I bought a galvanised hen drinker from a dear old Wiltshire man a couple of days ago. He’d found a stash of them in the back of his dreadful old shed, and thought he’d make an honest penny by flogging them. I needed a new one ever since Tallboy (enormous, ancient polo pony) trod on ours by mistake. I’ll never know what a very large horse was doing in the hen run, and he was so old and sweet that I didn’t make an issue of it. But from then on the hens have refreshed themselves out of a saucepan, which gives the hen run that ‘tinkers backyard’ look.
So when I saw an advert on a dog-eared postcard in the Post Office which said “Hen Drinkers ten quid”, written in wobbly pencil, the moment seemed right to restock. I knew the address, one of those cottages which look very picturesque from the outside as long as you don’t have to go inside. All thatch, and tiny windows, and rising damp. He came shambling out, and we went and admired his line of hen drinkers and they were very nice. In fact mine seems new. Somebody in his family at some stage obviously had an obsessive hen drinker habit, and just couldn’t go past a farming shop without laying another one in.
So all was fine and dandy. I produced a ten pound note and picked up the hen drinker and – here is the point of this blog, stick with me – he spat copiously on his hand and offered it to shake. Yuuuuuuuuuk!!! Complete, utter gross-out!!!
What on earth do you do? What would YOU do? Here is this sweet elderly chap with his hen drinkers, pleased at a sale and wanting to seal the deal in the traditional way. And there was his leathery palm covered in spit being shoved in my direction.
Well I’ll tell you what I did. I shut my eyes and shook on it. Our hands met with a squelch, and I walked away with a happy smile while he waved at me over his picturesquely rotting fence. Then the second I was out of his sight, I wiped my hand on grass until it nearly came off. Then I rushed home and soaked it in Dettol.
And the funny thing is that while I was walking away, my hand covered in slime, I was thinking: “well at least I can write about this in my blog!” Sure enough, it’s been very therapeutic, so thank you for that. And the hens just love their new drinker. So on that positive and wholesome note: HAPPY EASTER!!!