All In It Together Farm was on its uppers. Everyone said so. Especially Mr Shiny the farmer. He looked at his chickens in their long gleaming barn. He addressed them. He wasn’t sure why. To him they were simply production units. Yet something, perhaps something his father or maybe his grandfather, had instilled in him once upon a time, continued to suggest to him that it was something he should at least pay lip service to.

‘Happy beasts make rich pickings.’ Was a phrase that came to mind now and again. Of course he had the latest interactive music and soothing sounds technology installed so he didn’t need to do that. But just occasionally he felt the need to talk to something, anything that wasn’t a machine. So today it was the chickens’ turn.

‘Morning ladies.’ He said. Just because they were in cages and stupid didn’t mean you had to let your own standards of civility drop he reasoned.

They cackled welcomingly at him. At least that was what he heard. If he had been able to speak chicken he would have not basked in the glow of his imagined reception.


‘Oh God he’s back! Watch out girls, lay something or he’ll be back with the emptiers.’


‘Why can’t the fat git leave us alone? Its bad enough being cooped up in here without him droning on about his problems.’

Was a more representative sample of what the chickens were saying.

Fortunately for Mr Shiny’s self esteem, he had not the faintest idea what animals of any variety said or thought. His cows were in a concrete bovine support unit and his sheep were herded by a Romanian chap on a quad bike, cheaper than keeping a sheep dog and less fuss he had found. Thus his personal life was animal free. Personally he didn’t like animals. And as for plants…

So he spoke to the chickens out of his own need not any desire to genuinely interact. No, his communication was definitely one way.

‘The thing is ladies, we are in a bit of a pickle really. It looks like we won’t be getting any EU money shortly and I’ll probably have to let Nicolai or whatever is his name is go. Can’t really claim his abilities are special, after all a dog used to do most of his job. So we’ll have no-one to fill your feed hoppers either, unless I can get one of the layabouts from the Britannia Estate to come and do it on a zero hours jobby.’

The hens who had continued their clucking as they got on with eating, fell silent at that piece of news. Mr Angle noticed the change in noise level and looked quickly around to see if anything untoward was happening that he had not seen. Satisfied that there was nothing out of the ordinary occurring he looked back at his production units.

‘So we might have to get rid of you lot and put in a zip wire and a beetle bank or something. Can’t make enough out of them bloody supermarkets just selling food can I? Let them Europeans do it, shiftless sods.’

With that he got out his iPhone and checked a satellite picture that showed some weeds growing up in the cereals by the 40 acre. He walked out of the barn to get on his desk top and direct a spraying drone to zap the little green bastards. The practice he had got on ‘Nuke PyongYang II, This time it’s Fun’ would prove handy he thought as he slammed the door shut behind him.

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