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Please don’t mention the word “poultry” in my presence.
Of course I blame the lovely Snapdragon. She came up with the idea that we should keep quails in our backyard. “Egg really wants little mini chickens and it will be educational,” she said.
I thought it was a great idea – I’ve always dreamt of raising free-ranging chickens in an old-fashioned kitchen garden with herbs and vegetables, but our patch of townhouse land is much too small.
I – or we, as three-year-old Egg claims – spent a day building a little coop and the next day we bought the only four quails from a bird farm on the West Rand.
They lasted exactly a day. Sweetpea the Boston terrier figured out how to open the coop and promptly killed two. The other two escaped into the neighbours’ gardens and despite Snapdragon and I running around the complex in our pyjamas, we couldn’t recapture them.
According to the internet, they can fly “short distances”. Our quails didn’t read the internet – they flew like racing pigeons.
“Don’t worry, Daddy will catch them,” Snapdragon told Egg as she hid two mauled quail carcasses in the dustbin. “Yes,” I said and jumped into my car.
“No,” the young man at a pet shop in Dainfern told me after two hours of fruitless searching in a dozen garden centres. “You won’t find any of those little quails anywhere – it’s not their breeding season. But there will be a lot available from the end of February.”
“I need Quails URGENTLY!”
“Relax,” he said. “Nobody needs quails urgently.”
“Do you have a three-year-old?” I asked. “Stop being a wise guy and tell me where I will be able to get four quails!”
“Rude people in pyjamas shouldn’t be allowed to keep pets,” he said, but mentioned a place on the other side of Pretoria. “They hatch their own eggs.”
I got a speeding ticket on the way to Wonderboom. And on the way back I got stuck in a traffic jam. But a good father will do anything for his child.
Egg didn’t even look at the new quails, but Snapdragon had the most gorgeous smile.
“They’re not for her, are they?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said. She really loves those birds.
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