Jo Davison: Birthday treat from Marilyn and Sophia

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I got my heart’s desire on my 50th birthday.

I got my heart’s desire on my 50th birthday.

I got chickens.

I’d wanted some for years, but Bloke had steadfastly refused. My fault; when we got the dog, I’d looked him straight in the eye and vowed to take my turn with the 8am poo-scooping.

But then my morning routine clashed with the dog’s and the adult who takes but four minutes to be showered, dressed and presentable copped for the daily duty. He always swore he was not going to cop for the foul bits of chicken-rearing, too.

But on my birthday morn, the little love walked me down the garden path (again) to a little wooden shack that had been mouldering away for years. He’d discovered it was a hen house, scrubbed it up and stuck a big lilac ribbon on it. And our next stop was a chicken farm in Oxspring!

I got to choose; we now have a Silkie Sussex Cross, a Blue Belle, a Black Rock, a Light Sussex and a Warren. I can’t tell you which is which, though I can tell you their names.

I’d always dreamed of having chickens named after the tough old birds in Corrie. But once the time came, as it always does with us Rotherham lasses, glamour won out. My beautiful ladies deserved nothing less.

There’s a creamy one with a comb that flops over one eye like a side-swept fringe; she is, of course, Marilyn Monroe.

A sleek dark grey bird with a glorious, golden chest is Sophia Loren. And their pals on the perch are the equally lovely Ursula (as in Andress), Zsa-Zsa and Dolly Parton.

They are amazing. Already, their personalities are evident. They seem to be living up to their namesakes. Dolly is a timid little country hick, while Marilyn is a big on confidence as she is on ambition. She’s the first at the food dish and already attempting to fly the coop,

To my eggcitement, we got an egg within hours. I accused Bloke of planting an imposter but then, each day, another perfect little egg, of a slightly different hue to the last, has arrived. I’d love to know which bottom they came out of.

Oh, it all seemed so ridiculously easy, until I started reading a book on chicken-rearing. I flew into a panic. We were doing it all wrong. Was there any grit in the food he bought them? Bloke hadn’t a clue. Could we be over-feeding them, not giving them enough sunlight, exercise and TLC, I asked. It’s all crucial to chickens. It says so in the book.

When I accused him of borderline chicken negligence for stuffing their bedroom with straw instead of softwood shavings, he cut me dead. I didn’t even get to tell him we need to check for crop and gizzard impaction and that the girls could do with a bigger home, with proper laying boxes and a dust bath en suite. “All I’ve done is give you something else to worry about. As if your son and the dog aren’t enough,” he said.

It’s true. I daren’t tell him that every morning when he goes off to let them out, I’m terrified he’ll return white as a sheet to tell me there’s been a fox-on-chicken massacre in the night. He’ll think I’m cracked.