Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or a man assaulted by a rooster. The Hunk from Hunua didn’t even see the cockerel coming. He was heading out to the clothesline to hang out his washing (we’re not married yet) when our adolescent rooster cornered him between a rock wall and a hard place. He tried to fend him off with his foot. But the rooster was in the mood for a fight. He crowed. He flapped. Then he attacked. The Hunk lost his balance, tripped over the laundry basket and landed on his back. It should have ended there but roosters don’t play fair. They’ll peck a man even when he’s down.

When I arrived home, minutes later, the Hunk was huffing off towardsthe orchard with a rifle in one hand, a fish filleting knife in the other. “Rooster. Is. Going. To. Die,” he explained. (I’ve edited out the expletives.)

I argued for a stay of execution. It’s not his fault, I said. Teenage testosterone is making him territorial. And anyway, I need to buy a bottle of Burgundy before I can make coq-au-vin.
As the cunning sod made his escape, swaggering off through the fruit trees, the Hunk set his telescopic sights on our free-range hens. They’d gone off the lay. It was a clear breach of contract. We feed them mash; they feed us eggs. That’s the deal. But we hadn’t had so much as an omelette in a month, whereas they were still getting through a 25kg bag of Peck N Lay each week. And let’s not forget the 8kg bag of Puppy Chow they stole from the stables. They ate $31 worth of dog food in less than 30 minutes.

I negotiated a ceasefire. Give the chooks a few more weeks, I said. Let’s just corral them – out of sight, out of mind – on the bank below the water tank. The Hunk put down his gun and grabbed a hammer. As he rigged up a rooster-proof fence, I poked my head into the old pump shed.

Turns out our girls hadn’t gone off the lay at all. Inside the shed there were 39 eggs piled up on a plank. One was still warm. I took it indoors. The other 38 could be a bit dubious, not that the dogs care. Scrambled eggs make a nice change from Puppy Chow.