Author Amanda Jennings tells Samantha Bowles about her husband’s change of heart.
Hard as it is for we chicken lovers to believe, there are people out there who really don’t want to keep chickens! However, with a little persuasion and some gentle coaxing their opinions can be turned around. Even the most hardened anti’s can become thoroughly smitten. Crime writer Amanda Jennings managed to turn her husband’s thoughts around completely and now they are partners in chicken crime.
Amanda told me how it all came about: “I grew up in a very eccentric home, where animals resided amongst us and there was always a baby animal in the house,” she laughed. “My mother had a soft heart and took in whatever animal needed nursing, tending or a home. My sister was always bringing various animals back from university as she was studying zoology, so all in all it was a bit of a mad house.
“My first encounters with chickens came when my mother was given two ex-bats, which were treated like royalty and fed from china cereal bowls on the floor in the kitchen. My sister then started to bring back the chicks from her studies at Uni. I was fascinated by them and adored their ways and their strong characters. My love of hens started there.”
Amanda left home, met and married her husband Chris and three little girls followed. After living in London for a while the countryside beckoned and the family moved into a lovely house in the country which, most importantly, had room for plenty of animals and feathered friends.
“As soon as we moved in my husband wanted to tear down the original owner’s old hen shed and run. He said it was an absolute eyesore and had to go. I was temporarily resigned to the fact that hens were not welcome.”
Amanda didn’t give up hope, and worked steadily on changing Chris’s mind on the subject. “Eventually he gave in a little and agreed that we could get some Japanese bantam hatching eggs, and let the children watch and learn how the process happened. He was adamant about one thing though - they had to go back to
the breeder once they were hatched and we had had them for a short while. He was most determined that they would not stay with us after hatching.”
Time passed as the eggs incubated and Chris was certain they would be gone afterwards.
Amanda remembers the day she knew she had changed his mind about chickens. “One night Chris woke me up to tell me that the eggs were about to hatch. I went downstairs to find Chris listening very carefully at the incubator. He could hear the eggs ‘pipping’. The sound of the little chicks calling inside the eggs before hatching was spellbinding to him. He said he felt like a midwife!” said Amanda.
Three chicks hatched, one black and two white. As it was nearly Christmas they were called Angel, Rudolph and Santa.
Won over by the evergrowing bantams, a rather large house with run was purchased. When Chris saw it he suggested that they get more hens to help fill it up.
“I was astounded,” said Amanda. “He had a complete turnaround. Chris was totally won over by their scratching and sunbathing. He loved their independence and the fact that the children were so delighted with them. I think their love of them sealed the deal.”
Disaster struck later in the year, when a fox killed almost all of their bantams.
“Everyone was totally devastated, including Chris,” said Amanda. “He decided to build a much more secure unit – fully fox and dog proof. It’s 30ft x 4ft, so it has plenty of safe space. We couldn’t risk them wandering free range unless under strict supervision. As well as the fox we had trouble with passing unleashed dogs, so it was the safest option for our special girls.”
Four new birds then entered the Jennings family life, this time four ex-batts named by the children, Flameboy, Rosalina IV, Wolfie and Jon Snow (from Game of Thrones – not the newsreader) entered the lovingly-built hen run.
“The girls made Chris a sign for Christmas, L’Hotel du Poulet, which Chris has grandly hung up on the hen run door. He is very proud of the hens, giving their eggs to friends and family with much pride. Although he is not a cook, he does love to make egg breakfasts for the children on a Sunday morning. I now think that Chris loves them even more than the rest of us do. What a turnaround. I genuinely never thought that would happen after ripping down the old hen house and run.”
So, for all of you out there who think your partner will never become your partner in chicken crime, you just never know. A little time and persuasion could just get you what you want – as Amanda found out.
The sound of little chicks calling inside the eggs before hatching was spellbinding to him. He said he felt like a midwife.
ABOVE: Amanda’s husband, Chris
Young friend with chicken