All entries for Saturday 05 November 2005

November 05, 2005

Childhood memories

The pen knife must have nicked the skin, and the shell was levered off, in one pearl of blood. How could such a tiny creature afford to loose so much blood? The chick, peeping wildly, tumbled out onto the bench; bloody, struggling, a tiny beating life.
Early that morning, Grandy called me out to the workshop – that place where the smell of oil and chicken feed and nails lived in boxes and bins and packets and bags – and together we watched the blank yellow box of the incubator, and the tiny cracks just beginning on the surface of the egg. By breakfast, we could see the egg tooth. We moved indoors for hot, thick porridge drenched in golden syrup, sat at opposite ends of the long dining room table, my feet in their socks not quite reaching the floor, then Wellington-booted we slipped back out.

I plodded up the field to the other pens – Lady Amherst’s, Goldens, Himalayan Monals and Blue Eared pheasants, bantam hens, and a few brace destined for the freezer. I helped in the comforting ritual of feeding and watering, collecting bantam eggs and moving the broody hens to the Sin Bin till they got over it. By lunchtime, the Blue Eared chick was still struggling to escape. Grandy got out a pen-knife and carefully picked away the shell, and this little squalling thing emerged, sticky and bloody, still with bits of shell clinging to it. Featherless, without even that yellow fuzzy down you expect, just blue scraps, matted and flattened against wrinkled pink skin. We left it to dry off in the incubator.

November 2005

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