The reptilian glare of a chicken is quite off-putting. Chickens seem so alien, compared to other birds – robins and blackbirds – with their exaggerated walk and scaly legs, and that beady eye. It’s so very hard to imagine that anyone would come to love them, but love them we do, those of us who have them pottering about the garden, making their little chit-chat pootling noises. Their curiosity is so engaging, their contentment so infectious, their desire to hang around when you’re out gardening. I once tried to weed a very small parterre of box that within 5 minutes of starting off contained many weeds, me, 8 chickens and two guinea fowl. It is an immensely inefficient way to garden, but there’s no better.
And now the badger has come and taken the lot. The badgers are hungry these days, with cubs to care for, so I can’t be angry, but I do miss those birds so very very much. A garden without a chicken is really only half a garden.