I am the Chicken Lady. Coo Coo Cachoo.

So… Chickens.

You’d think from my response that I’d never seen a chicken before, though I’ll admit that I’d calmed somewhat once we’d returned home. In fact I’d almost forgotten about it until later that evening when I was sitting with my feet up and attempting to reverse stretch marks by sheer willpower alone.
The question occurred though, “Are there a lot of chickens just free-roaming the pavements of The Netherlands?” ‘cos Hubby didn’t seem to find it in the least bit unusual. I could have been bouncing up and down screeching “Gravel !! It’s Gravel !!!” for all the interest he’d shown. Mind you, if I’d pointed at the chickens and screamed “Gravel!!” I doubt very much I’d have made it any further than the Psychiatric Department. Unlike the chickens.
Google failed me with wildly differing quotes on local chicken populations ( Oh Google, how could you? After all we’ve been through together… )so I broadened my search and skipped straight to enquiring how many chickens there are in the world.

Go on, have a guess.
Amazingly nobody has actually counted them ( how very inconsiderate ) but the closest I could get was 24 billion in 2003, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Whoah.
The article also went on to say that their natural roost of choice would be trees. 23 billion chickens. In trees. Can you imagine it?
Admittedly, a huge amount of those birds are going to be stuffed in crates, knee deep in their own crap, just so we can get half priced “value” chicken breasts in a plastic foam tray. But still, the mind boggles. Or my mind did, but then I’d be the first to admit it probably came pre-scrambled anyway.
I can easily come to terms with billions & billions of ants on the planet. In fact, you expect there to be purely because of the fact they’re so tiny ( Unless they live near a nuclear testing site, if the movies are anything to go by. On a side note, Hubby once told me when we first met “Did you know that when ants die they always fall on their left side?” which as pick-up lines go lacks a little…erm… everything really. It apparently worked though as we have 2 children together, so I’m either over-impressed by implausible and possibly totally fabricated “facts” or I’m just easy. )
Chickens, however, aren’t tiny. Surely with all of that poultry in the world I should have seen ONE hen clucking broodily from the boughs of the local elm trees, but no. It suddenly seemed strange to have NOT seen more of the chubby fowl out and about for a bit of fresh air.
Next time I was at the hospital I took my camera. Lo and behold, there they were again, pecking away at random gravel ( Gravel !! ) and politeĀ  enough to pose for me. I took 15 photos. Can I find a single one? *sigh* so it’s not much of a thrilling end to Chapter 2 of the Chicken Saga. I don’t know about you but personally I’m hoping that at the very least one of the birds turns out to be either a zombie or a vampire.
Hmmm. Vampire Chicken. I should *totally* write that story.

I think I’ll just milk this story one more time…

Topic no. 14 “What made you decide to start a blog?”

I think I signed up for my first blog within 30 minutes of being online for the very first time. After all those years of writing away in diaries finally here was an opportunity to catalogue things that nobody else was interested in! In public, no less!

It was a marvellous and moving experience.
However, not so much so when I realised that to get people to read it I’d have to either :
a) Be interesting,
b) Write about them, or
c) Guilt trip my nearest and dearest into reading it by spamming them with links.

So I tried to write as much as I could, but unfortunately I have an underactive commitment gland and sooner or later each blog would wither and die through lack of attention and 5 or 6 months later a new blog would spring up in it’s place.
Then somehow I was in the right place at the right time and I saw about WP’s Post-A-Day challenge and I was hooked on the idea before I’d even looked at the details. Here at last was a chance to hone those skills, finally get a job writing, and retire early to my mansion in a forest of choice with my 8 cats, my jacuzzi, my jade green ferrari and my 1 lightly oiled pool attendant.

Has it worked? Well, it’s a bit early to say. But I’ll let you be the judge. Below is a direct c&p from a post I made on a long-since dead blog about 5 years ago.
A little info : Marco is my Hubby, Richard is my eldest son, Brandon is my newborn and I’m pregnant with my daughter. And before you comment about having a newborn *and* being pregnant already I shall just say this : Never ever buy a bulk load of condoms off eBay.

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“I’ve lived in Holland for nearly 9 months now. Marco’s lived in this flat for approximately 7 years.

During this time I’ve occasionally popped down to the local gas station as it’s literally within spitting distance, and having spent a large majority of the time pregnant or recovering from pregnancy I’ve not felt up to trekking in the opposite direction to the local mini-mart. Marco doesn’t. He finds it morally objectionable to pay an extra 50 eurocents for a loaf when he’s perfectly capable of walking to the other side of the universe, and often does.

