Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. Because seemingly there was a square inch of garden on the other side that they hadn’t pooped on yet.
Yes readers I’m now living the n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶m̶a̶r̶e̶ dream and am a fully fledged keeper of three much longed for chickens. Following one or two false starts where Orkney Beef and Dixie Chuck thought it would be funny to put a boiled egg in the nest (read here if you missed that little gem) followed by them managing to lay three chocolate eggs in shiny wrappers, they are now regularly laying, and in the morning I get to collect their offerings. This was something I’d dreamed about for a long time and the eggs are truly delicious. However there’s a down side to having free range chickens which I was warned about but failed to see through my rose tinted glasses. Chickens poop everywhere. I had no idea that such a small feathered friend could produce so much recycled matter and they don’t contain it to one place. They wander all over the place dropping gifts wherever they go. They are also incredibly inquisitive and if they think you have the merest scrap of food they will follow you everywhere breaking into a run if they think you are going to escape them. It’s very entertaining but you have to watch where you tread in your bid to escape. They even tried to follow me to the shop today and I had to keep walking back to the house to stop them. Madness I tell you.
The sun shines almost daily now as Spring ushers in and pretty soon the kye (cows) will be out. This makes me smile because it means weather is warming and drying up but reminds me of another dream turned nightmare I have. I discovered on moving out to the country that I’m not over keen on walking past a field of kye.When I say not over keen what I actually mean is I can feel my heart thudding and I am offering silent prayers that I won’t be stampeded to death but that I will survive to tell the tale as I walk past. Let me tell you how it all started.
We had not longed moved into our home. It was mid summer, the views were so incredible, I had an overwhelming sense of well being and life was very good. I was officially living the dream. It was a wonderful summers evening, Orkney Beef had been unwell and little did we know he was going to end up in hospital just a few days later but for now he was spending his time horizontal on the couch and we didn’t think there was much to worry about. It was a Friday evening and I decided to walk the dog down to the beach. Due to his feeling pretty groggy Orkney Beef decided not to come so I set off on my own with the dog trotting merrily beside me. I breathed in the salty air, and felt completely at home with my new found country girl status. Life couldn’t be happier. Some might say I’d set the bar low but I was pretty contented with my lot.
- Own a house by the sea. Check
- Wake up to some of the best views in Orkney in my humble opinion. Check
- Have romantic notions of someday keeping three chickens. Check
- etc etc
I’d walked about a mile when I saw a field full of kye and they all came over to the edge of the field to see what I was doing. This is where the term ‘nosey cow’ comes from I’ve discovered. Maybe I’ve never had cause to walk past such a large collection of kye, being such a city girl all my life, but I quickly discovered I wasn’t hugely comfortable. I crossed over to the other side of the road and carried on, when low and behold in the field opposite was an enormous bull seemingly keen to get to the kye I’d just dodged. I was between him and the field of lovelies and he was making one heck of a noise. In Orkney this is called ‘boggling’
The dog sensed impending doom as I did. (I may be being slightly dramatic here but really, it was quite scary!) and fixed her eyes straight ahead not making eye contact with any of the beasts on either side of us. I did the same and continued ahead until I was past the kye and boggling bull but by now was in too much of a state to continue. I made it to the beach and spent two minutes there as a token gesture thinking ‘oh yes, very nice, there’s a beach, lovely, but there’s a death trap to get home again’ but really what was on my mind was how was I going to get back?
I had two choices.
Option one: To walk the long way round to get back home thus avoiding the kye, This was 5 miles and it would be dark by the time I arrived to safety.
Option two: To go back the way I came and run the gauntlet of risking life and limb between nosey protective kye, calves and raging bull. (Again, I may be exaggerating a tinsy bit but it felt that way at the time)
Enter option three.
‘Hi it’s me (Obviously) I’m just near the kirk (church) the field has a bull in it and I’m too scared to walk past it home. I think my life may be in danger, can you drive down and collect me?’ ‘please?’
‘Is the bull louse?’ (translation for non Orcadians. Is the bull loose, meaning out of the field)
‘no, but I’m scared’
Readers I HEARD him rolls his eyes
‘I’ll just be’ (I’m on my way)
So poor Orkney Beef had to leave his bed of sickness, get in the car and drive the 3/4 mile to collect a rather sheepish looking country girl and dog and deliver us safely home. He saved my life that day.
Since then I have become brave enough to take their photo because someone was with me at the time and all bets were off. I’m getting better after much advice from friends and farmers but I’m still not keen. The bottom picture is taken from my bedroom window and don’t worry me because they can’t open front doors to my knowledge. Yes I know they look harmless. Whatever.
Until the next time and thank you for reading.