Friday, 19 June 2015
Following last week’s tale of the heroic pig-cum-family-member it would be remiss of me indeed if I failed to enlighten you with regard to my recent encounter with another habitué of the farm yard. As is my wont I was proceeding at a leisurely pace early one morning along the A21 in rural Kent. In fact I was seeing how many miles to the gallon I could eke out of a full tank of diesel, in the typical fashion of many a man-of-a-certain-age; a penny saved is a penny earned you know!
Anyway, there I was, 56mph and clocking around eighty to the gallon when I saw a vague figure in my rear-view mirror, gradually catching up with me. At first I thought it was a cyclist but, come on, a pushbike pushing sixty? As it got nearer however I became confused; it wasn’t a motorbike and it certainly wasn’t a car… and there was a lot of flapping around the edges of its outline. I slowed a little to allow it to approach all the faster, but it wasn’t until it was alongside me and going past that I could see clearly that it was in fact an oversized chicken. A chicken which looked across at me, winked and then sped off into the distance.
This was first thing in the morning. I hadn’t touched a drop the night before and I’m not on any hallucinatory medication, but it was definitely a chicken. I gave chase and had to get up to seventy five before I started to reel in the yards. A bloody huge chicken with – and this was the part that I doubted the most – at least three legs. Before I could get much closer though and without any warning – they don’t fit yard birds with trafficators – it veered off up a slip road and it was all I could do to brake hard and make the exit myself. I had to get to the bottom of this.
Five miles later and struggling to keep up round the winding lanes I saw the feisty fowl disappear into a farm entrance and I followed, coming to an undignified and untidy halt in a dirt yard. I got out of the car, the dust swiring all about and looked around for the chicken. No joy, but then a voice came from behind me. “Can oi ‘elp you, old son?” I turned to see an old man of the soil, leaning on a five bar gate and stereotypically chewing on a barley straw. I dusted myself down and explained, not without a degree of embarrassment and uncertainty, what I thought I’d seen.
He laughed “Oh yur, that’s wun of our chickens alroight.” When I failed to find an adequate comeback he continued. “You know ‘ow it is,” he said, “I loikes a leg, the woife loikes a leg and my boy, he loikes a leg an’ all. It seemed such a shame wringing the necks of two chickens of a Sunday, so we breeds ‘em with three.” I was astonished and had I not seen one with my very eyes I would have assumed I was about to be the butt of a terrible punchline. But I recovered my composure enough to ask another question.
Ah said, ah said, say there, boy!
“That’s ingenious,” I said, “but tell, me are they as tasty as a standard roaster?” He sighed and spat out the straw. His shoulders visibly sagged and he looked in pain as he took a deep breath and replied. “No idea.” he shrugged “We’ve never managed to catch one!”