Welcome at the blog of Dini Commandeur. I've written quite a lot of columns for various magazines. I also write short stories every now and then. These columns and stories are available for everybody at this blog. I'll release new columns and stories periodically.


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Sunday 08 November 2015 We talked about it for a while. Eggs from our own hens. It seemed like so much fun, and so tasty too. And with an enormous extra profit. Our own laying hens wouldn’t have to live in a big group, so there will be less chance for deceases and our hens wouldn’t need “precautious” medication, like for example antibiotics. I didn’t only think that to be healthier for the hens, but also for us. Furthermore we could give the hens a nice life and let a little piece of country life into the city. And, it’s got something for us. So Black Saar and Red Riek came living with us. Dwarf-hen, bought with different breeders from the countryside. With us, they were condemned to a small coop and that was a pity. So, they could scratch the ground in the closed backyard.  
Hens, so we learned, are very curious. Hour after hour, they could stand near the window and look inside our house and when we went outside, they walked behind us like little dogs. It was clear that the hens had a good time with us. Scratching the backyard or waiting patiently until we came out. Sometimes in the coop, to eat or drink something. In the afternoon on roost for a siesta. They never sleep very deeply. Because with every movement outside, we see two very curious hens heads behind the plastic windows of their hen-house. Nothing escapes their attention.
But scratching the backyard is over now. We got tired of slaloming between the excrements. More than once a day we cleaned it, often with the hens behind us, who put down new dung at the same time. So cleaning was not an option and another problem was the garden. It got totally plowed by Saar and Riek, there were holes everywhere in the green. It became a mess, this couldn’t go on like this. So the coop got expanded with an outside run, including a non-toxic fern to eat from and play with. Mostly Riek used the plant often as a toy. By the way, she is the smarter one of the two. For experts, Riek is a New Hampshire dwarf-hen. Saar is a dwarf-hen from Barneveld (a famous hens place in Holland). A beautiful animal, but not too smart. In fact, they should be with the three of them, that’s what I read somewhere. Hens are group animals, two is too little. But the ones we have are very close and I’m afraid that it will not be easy for a new one to fit in. The point is that they aren’t children. You cannot teach them that life is easier when they don’t stab, annoy, provoke and hassle. That pecking order, that is actually the only disadvantage about the hens. That’s nature, people say. It’s part of hens, how pathetic that may be for the dupe. Our ladies rather be with the two of them and there is no dissonance. Saar can think outrankes Riek, but then there is Riek, if there is a difference in rank is still the question. They are always close to each other, eat together, scratching the yard together, sleeping together. In the afternoon for the nap in the sleeping cot, if they at least aren’t too busy peeking through the window. At night, side by side in the laying cot. They often play together with the feeding ball in the run. Playing a game of soccer. Saar has the ball the most of the time and Riek pecks the grain falling out of the feeding ball. Even at night it looks like they are playing soccer with the egg of lime, because that is at another place in the laying cot every time.  
Saar and Riek are living with us for a couple of months now. It was promised to us that they would lay eggs at the end of the summer. But summer is over for a while and they moulted and when moulting they don’t lay eggs at all. But moult is nearly over and we hope for eggs before winter. I have my doubts about it. “You have to pay rent,” I sometimes tell them, when I am busy with sawdust, straw, laying grains, water, gravel, mealworm, grain and so on. “Let’s start girls, do something for a living, lay some eggs.” But apparently they are too busy scratching and doing other things. The only egg they are interested in, is the egg of lime and then only for a game of soccer. “Would it ever come to eggs?” I asked an acquaintance with knowledge about this. I saw it happening: we do our utmost for these animals, but never a fresh egg. He shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know. “But otherwise you can always make soup of them?” he said with a wink. “Chicken soup is very tasty too”. And that’s true, but Saar and Riek aren’t fit to eat, that’s for sure. So be it. We wish them a long and happy life with us. With or without paying the rent.

Translated from Dutch by Astrid Kostelijk

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