Over dinner she told us about her chickens - ex-layers from the nearby battery chicken farm. If she was a different sort of person she might have talked about rescuing them.
She sees them as a good deal. You can buy an ex-layer for two bucks, apparently - the battery farms are glad to get rid of them. "They still lay everyday." she said, "good big eggs, too."
There are problems, though, for the chickens adjusting to their new lifestyle. "Their beaks are all filed down" she told us, "and they don't know how to drink or eat at first because they're used to being fed with tubes. They can't stand up, either - their claws are all weird and they keep falling off their perches.
At first her husband hadn't liked the two dollar chooks and wondered why they couldn't have normal specimens like everyone else. They aren't very attractive, after all. All their feathers have been plucked out and don't grow back. They don't behave like normal chickens either and have no sense of the pecking order. They don't understand, for instance, that when scraps are thrown out the back door that the dog gets first go at them and that the chickens are supposed to hang back and wait until he's done. Dumb chickens. But she had insisted that it was the two dollar chickens that she wanted and with time her husband grew fond of them, protective even. It's him, in the end, who picks them up whenever they fall from their perches (which is often) and patiently reattaches them, spreading out their claws so they'll develop a better grip.
She woke one morning to hear him swearing outside her window. "He'd run over two of them. Stupid creatures didn't know that you have to move when a car comes."
He was in tears, apparently, and could only be consoled by an immediate trip to the battery farm for a couple more two dollar chooks.