The chickens were revolting. Not in the sense that they smelt rancid, well not on a good day anyway. No, they were causing a riot down in the chicken coop. Upon further investigation I discovered the reason for their rumpus: their food bowl contained a large pile of dust. Son no 2 had been tasked with tending them for a couple of days, but he had clearly been feeding them the dregs from the bottom of the bag of pellets.
Cobweb Gladys inspected the bowl of dust, then glared at me in disgust. Doris DooDah let out a melancholy <cluck> and shuffled off to sit on the perch in a despondent heap.
“Never mind, ladies!” I addressed them cheerfully, “We’ll get you some more.”
The chickens glanced at each other and together let out the avian equivalent of a very loud ‘tut’. If they could have rolled their eyes, that would have followed. Cobweb went to join her sister on the perch and there they sat, a perturbed pile of plumage, eyeing me in an accusatory fashion.
Feeling rather guilty, I grabbed sons no 2 and 3, jumped in the car and we shot off to Pets at Home.
Ah the fun to be had at a pet superstore. The chicken food was soon forgotten as the boys became engrossed in 4 caged degus, fighting it out on a large wheel to see who could stay on it the longest. Their little beady eyes glistened as their furry bodies heaved and shoved, legs going like the clappers. So this is what a wrestling match would look like if the men wore furry bodysuits rather than lycra unitards. Marvellous.
“Please can we get some?” asked son no 3, hope shining from his big blue eyes.
“No” I replied. “They would frighten the cat. Besides, they’re too expensive.”
The boys sighed and carried on moseying round the shop.
Suddenly son no 2 piped up, “Wow! Look! These are half price – we have to get some!”
Son no 3 ran across to have a look, then recoiled in disgust: his brother had discovered an entire shelf packed with plastic tubs which contained live crickets.
“No!” I said feeling somewhat bemused. “We certainly can’t buy any of those!”
“Why not?” asked son no 2. “Will they frighten the cat too?”
“No” I laughed. “You don’t buy them as pets!”
“But they’re half price!” exclaimed son no 2, clearly trying to appeal to my frugal nature. He pointed to some locusts: “These are even bigger, so they’re a much better bargain too!”
I shook my head, trying to suppress a smile.
“If they’re not pets, then why do people buy them?” questioned son no 3.
“For food,” I replied absent mindedly.
“EURGH! That’s disGUSting!” exclaimed son no 3. “How do you eat them? They wouldn’t be a very big meal would they?”
“They’re not for US to eat!” I laughed. “Look, they’re for the bearded dragons up here. Oh and no, we’re not getting a bearded dragon either!”
The boys could hardly contain their disappointment as I threw a sack of chicken food their way and made my way to the till to pay.
So what have I learnt today?
1. Chickens might bathe in dust, but they won’t eat it.
2. Degus put on free wrestling matches to endear themselves to boys.
3. It might be worth buying some half price crickets, to try and increase son no 3’s protein level.