Tuesday, November 8, 2011

R.I.P David Bowie

Which stands for "Rest In Pieces", by the way.

Not David Bowie the glam-rock icon, of course. What kind of eejit expects breaking news about one of the biggest names in modern music history to crop up in the obscure online diary of a Tasmanian writer? No: David Bowie the chicken. The Silky Bantam, to be precise.

Longtime readers will recall that some time ago, my wife decided that our three kids should have the divine joy of raising a baby chick each, to go with our regular, amiable Australorp eggmachines. She acquired some Silky Bantam eggs from a so-called 'friend' (friends don't let friends raise bantam chickens) and after a few unpleasantries, three chicks were duly hatched.

And they got names. I think. The Mau-Mau named hers 'Cutie Chick'. 'Cutie Chick' expired pretty early, a victim of Too Much Love, I suspect.

Jake... I can't remember the name of Jake's bird. But unfortunately, it was a cockerel. And if you know anything about bantam roosters, you know that you don't even try to keep them around kids. Not if you want your kids to keep their eyesight. Jake's bird eventually fell victim to high-velocity lead poisoning, and it is very telling to note that Jake was not in the least upset.

The final bird was 'David Bowie', so named by the ever-enigmatic Genghis. Apparently it had to do with the chicken's hairstyle - reminiscent of the wig worn by the real Bowie in his turn as the Goblin King, in the film Labyrinth. And to be honest, there really was a resemblance.

David Bowie did well. She never really managed to get along with the Three Fat Sisters, but she found a comfortable niche of her own in the chookyard, and took to turning out very credible bantam eggs on a daily basis. Genghis was delighted, and didn't seem at all concerned that "David Bowie" turned out to be female.

Tragically, David Bowie is no more. Sometime last week, Natalie went down to the pen and found a puff of silky bantam feathers, and no more. We didn't know the cause, but since then, the Three Fat Sisters have also been killed, one at a time.

We have a quoll in the area, it would seem.

Quolls are right bastards around chickens. The Dept of Primary Industries website says: " The best protection against these persistent predators is a 1.5 m high, well-footed, paling, corrugated iron or mesh pen; the latter with a roof, "floppy-top" or electric wire."

There's no way I'm going electric, so it looks like it's time to go nuts and rebuild the chookyard. One and a half metres all the way around, floppy-top fencing... great.

It's not like I didn't have enough to do already. But chooks are important. They do such a fantastic job of clearing up table scraps and cooking fallout... and those free-range eggs are fantastic.

I suppose I'll have to start tomorrow. Today it's grey and wet and rainy, and besides, I have to teach classes this afternoon/evening. But tomorrow's a new day.

Ave, David Bowie. The New Chookyard will rise upon the site of the old, and it shall Be Fiendishly Secure. The new inhabitants shall know your name, and speak of you with honour for your sacrifice!