Andy and I have wanted to keep laying hens for a long time. We decided this about 18 months ago, but knowing that we’d be moving to Malawi and then to Boston, thought better of investing time and money into “setting up” only to move a year later. Sadly, we temporarily shelved our dream of keeping chickens until we were more settled in the States.
When we arrived in Malawi I told Andy I wanted to get a dog, just a pet to have around, to feed our scraps to, to have as a watchdog. But then Andy had a better idea, “Why don’t we just get a few chickens?” Genius. This was the perfect opportunity to practice and see what it’s like having chickens. At the end of the four months anyone would happily take these chickens. Furthermore, the set up costs would be relatively cheap, so the financial investment would be far from onerous if the experiment crashed and burned. And even these set up costs would be offset by the money saved not buying eggs.
So we finally got our chickens a few days ago. They are beautiful – all big, brown and wonderful. It was a bit of a mission getting them home, but they are now relaxing in their new home. Although I think they were nonplussed by the 40-minute journey in a cardboard box on the back of a three-tonne truck down bumpy dirt roads.
Andy called his chicken ‘Floppy Top’ as the red bit on her head flops over. I called my chicken ‘Chimwewe’ which means “be happy” in Chichewa and Emily has called her chicken, ‘Good News’. This is sort of an inside joke. A friend of ours here has a son called ‘Good News’ and we have loved this name for months. We’ve kept the hens inside for a couple days just to let them get adjusted and I think we will let them out today. We’ve had two eggs so far!
Yesterday, Andy and I had the first two eggs with breakfast. We each had a thick slice of bread, toasted and well buttered with a fried egg on top. We swear, it did taste better, but I’m sure most of that is in our mind. But I think knowing what my hens eat, how they live and how well we treat them (yes, I go in the chicken house and talk to and pet them), this is what makes them taste better.