500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Milford and Hakin


Balut is a popular dish in some parts of the world – it basically consists of an unhatched chick.  As the start to a post about chickens, this may give you some hint about the kind of day I’m having. Somehow the fact that billions of chickens are annually reared and slaughtered around the world does not make it easier when we suffer a death here.  I am on a farm, in the countryside. I need to get used to death as a fact of life in order to survive – mentally rather than physically – as we can survive very well with eggs, sprouted lentils, potatoes and nettles as staples.

The practice of giving up eggs for Lent used to confuse me – why eggs – of all things.  The real reason is simple. If you give up eggs for lent, your chickens will be able to hatch a new brood of baby chicks – providing ample meat and eggs for the rest of the year.  It’s interesting that Christianity colonised and incorporated earlier customs in this way – and after a while we forgot the purpose of them.  Chickens have been an important part of human existence for a very long time – this is clear from the many many turns of phrase we have which relate to them.

Yesterday we had a host of hens and potential chicks… now we have just two babies -one of which has a problem with it’s legs.  Today, a fox visited after I let the hens out in the morning – one Cream Leghorn is now on her way to soup heaven, and I have no idea if any of the others escaped.  Of the eggs, only one managed to make his way out of the egg without help. Two died in their shells – one after sticking out it’s beak and peeping for over 24 hours without moving and the other before it stuck it’s beak out.  There are two still completely in the shells – one I have heard making a tweeting noise but it’s not pushed it’s beak out, and the other is silent – we’ve not heard a peep (literally – this is the origin of the saying I suspect – listening for the peeping sound in eggs).

The first to hatch was Hakin La Fleche – he is a fine, strong little chick, but rather fond of pecking poor Milford on the head.  A pecking order of just two. Milford Lakenvelder is cute and yellow and fluffy – but I took him out of his shell after he’d made no progress in 24 hours – they’re supposed to be out in 12 – and his legs are not right – he’s doing his best to hop about – also his abdomen looks bad – we’ll see how long he lasts. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

As an adult I’ve always been somewhat vegetarian – either no meat, or only poultry – however as it’s been difficult in the past to find free-range chicken in the Czech Republic – I’d been vegetarian completely for a while. We recently found a free-range farm which sells humanely treated – if expensive – meat which I’m comfortable eating.  Likewise I’m not going to kill our chickens to eat them, however, in theory, those who have been killed by accident – for example by a fox, I’m happy to eat.  In reality, I’m sad to eat, but eat I will. I draw the line at Balut, though the dog does not share my high moral standards.

“Milford and Hakin are named after the home towns of Phil and Sam – our visitors from Wales.



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