Chicken chums

Author Amanda Jen­nings tells Sa­man­tha Bowles about her hus­band’s change of heart.

Your Chickens - - Contents -

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

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