Do read the tale of a special Chicken Christmas Card. This card is not for sale you can buy chicken card from the Hens Welfare Trust.
“I’ll come over and visit” I confirmed, “just for the day and we can catch up, gossip and drink tea.”
“That great” she replied “and when you come over you can help me out with something.”
Driving down the M40 that Sunday morning I speculated about what help might be needed. Knowing my friend is self-sufficient; organised and very able I could only image that it was something that needed a spare pair hands. I did not imagine how many personalities would be involved.
After the first cuppa, some scones and a rapid exchange of news, negotiations began.
“Can you help me decorate this Christmas tree” she asks, producing a small artificial tree.
“Course I can, hand over the baubles” and we get to work.
“I know you are a photographer” she asserted, “Can you take a picture for me?”
“Course I can – where you do want to stand?”
“Weeelll – it’s not just me, I want to do something special outside”
Hundreds of possibilities flash through my head. What is she going to ask me to photograph. Oh no, I hope it is not a glamour shot. (I should point out that I have a gorgeous and attractive friend, it’s just that I don’t take glamour shots)
We go outside, cups in hand and wandered over to the chicken run.
My friend is a vegetarian and an animal lover. Included in the family are the hens.
The hens have been rescued from a horrible life and an early death. Previously they were battery hens, kept in tiny, filthy, dirty cages, under artificial light, unable to rest; with their own excrement burning their skin & feathers. Their only release from the conditions and the boredom was to peck and maim one another. They were kept in these conditions only while they laid an egg a day. As soon as they stopped laying they were sent to be slaughtered and thankfully for the lucky few they are intercepted, cared for and find a new life.
I have met the hen family members before and was surprised to hear there were some “new girls” We went over to have a look. Nothing prepares you for the sight of a hen that has just come out of a battery farm. To say they are a mess is an understatement and when you see them next to ex-battery hens that are thriving it hits you hard.
Getting over my initial shock I realised that these new hens were going to be loved and cared for. They looked repulsive now but given time and help these girls would be more than ok. They have been rescued.
“So shall we get on with it then” I am gently brought back to my task.
“What I want is a picture of the hens and the christmas tree to use as a christmas card.”
Imagine my relief “So that’s what you want me to take a picture of” I say, starting to smile. “Easy – no problem at all”.
No problem at all – Ha! Twenty minutes later we are still trying to coral the healthy chickens that have defiantly recovered their zest for life. Entice them with meal worms and tasty treats and get them to stand near the tree. At the same time, to persuade the new girls that it’s ok; christmas trees don’t bite and they really won’t hurt you.
And we need more hands – five chickens; one camera; and treats. It cannot be done with two hands.
Not only that but standards are high. The picture must have all the chickens and the tree (did I mention it was decorated with chicken baubles) and of course be in focus.
Exasperated, hot, bothered and ready to give up I am grovelling in the undergrowth pleading with a chicken when the cavalry arrive. Two extra pairs of hand, two calm heads and a can do attitude.
In a jiffy the cast is assembled, the tree is adjusted and I zoom, snap and zoom, snap frantically hoping for one good shot.
Later over another cuppa with more scones we download, crop and upload the chosen image. You can see all the girls’ faces, they are in focus and with the addition seasons greetings it is the perfect christmas card.