Those were the days
There’s the dawn chorus, and then there’s the dawn shouting match. That’s what I used to wake up to as a child, the slow, growing purr of 25,000 hens waking up to face the day in a shed just metres from my bedroom window, shouted down by just as many sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes and starlings.
When I moved into Auckland City as an adult, the silence was the hardest thing. I’d wake up and it would be like everything on Earth had died. Dead silence.
It was very quiet on my block when I first bought it as there were no trees. As they’ve grown, the chatter of birds has slowly gotten louder. The little guy you see below is a regular visitor and this is one of his favourite spots, quietly watching us work, sometimes retreating into the peach tree nearby if the dogs get too close.
I still get to hear the morning purr of hens thanks to the hundreds of laying hens who live on the organic farm next door. The best neighbour for a poultry farm is someone who knows and understands there will be noise and smell and a shouting chorus.
When you grow up on a poultry farm, you tend to be friends with other poultry farming families because you understand each other. You know there will be a lack of holidays, how to avoid the smell (short breaths), that there will be dust and flies, and manure on your boots. You’ll probably be having chicken for dinner.
There was one poultry man who stood out to me as a child. He’d be in the middle of the noise and bustle of his farm, his big family, and all those birds – he had hundreds of thousands of hens – but he would be an oasis of calm, a broad, beaming smile always, breaking into a laugh at any opportunity.
He was on my ‘special man list’ when I was a kid. It was short. Dad, the best. My cousin Brian. Glen, a lifelong family friend. His gift to me six months before I was born was a little toy rabbit and Bunbun is sitting nearby as I write.
Then there was Rob the chicken man with the biggest smile in the world. We lost Rob a few weeks ago and like us, the list is now bereft of a truly lovely man. Rest in peace and quiet Rob.