The problem is… milk. As a Brit, I have a genetic predisposition towards tea. I don’t feel the need to always have a cuppa on the table like some, but I’ve been known to sip the odd cup or two whilst making appreciative “ahhhh… THAT’s more like it” type noises. Marco drinks his coffee black, therefore a carton of milk often goes off in our fridge before I can finish it, and as luck would have it, I usually don’t notice until I’m absolutely gasping for some Tetleys.

Cue occasional sneakage to the garage.

This is where the “Great Milk Debate” arose because I swear that at some point I went to the garage for ice cream and saw they had milk. Marco tells me they don’t sell it. Now I know that hormones have pretty much scrambled what was left of the little intellect I had, but I’m not prone to hallucinations. I know what milk looks like. I can differentiate between different cartons. I can even tell types of milk apart… and I was willing to bet my left tit that on more than one occasion I’ve been in that shop and sitting smugly amongst the other cartons were differing cartons of FRESH milk.

Conversations often went thus :

Me : “I saw the bloody milk again!”
Marco : “They don’t sell it. They’ve never sold it. Are you sure it wasn’t that long life crap?”
Me : “No. It was fresh milk. I picked it up and had a good hard look at it! It’s that stuff we buy from the supermarket!”
[short silence]
Marco : “They don’t sell fresh milk, Babe”
Me : “Yes THEY DO !!!!!”
[brief look of “oh lord, she’s totally lost her marbles” soon to be replaced by….]
Marco : “Hold on a sec…. have you been spending a fortune at that bloody garage again?”

On Friday night Marco found himself in an emergency cake-making situation ( as you do ), and was in dire need of… yes, you’ve guessed it… milk. So off he nipped and returned 5 minutes later with a carton of the long life shite. He’d obviously decided to resolve the matter once and for all, for upon seeing me wander into the kitchen for one of my 7000 daily snacks said “I asked at the garage. They told me they’ve never sold fresh milk, it goes off too quickly”

LYING GITS!!!!

I scowled a little, Marco looked sympathetic in that way only men stuck with a woman with the IQ of a non-existent milk carton can do, and the subject was dropped.

By him that is. Me… well I don’t like to be made to look stupid… and so I bided my time…..

Today I nipped down to the garage for a couple of bread rolls for lunch… and there.. MOCKING me were 6 bastard cartons of milk, sneering at me in that chilly diary produce manner and I knew this was war. Buying one of the little sods wasn’t an option.. I needed proof. So back I went to the flat, bundled Brandon into the baby sling, forced Richard into his shoes with the promise of “I’ll buy you an ice cream……” and back we went with a camera.

Et Voila! HAH !!”

Milk!

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Don’t scratch it, it just makes it worse.

“What are you looking forward to this year?” was today’s prompt.

This year is going to be my year of achievement, I’ve decided. Not the usual achievement I’m rather prone to – the achievement that occurs entirely by sheer luck. Or that other one where I mentally change all the rules half way through just to make it easier. Nope, this is going to be genuine 24 carat self-earned achievement that I shall be so overwhelmed by achieving that I casually slip it into conversation over the dinner table every night. Oh, the joy on their little faces as I bring it up for the 157th time. I can hardly wait!

So here, in no particular order, is my hastily thrown together list. It’s small, but it’s best to start off easy :

a) Blog every day for a year. I’m doing ok so far, but traditionally my crumbling point tends to be somewhere around mid-March. I think I must have 7 or 8 blogs chronicling the appalling weather in winter and not much else. To save me falling into that trap again I shall be mostly avoiding the topic. Just assume at any given point that it will be piddling down here and chances are you’d be spot on.

b)Learn Dutch to a standard whereby I can actually contribute to conversations. I’m rather fed up with standing there, grinning like a loon for 5 mins, before having to say ,”I’m sorry, what was that again?” after the usual uncomfortable pause. It’s not like I haven’t had the opportunity to learn. Hubby is Dutch, my two youngest are Dutch, my eldest can speak it pretty much fluently, and I own no less than 3 full Dutch language courses. I’ve also had plenty of incentive.

