a battlefield when I agreed to look after the school chickens. Imagining an idyllic scene full of chickens wandering about the yard, my family picnicking alongside them on an azure morning, and me, with a notepad in hand dreaming of poetic arrangements of words that I would pluck [yes, I said pluck] out of the sky and scribble down.Wind in the Willows has a lot to answer for, I think.
The nasty reality of looking after the chickens was not so much the chickens. The chickens were lovely, each with its’ own adorable personality I am sure. But there were machinations planted in the schoolyard the day that I got the call from the school saying it was finally our turn to look after the chickens. We would even have the chickens all to ourselves for the entire holidays. We, my family that is, excitedly waited all year for the chance to look after the school chickens. Why? Go back to the first paragraph and reread why. So what exactly went wrong?
It was, in fact, the cock! The bloody cock!! Twice we have gone to check on the chickens and each time the newly acquired cock has been quite territorial. Now I know what it feels like to be stalked by a miniature dinosaur. Make no mistake, just because the beast is smaller than me doesn’t lessen the impact of intimidation. I am sensitive by nature and will howl at a paper cut and am not hardened to the pin like pricks when kittens play [though I can handle a break or dislocation with surreal calm]. So when a cock continually flies at me, and impaling my leg with its beak, I will freak. And freak I did. Realising the very real danger from this bird whose balls were clearly bigger than its brain I call out to my youngest and tell her to escape to the other side of the field. Moments later I’m running sideways across the oval with the cock on my tail.
The situation was beyond ridiculous. This one little bird was able to cause so much distress, not to mention physical pain. How on this green earth was I going to look after the chickens when this psycho with duck syndrom running about? My only option was retreat and to call for back up.
“I cannot believe I am being bullied by a small bird”, I tell my husband. He suggests I look at this situation as a life lesson. I’ve had plenty of those. I don’t need a tiny mad bird reminding me that I am a constant target for bullies.
Half an hour later I return to the chickens with my husband at my side. This time we are battle ready with large square orange bread cartons acting as shields. Well, the birds didn’t know what was coming and the cock wasn't going to mess with a giant square floating toward it. Within minutes the chickens and the cock were back in their house, door closed and firmly locked. After all that trouble caused by one mad bird, I was exhausted from the adrenalin rush and ravenous. My husband and I look at each other, we are each wondering if rooster tastes like chicken. Don’t worry though the cock is safe, for now. But we knew that using the cartons as shields was a temporary solution and something more permanent needed to be done if we were to continue taking care of the chickens.