When I was little I kept obsessive lists of what I wanted to be, and be like, when I grew up. It wasn't all "medieval historian" and "have short hair, wear long skirts" although that was a strangely repetitive theme.
There's a list that describes my perfect house (small, wooden, without a roof so it was nice and light and I could sleep looking at the stars) and it specifies that there is a chicken called Henrietta wandering around on the table. Ever see that movie The Slipper And The Rose? I never, not even as an eight year old, pictured myself as the romantic lead. I was the fruity Fairy Godmother who had a chicken called Henrietta in her kitchen.
My love for chickens has never waned.
It is now second only to my love of ducks. Of which I have none. Yet.
I went with my friend Vanessa to the local poultry auction on Sunday. We have quite a few chickens as you may know (about a hundred and fifteen), our little laying flock, but I was after a few for a new chicken tractor (*cough*, not yet built), out on my new vegie patch. I was dreaming about Orpingtons and Wyandottes and Barnevelders and my favourites: Barred Plymouth Rocks.
There were hundreds of people there. Many in fancy gumboots. And from the start it was clear I was going home empty handed, the prices for "pretty" chickens were nuts. Even cross bred layers. Perhaps the place to sell poultry, rather than buy it.
I took a quick, not entirely focussed, photo of this fella before I peered more closely at his comb. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he has a mild case of Fowl Pox. I only recognise it because we had it, briefly, a little while ago. Black warty spots on combs. Sends the girls off the lay. Dry pox isn't fatal, but if it gets into their beaks it can become wet pox, which is. It's spread by mosquitoes and we had a long, very wet summer here.
We treated our flock with a liquid multivitamin that we ordered through the vet, and we also fed them raw lambs liver. Sound odd? Incredibly high in iron. Boosts their immunity right up. Adam meticulously diced the first liver, then threw the others in the food processor. Worked a treat.
But enough about chickens.
Because then I saw the ducks.
My neighbour last year brought home some white Indian Runners from this very same auction, and I thought they were the duckiest creatures I'd ever seen. Wagging tails, curious necks.
A BLUE Indian Runner. What a perfect creature.
Ducks watch you in a way chickens wouldn't bother with.
I came home and asked Adam how far down the farm job list, exactly, the duck enclosure was. He looked up the list (it's on his iPhone) and told me it was job seventy two. I'm not sure if he was joking.
Which might be a problem because my sense of who I am entirely depends on a flock of Indian Runners at my kitchen door.
Depends on it.