When I was pregnant with my daughter I got a rather.. intimate… infection. Had I been back in the UK I’d have popped down the Chemist, bought a pill, slapped on some cream ( though obviously I’d wait until I got home for that one ) and in no time at all I’d be able to stand at the bus stop without having to inconspicuously mince on the spot. However, I wasn’t in the UK. And if having to mime “I have vaginal thrush, could you show me where I can get cream for the itching, please?” isn’t an incentive to learn the language pretty damn quick then nothing is.

c) Do more things that I love instead of habitually putting it on the metaphorical back-burner and metaphorically forgetting about it until the smoke detector goes off ‘cos I’ve burnt a hole through the bottom and I’m metaphorically buggered. That means more film watching, more crafts, more embracing my inner child, more cat stroking, more long walks in the park,more fun!Frankly, I could pop my clogs tomorrow through something entirely unforseen like spontaneous human combustion and all I’d leave Hubby by way of remembrance would be 3 wardrobes full of fabric, buttons, wool, watercolour pencils and needle-nosed pliers. No cash, obviously, I spent that all on random craft crap off eBay.

It’s a short but do-able list. Should failure occur I shall be looking forward to spending the rest of the year attempting to deny this post ever happened… so let’s just leave it between you and me, yeah?

Chickens. Part 1 of 2534357. The Beginning.

My obsession with chickens is a relatively new development, so it’s not as if I was traumatised by a bucket of KFC when I was a toddler, and until recently I regarded poultry with pretty much the same viewpoint as every other animal-munching person on this planet ie chicken = stupid, often kept in disgustingly small cages, nice seasoned in a sandwich.

I was neither for nor against them, but they had a moderate interest factor purely because they’re farm-related and I fancy myself as a bit of an animal lover. Well, as much as any omnivore can claim to love animals. Colour me a hypocrite if you must, I’ll be over in the Corner Of Shame eating a hot bacon roll.

So this is what happened. This was the turning point. This isn’t, however, the stage at which people started thinking I was a little peculiar. That was a good few decades previously.

It was 4 years ago and I was heavily pregnant and waiting patiently at the bus stop outside the local hospital after a check up. In pregnant woman terms “waiting patiently” involves lots of sighing, a large amount of shifting from one foot to another and a smattering of giving the father of the child the look that says “And you can cut that smile out, cos you’re getting a vasectomy..!” I was grumpy, it was bitterly cold and I’d lost all feeling in my feet. Of course I just assumed I’d lost feeling and they hadn’t just snapped off in some vastly improbable freak accident, but it had been a long time since I’d seen them to verify one way or another.

So there I was, a large round ball of sunshine when I caught sight of them – 2 chickens taking a casual stroll across the car park. I must have been slack-jawed and dribbling because Hubby takes one look at me and then follows my eyeline.

“Chickens!” I exclaimed, not entirely surprisingly.

“Yes.” he said by way of reply.

The chickens continue to stroll in their nonchalant manner across the tarmac like they own the place and taking the odd peck or two at stationary BMWs. There’s silence for 30 seconds or so.

“Chickens !!” I repeat, because he quite obviously doesn’t “get it”.

“….yes….” he says again, giving me that look that says “Oh Lord, the cheese has slid off her cracker again, please please don’t let her cause another scene…”

It occurs to me at this point that he’s not entirely grasping the enormity of what I’m trying to convey… the sheer improbability of feathered livestock jauntily strolling past the pathology department. After a short think, and never once taking my eyes off the duo, I attempt to clarify the situation for him.

“Chickens !!!” Possibly not the best summing-up of a situation in history.

He’d developed that slightly nervous big grin that every man who’s experienced the joy of fatherhood and the exhilaration of a hysterically unpredictable woman in her final weeks of pregnancy will be familiar with. It’s the one that says “Please give me some sort of clue what to say that won’t instantly reduce you to tears and/or physical assault”. I appreciated the effort and tried again.

“There are chickens. In the car park. Of the hospital. In a residential area. Chickens!!!”

“Ahhhhhh!” he says, relieved, “Yes.”

[silence]

“This is The Netherlands. There are chickens everywhere,” he explains.

The birds are now standing at the bus stop with us, looking like they also are waiting for a number 73 to come along, but alas.. they make no attempt to board once it arrives. It occurs to me that this is possibly because they have no pockets for change, and I watch them as we slowly pull away from the curb on our way home.

So there you have it. That was the Genesis of my chicken obsession. Next time I shall tell you how it bloomed from a tiny seed of strangeness into a sapling of weird.