Boys and their games, dogs playing with chooks and chooks thinking they’re dogs ... that’s life with two dogs, eight chooks and three boys.
Our two dogs are pure love, forever wanting to be with us. Yet both have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Blue-eyed pooch will not leave you alone outside, dropping her ball onto your lap, into the clothes basket or into sauce on your plate after a barbeque dinner. Then, she waits, with her head pitched high and big, blue eyes fixed possessed on the ball, until it's airborne and she bounds across the yard to fetch it and bring it immediately back for another throw. If you don’t play her obsession, she’ll snatch the ball in her jaws and dash to the next person. Then panting heavily and after many runs, she’ll splash into the fish pond to cool off.
Brown-eyed pooch is the princess of the household. If she’s not on someone’s lap, anyone’s lap, she’s sweeping the kitchen floor for anything dropped, or breaking into the chook pen to eat the chook’s food scraps. Holes in the chook pen have been crocheted with wire too many times to count. She’s the one too, who likes to chase the chooks and dodge them merrily when they taunt her. Both of the little dears howl whenever a chook clucks as it lays an egg or whenever boy two plays his violin.
Chooks can have personalities bigger than their little bodies. Our eight live in a chook pen and garden in the corner of our suburban block. They regularly roam free around the backyard. We say they live in 'chook heaven’.
Our speckled Plymouth hurt her leg years ago and is now our disabled chook that hobbles around the yard. Our bantam wants to be a mother and can sit on eggs that spread from under her and can never become babies. No roosters allowed in suburbia.
One of our Isa Browns thinks she’s a dog or possibly Houdini, and escapes from the pen by jumping up into a big Chinese elm tree and flapping over the fence. She waddles over to eat dog biscuits with the dogs or to the clothesline with the dogs and I, to scratch around our feet. Sometimes, if our escape artist has gone through an unrepaired hole instead of over the fence, the other chooks jump through after her in single file to scuttle across the yard and peck at dog biscuit crumbs.
At the top of the menagerie hierarchy, are the boys. They adore the dogs. Number three boy loves them so much that he scoots on his hands and knees over bare floorboards after them, stopping occasionally to lick me as they lick him. One late night, boys one and two found boy three asleep in the corner of the dining room where the dogs lay when we eat. When asked the next morning why he slept there on hard wooden floors, he replied that he wanted to see what it felt like to sleep where the dogs slept.
Number two boy is akin to brown-eyed dog, sitting and lazing about on bean bags, not moving unless he must. The manner in which they eat too is alike, both chewing meat repeatedly until finally minced enough to swallow.
Number one boy, well he’s something all on his own. He printed a t-shirt with an image of himself and gave it to boy two for his birthday last week, along with a broken-chained, tiny bike found dumped with in a lane. He makes short films on things like how to ride a scooter, pointing out all safety elements before scooting over a ramp to fall flat on his back. We laughed for days on that one.
But it’s not all fairy floss and lollies in our menagerie. One time, one of the chooks, a Hamburg, perched on the gate that led into the chook garden. As the gate was being shut, she slipped and fell between two palings of wood. Needles to say, her life ended quickly, and tears flowed.
With chooks out for a nosey peek and a bask in freshly dug holes in the sun, pets chasing one another in circles, and dogs sneaking into the chook pen to rummage over leftover food scraps or rest on boys in hammocks and on bean bags, it’s sometimes like watching an old, unfashionable movie or cartoon to the tunes of howls and cackles.
My menagerie of mayhem is mine and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. To me, it’s love in its purest form.