It was a Sunday afternoon when we found ourselves driving out through the suburbs of Sydney to collect our chooks. A beautiful Spring day, we stopped off to have brunch with friends on the way.
‘What great weather’, we commented to each other while eating bacon and egg rolls in their garden.
‘It sure is great weather for collecting chooks’, said Ned with a big smile.
Yes, I thought, this is the right time for us to be doing this. The kids were going to love it.
Although, Stuart may have been the most excited. For a week he’d been researching breeds on the internet.
‘Wow, look at this’, he had said with alarming regularity. ‘The Black Mottled Ancona, how beautiful is this bird!’
I looked over his shoulder, first noting “nervous and restless in confinement”.
‘Well what about the Belgian D’Uccle?’
‘Ummm. You want a “broody and fidgety” chicken?’ I replied feeling more nervous.
‘Well, come on. Let’s not just get a boring chicken. I want something interesting and attractive. Let’s do it properly!’ was the reply.
Followed a few minutes later with...
‘Yes, I’ve found it! We HAVE to get this breed that lays blue eggs. Look at how beautiful it is and the kids will love blue eggs!’
I felt bad dampening his enthusiasm but seriously the last thing we needed was a chook who was “nervous and flighty and prone to the sniffles”.
An awful thought crossed my mind. ‘You do realise we are not going to become people who show chickens competitively?’
‘Mmm. I suppose not.’ He looked disappointed.
But now here we were, safe in the knowledge that the chicken breeder had already told Stuart on the phone the breeds that would best suit our 3 children family in the middle of the city. After arriving I casually reiterated that we were really after docile, friendly chooks that wouldn’t get broody and would lay eggs regularly.
Then Stuart spotted a white chicken with what looked like a huge pom pom on top of its head.
‘How cool is that one!’ he pointed excitedly.
The breeder smiled and shook his head. ‘You’d need a roof on your run. Those ones love to fly’. ‘Let me show you what you really want.’
With our three chooks calmly sitting in their shredded paper-lined box ready for the drive home, Stuart asked the kids to name them.
‘I want the black one to be called Chippy!’ said Ned.
‘And I chose the brown spotty one so that’s mine and I’m calling her Clucky!’ said Lily.
Louis looked for a while at the little red chicken, as yet un-named. ‘I think Axy’, he said.
‘Axy?’ the chicken breeder and I both said.
‘Axy as in Axe-man’ Louis laughed.
I think the irony was lost on him.
‘You can’t call a chicken that!’ I said sounding too much like my mother. ‘What about Henny Penny?’
‘Let him call it what he likes’, replied Stuart perhaps still smarting from not getting the exotic, neurotic breeds he really wanted.
I tried again on the drive home. ‘Kids, are you sure you don’t want to think of some more interesting names?’
‘What’s wrong with their names?’ asked Stuart. I realised that as he had named his first pet Budgie the Budgerigar this wouldn’t be a conversation worth continuing.
I comforted myself with the knowledge that it was more important that we had three docile non-flighty birds... Or so I thought.