After many years of thinking about it and then my lovely brother (and my son) building a pen, we have chickens.
Four, from our local farm shop; each a piece less to buy than a deceased organic one in the supermarket - I could have found cheaper ones but weighing up travelling to somewhere further with the looming petrol crisis . . . well, support local shops, etc.
Anyway, they are magnificent, shining birds with bright eyes and wonderfully fluffy bottoms - I don't think I'd ever really looked at chickens bums that closely before but they are quite wonderful; rather like giant powder puffs.
I was amazed at the casualness of buying them. The girl serving me marched into the pen, hauled up four by the legs and stuffed them in a couple of cardboard boxes. I didn't ask if they would get car sick, but paid and drove carefully home where the reception committee awaited - husband and three very curious dogs.
I opened the boxes; the birds hopped out and started investigating immediately, uttering those little contented warbling sounds which is one of the reasons I've always wanted to have a few wandering about the place.
The day passed; them accustoming themselves and me hovering a little anxiously wondering if they were bored or disgruntled with our food offerings.
The Italian tenor (also chicken-keeper) came for his music lesson with Mark and waved his arms about: "Magnificent - what a palace, of course they like it, everything! You should see what mine live in," etc. I felt much relieved and went to get on with what I should have been doing until dusk came and the small flock were pacing a bit, obviously looking for the old coop.
I put them in their new house, asked if they wanted hot water bottles or a final bit of rice/apple/corn and as there was no reply, went back indoors to do a bit of, rather too late, internet research about the correct way of building a coop.
Morning came and I approached the chicken house. A few faint clucks greeted me as I opened the lid and observed them all squashed tightly up one end. They trotted out, and like feathery robots, started the never ceasing search for food.
Two days on, we have had five eggs - a bonus as the shop girl said expect to wait over a week. Thinking in pure monetary terms that's probably fifty euros per egg, taking all in to account, but the pure delight in seeing them happily scratching the soil, preening and lying in their 'chicken pits' is well worth it, and if I could be bothered to do the sums, probably in about a year it will all work out, looking at the amount of eggs we usually get through in a week.
The first egg