Life On A Chicken Farm

It is only on approaching the chicken houses that a musty, organic smell seeps through shiny wire and threatens to stop you in your tracks. 

Life begins in a hatchery where eggs are cautiously warmed and turned until the chicks are ready to fracture their fragile houses. They burst, tiny and bare-bodied with only an embarrassingly poor excuse for feathers stuck to the skin but each baby, nobly fighting for survival. With every day the birds grow stronger on our African soil, breathing in the sun, inhaling their feed and scrabbling in red dust. My neighbours seem happy, if a little odorous.

Our house rations proffer three chickens a week. There is a certain satisfaction knowing the chicken has travelled just two hundred yards to its waiting roasting tin.  

Yesterday I quartered thirty ripe tomatoes and peeled eighteen cloves of garlic. They sat making friends for more than six hours. I ground more pepper than was needed, picked some basil from the patch and added it to the tin.

A sharp knife sliced the chicken into eight and a hot frying pan branded the skin golden. The oven was set to high and the tomatoes sat, covered for just under sixty minutes. I fried three onions, which incidentally made me cry far more than their English counterparts, and stirred them through the broken tomatoes. The golden chicken was rested on top and the whole lot returned to the oven for its final few minutes. More salt, more pepper, more basil.

My farm recipe tasted fresh and simple and we ate commenting, more than once, on the smugly small carbon footprint.