There are many things you consider when you set out to keep chickens. You might spend quite some time poring over different housing options, where you will site your new feathered friends and just how much of your garden you are willing to lose to the marauding hordes. Yep, lots to consider. But I bet you forgot something. In fact, I can guarantee it.
The thing everyone overlooks when they enter the world of poultry keeping is that of attire. Sure, you assume that it's probably not a good idea to attend to your ladies while wearing a ballgown, but beyond that you probably haven't considered. Well, fear not. After three years of trying to keep order with my unruly lot, I can now bring you the definitive Madchickenlady Collection.
You will need enclosed footwear. It doesn't matter if it's July and 30C, you enter a chicken pen with bare toes at your peril. Sure, chicken poo is unpleasant between the toes. But you know what's worse? A chicken mistaking your toes for something edible. If you don't see them coming, a sneaky hen can get a really good grip and pull technique going on, and you will scream like a child. The screaming and hopping will intrigue the others, and before you know it you will be a chicken buffet. So, keep those toes covered. And only a total idiot goes near hens with bare painted toenails. They will think you're a fruit delicacy, you will cry.
Moving up the body, it's best to wear trousers. Bare legs, especially if you have any moles, invite curious pecking. Again, it's the surprise attack that will have you jumping back over the poo bucket and landing on your bum in a most undignified manner. So trousers are a must. The shoes and trousers can vary hugely in style, and you get extra points if you wear, say, wellies with pyjama bottoms. Do not attempt to match or coordinate in any way. Your audience will not care. Now we come to the most importat item in our collection: the chicken coat.
This coat will be your best friend. It will protect you from pecking, random curry poos and the biting cold of a January morning. It should be a little too big for you, so that you can wear multiple layers underneath. It should have a hood, to try and protect you from the howling November winds and driving rain. It should have deep pockets that you can store various chook appeasing treats in as well as concealing any medicines/treatments that the little darlings will be less keen to experience. Ideally, it will be a sort of fungus hue. Most chickenny excretions fall in to this mushroomy category, so a muddy/grey/beige/mustardy kind of coat is ideal for concealing hideousness. Think of your chicken coat like a surgeon's scrubs. It is there to catch all manner of unmentionables while providing a barrier between you and the utter horror that the chicken is in the process of evacuating. It should be washable, and quick drying. After all, you will need it again before you know it. It will also require it's own hanging space, well away from any other coat or jacket. It will often smell bad.
Last but not least, do make sure that you have some heavy duty gardening gloves. Sometimes you will have to do unpopular things to members of your flock. They will, understandably, want to show their displeasure. Never underestimate the ouch factor of a well placed peck.
So now you can visualise the whole Madchickenlady Collection. A pair of wellies, some pyjama bottoms, several layers comprising of pyjama top, shirt and jumper, and the key piece: the chicken coat, complete with various suspicious stains. Don't forget the gloves.
Strike a pose.