Well the day is finally here. After over a year of research, and a couple of false starts, we got the message -Duncan’s Poultry’ is in town and he has a supply of 18-week-old pullets ready to go. I suspect these are the same pullets we had to turn down a few weeks back.
A combination of factors – bush fires, extreme heat, and then the sudden realisation we were going to be away for 3 days just after we picked them up – meant it hadn’t seemed the responsible thing to do, to bring these girls home just before Christmas. But now there was nothing stopping us.
So what do you need when you pick up 18 week-old pullets?
Given we literally lived 5 minutes along the road for Coastal Rural Traders (CRT) which is where Duncan parks up with his lorry, all we needed was a cardboard box or two with enough holes for them to breathe (and the air con going in the car). The first week of February on the East Coast of Australia is extremely hot so it was important to keep the girls comfortable even for such a short ride – they get dehydrated very quickly.
As we parked our own car and walked across the road to the squawking, rocking, feather wagon, I felt all the giddy excitement I used to feel going to the Pet Shop as a child (and you know how that turned out …Freedom for all Puppies).
And then it hit me …”phwoa – what’s that sme-eell?” I screw my nose and face up as though I’m eating a Brussel Sprout.
“That’s how chicken’s smell” Mr P answers simply (in that ‘everyone knows that’ tone of voice ) “Or at least that’s the smell of chicken sh*t.”
Well, not my chickens, I thought.
‘What yis afta?’ Duncan says amiably enough in his slow Australian drawl.
I was ready for this – I had done my research.
“Two black cross, one white white cross and a Brown.” I hand over my cash and feel like I just had handed all my pocket money over to the ice cream van man. I then offer up our open boxes.
The next scene wasn’t quite as shall we say ‘gentle and fluffy’ as I had anticipated. Duncan made his way unseen around the truck (in a manner that made it clear why it was rocking from a distance) and then appeared with four birds swinging upside down. I suppressed a squeal of horror inside. I’ll never be the blasé style of farmer that can swing a pullet by its feet and I’m still easily shocked by this when I see birds handled this way.
“No I want 2 blacks”, I say as he tried to hand me another white. “oh right yeah’ he says as he darts off again and I feel sorry for the white pullet that is being unceremoniously swung back into her box.
After a few scuffles and scraggly legs going everywhere, we have possession of our 4 girls.
“Now when you get back home don’t let them sit in the coop – just put them in the run – because if you let them go up to the coop they’ll just stay there – and it’s too hot for them to stay in the coop – they’ll die – alright?’
We nod our agreements and thanks and head off.
“We have chickens!!!” I squeal. Another of those things I had always wanted in life had just come true.
“Time to go home girls. You’re going to love it.”
As I looked at the two boxes in the back of the car, I couldn’t help thinking ‘Chicken to go – who ordered the chicken to go?’