Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Construction of Stalag Luft 112B

Over the last few months the ongoing battle between man and poultry (specifically, between me and our two new ladies, Pecky and Goldie) has reached new heights.

In particular, these young ladies are a lot more gymnastic than the previous incumbents. To be even more specific, it rapidly turned out that they were perfectly capable of jumping up on to the fence surrounding the chicken run, and hopping over into the garden. This meant they effectively had the run of the garden.

Now, this meant that there was chicken poo all over the place. This was the reason we had had the run built in the first place, and so it was a bit of a blow that they basically ignored it. However, it wasn't a complete disaster - it just meant that we had to expand the weekend poo patrol to cover the entire garden.

We'd sort of grudgingly accepted that they were going to escape regularly, and resigned ourselves to not walking in the garden in our bare feet again, when the chickens stepped it up a notch. They decided to push that envelope, expand their horizons, and generally irritate me. And so they started going to visit the neighbours.

The first we knew of this was when we got a phone call from our elderly neighbour, asking if we knew that one of our chickens was in her back garden. So we went to retrieve it.

We then noticed that one of them had got into the garden on the other side of us. We had to go and knock on the door and ask if we could have our chicken back.

"Right", I thought, "that's it! I'm improving security on the run, and you're never getting out again!".

And so I added some temporary mesh to raise the height of the fence. We went from this:

To this:

The chickens bided their time. They plotted. They schemed. They drew up intricate plans involving a vaulting horse. And in due course, they started escaping again. One of them made it two gardens away before being ratted-out by a neighbour. I swear one of them was taking the mickey out of the cat, who was staring with rage out of the patio door at it. But the final straw was when one evening the doorbell rang. When I answered, a bloke from down the road was there, and he said "'Ere mate, is that one of yours?". And sure enough, one of our Warrens was striding with magnificent nonchalence down the pavement outside our house.

At this point I went completely Basil Fawlty. I went to the local DIY shop and stocked up on wooden battens, plastic mesh, cable ties, and screws, and built this:

Since building this, there have been no escapes. But I don't trust those chickens, they're definitely up to something. I've seen 'Chicken Run', I know what they're capable of.

All of this construction work, not to mention the time involved, means that the per-unit cost of our eggs is now approaching the gross national debt of a small country in the developing world. I try not to think about this too much.