Those were the days

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Fron The Editor - Nadene Hall, Editor

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.

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