Just a few days to go to the Oscars of the Borders poultry scene – The Peebles and District Poultry and Bantam 27th Championship Show this Sunday.
Competitors and judges from all parts of Scotland and some parts of Englandshire will converge on the community centre at Walkershaugh and shoe-horn themselves in to witness some of the finest birds around scoop some very prestigious prizes.
And it is a shoe-horn job – the community centre is, as they say, quite snug. Perhaps on non-show days it is a cavernous facility with just the odd handful of Scouts dibbing and dobbing aboot in it.
On show days it is hot and stuffy, packed with around 1,000 birds of every shape, size and breed. If you are even slightly feather-phobic, steer well clear. Ditto if you have sensitive hearing. There is cackling, squawking, quacking, clucking, gobbling and lots and lots of crowing.
The noise of the constantly competing cockerels’ crows (ooh, get me, full fathom five thy father lies) is something else – something else to drive you demented in amongst the general racket.
If you have never experienced the crow of a bantam cockerel, it can be ear-splittingly loud and high-pitched. Like an ordinary-sized cockerel crowing while sucking helium and using a microphone when it’s throat’s sore. Incredible. That’s one reason we don’t have bantams. And it’s a very good one.
We usually just enter the egg classes. Our eggs do well, but the hens which lay them, bless, are such mongrels and misfits that they wouldn’t even win a raffle. So eggs it is.
We have spent the last couple of weeks selecting the eggs for the 12 egg classes we’ve entered. Yes, 12. As many as that I hear you say, dear (handful of) readers. Well, in fact, dear readers, there are 36 egg classes in total. Yes sir-ee, 36.
By jiminee! Crivvens! (or a similar, perhaps less innocent, exclamation) I hear you say. That many? But surely, Mrs E, an egg’s an egg? It’s kind of ovoid, kind of brown-y, and has stuff inside it. End of story. But no!
There are pink eggs, blue eggs, khaki eggs, green eggs, cream eggs, white eggs (auld yins will remember these, they were what you got before someone in the Ministry of Egg Colour decided that broon looked healthier), speckled eggs and eggs of various shades of browns from (here’s one for the younger readers) latte broon to (and for you auld yins) Bourneville chocolate broon. You display them on paper plates (provided) on beds of wood shavings (provided) in a circle with their pointy ends in the way. Sorted. I’m sure there must be more prep and tickling you could do, but I am no expert.
And each year for the past few years we have won three or four firsts, a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds.
And so the Young Master is able, confidently, to design labels for our sales egg boxes which bear those magic words: ‘award-winning’. As I said, just like the Oscars.
Eat your heart out, Meryl Streep.