The fireworks started before dark and when I went to close the chickens at dusk I found they were sitting high up in the Ngaio tree. I tried to entice them down but when darkness fell I gave up. To protect my animals from stoats, hedgehogs, cats, dogs and all the wild things, real or imaginary, that roam the back yard at night I make sure that everyone is in and closed up properly. After a final check around the yard, with the racket of the fireworks still going on all around, I went to bed, hoping that nothing would get at my chickens.
At 1 am Alvin, the rooster, perched high in the tree, bathed in bright moonlight as well as the light of a new street lamp and fireworks still going, looked out over ‘his’ valley and registered his joy by crowing. The rejoicing went on and on. Every crow louder and clearer than the preceding one and probably heard by neighbours kilometers away. Mrs Back Yard Farmer, a light sleeper, started muttering at the initial crow, the mutterings grew louder and transformed into threats regarding wrung necks and then degenerated into some impressive swearing in at least two languages. By 4 am Mrs BYF had enough. It was when she rose from her bed like the proverbial phoenix, incandescent with rage, I realised that I did not take into account the most dangerous wild thing that could roam the back yard – an angry Mrs BYF. Armed with a few brooms and the flashlight on her phone she braved the dark, wet steps at the back door, located the rooster in the tree and threw brooms at him until he fluttered to the ground and took refuge under the coop. Mrs BYF, thinking her job was done, started the perilous journey back to the house only to hear a loud crow behind her. This time she tried to find the rooster, intending to murder him if she got her hands on him, throwing stuff at him as she went.
By daybreak Mrs BYF had returned to her bed and I pretended to be dead. Should there ever be a repeat of this Guy Fawkes night I am certain that the only thing that will save my neck is the lack of a big enough pot. The rooster will be cooked.