I would cry when my brother ran over ants with his tonka, with images of the other ants in the nest crying in despair... On the way to my grandparents house we would drive past a Dog boarding kennel. I became convinced it was a haven of cruelty... Dogs were minced up in there and made into cat food... horses were made into glue in there. No one could convince me that it was just a pet babysitting service for people wanting to take a holiday.
When we would drive past I would clamp my hands over my ears so I wouldn't hear them yelp and scrunch my eyes shut as tight as I could so I wouldn't accidentally see the carnage that went on in there.
So I was a little bit of a weirdo.
When I got a little older, the woes of my friends, parties and boys distracted my mind from the seal clubbing and the homeless.
Then when I had children... A magical thing happened.
Other than everyone Else's children suddenly becoming dirty, smelly and annoying compared to my own, I seemed to have lost a bit of my sensitivity to the worlds "unfairs". It is not that I didn't care... It was just that I now knew that a bigger fear and injustice existed.. I would still clamp my ears and squish my eyes shut... I would do it with stories of child abuse, neglect, abduction....Sadly the list is long. I felt like I could handle the other world injustices.... Just anything but that, if you know what I mean.
So I am still a bit of a weirdo.
When we moved to the jetty, the first thing I wanted to do, was build a chook house... and build one we did... Mr Emma's Brain and I spent many an afternoon swearing at each other and telling the dogs to Piss off out from underneath our feet and at one point, I may or may not have thrown a hammer over the back fence and told Mr Emma's brain he was on his own...only there were probably more swears involved.
When the chook house was built we took a drive out to a "chicken farm" to choose our selves 5 layers.
At the desk I told a great big man reading a paper that I wanted five chooks...
He said, "babies or ex battery hens?"
I thought for a minute and said... ex battery hens...
He didn't look up from his paper but he went on to ask "What colour?"
I said I really didn't mind, whatever came to him first... He took a sip from his coffee and looked at me over the rim of the mug. I couldn't tell what he was thinking but it made me uncomfortable... and when I am uncomfortable I will usually fill the air the unwanted words... but this time I didn't. I just wished he would hurry up and grab my chickens so I could leave so I just stared back....
He sighed. and I swear he let go a bit of a fart when he stood up but I couldn't be sure... He grabbed a cardboard box that seemed awfully small to hold five chickens then took a screw driver from his back pocket... stabbed the box a few times and handed it to me and told me to wait by my car he would "Bring em round"
I nearly ran to the car.
A few minutes later the great big man emerged from a great big tin barn with five stunned red chooks, he held them by the legs in ONE hand... they looked stunned and rigid... I felt like clamping my hands over my ears and screwing shut my eyes.
He heaved them into the tiny box folded it shut and put it in the back of the car for me.... He said "that'll be ten bucks love"
I thought? ten bucks? Two dollars a chook, it made me sad.
I handed over my ten bucks and hopped in the car... From the back seat I could hear the little brrrrk brrrk noises the chooks were making and their feet sliding on the cardboard when I turned the corner... I couldn't wait to put them in the pen so that they could know what grass felt like.
When I got home the kids were jumping excitedly by the chook pen, laden with gifts of vegetable peelings and laying pellets, fresh straw sat in five nesting boxes..... I carefully sat the box down and opened the lid... I expected them to flap and jump out in a frenzy... but they just sat there...
I saw their beaks, they were half beaks.... either worn down by the metal pellet tray or chopped off to avoid injury I couldn't be sure.... what little feathers they had were dull and wispy...
I chose one out of the box, It didn't flinch when I put my hands around her wings... she didn't protest, she just looked at me with beady eyes....
I put her down on the grass and grabbed her sisters... five red pathetic chooks sad stunned on the grass.... I gave one a gentle shove toward the vegetable scraps and she fell forward on her face... I looked at Mr Emma's brain.. his eyes were tear filled and he said to me.."they don't know they can walk"
I looked over at Groover and he had his eyes screwed shut... I went to him and said..."look, they don't know they can move around yet... but it wont take long I promise... They have been somewhere that was not very nice, they will get used to it here I promise... go and give one a pat.."
All three kids stroked their feathers and spoke in low cooing voices to the five chooks who Brrrk brrrked gently back at them....
Within a few weeks they were scratching and jumping excitedly at the daily veggie scraps and scratch mix... their feathers grew thick and glossy and we get a dozen eggs a week from them.
They eat the snails from the veggie patch and provide us with fertiliser, there is not any waste with our kitchen scraps anymore, and the kids adore them.
It costs us about five bucks a week to keep them...
We named them.......