(roost­ing)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Louise Bow­ers Re­view this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

We were quite proud of our lit­tle fam­ily of chick­ens. We pur­chased dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing friz­zle, ban­tam and wyan­dotte. We got them when they were old enough to start lay­ing and gave them all names of fe­male singers: Dusty, Patsy, Cilla, Lulu and so on.

How­ever, we soon had to re­name some of our girls when Cilla and Lulu be­gan to crow in the early hours of the morn­ing; Cilla be­came Cyril and Lulu be­came Lewis, the proud roost­ers of our lit­tle pack of chooks.

All was fine un­til sum­mer ar­rived and brood­ing com­menced. Not fa­mil­iar with the ways of chick­ens, we asked no ques­tions, and soon our lit­tle fam­ily grew. Next door’s ISA browns started pro­duc­ing chicks with feath­ers on their legs and our lit­tle chicks were big­ger than ex­pected and not very ban­tam-like at all. The batches kept com­ing. They hid the eggs un­der the bushes, in the old shed be­hind a plank of wood, and in the daisies next to the drive­way.

Ev­ery now and again a hen would dis­ap­pear, only to reap­pear about a month later with a fluffy dozen of her best. They would all file out and we would try to count them.

They just kept com­ing. One bunch took res­i­dence in the front gar­den, prompt­ing us to con­sider putting a sign at the gate say­ing “Chick­ens Cross­ing”.

We are com­mit­ted to not eat­ing our fam­ily (Ing­ham’s can re­lax). Which raises the prob­lem of what to do with them all. We’ve of­fered to give them away but where we live, lots of peo­ple have their own chick­ens al­ready.

When I first moved to Tas­ma­nia a few years ago it puz­zled me why so many live roost­ers were seen by the side of the road, wan­der­ing along in groups of two or three. I only later found out that these road­side gangs are the re­sult of there be­ing no nat­u­ral preda­tors in the re­gion, and too many roost­ers.

While the rooster road gangs don’t pose any im­me­di­ate threat — I mean, they’re not hold­ing up wagon trains or any­thing — the dump­ing of any an­i­mal isn’t ideal.

As we are not con­sid­er­ing the coq-au-vin so­lu­tion, an­other al­ter­na­tive is to do­nate them to the zoo, where they be­come a “gift” for the tigers.

Even if we do find a so­lu­tion to our prob­lem, there’s an­other is­sue we face. The chick­ens aren’t ex­actly hatched in eggs with pink or blue shells — we don’t know which is a rooster un­til we hear cock-a-doo­dle-doo. And by then they may have al­ready em­barked on full-time rooster du­ties.

So what started out as a lit­tle back­yard fam­ily has turned into a se­ri­ous chicken pop­u­la­tion and will con­tinue to grow un­less I can sort out my Cil­las from my Cyrils.

wel­comes sub­mis­sions to This Life. To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, the work must be orig­i­nal and be­tween 450 and 500 words. Sub­mis­sions may be edited for clar­ity. Send emails to Jorn Ut­zon is best-known as the ar­chi­tect of which fa­mous build­ing? The gar­banzo bean is also known by what other name? Don­ald Trump took of­fice as the 45th Pres­i­dent of the United States on which date?

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