Kippen are chickens but these are not just ordinary chickens! They do live in a kippenhok and they do lay eggs like others of their breed, but beyond that there is no other resemblance. These kippen are a part of the monastery…loved and adored…well perhaps not by all sisters but by enough that they remain beautifully fed and cared for with luscious plumage of orange or black and brown speckled. In the kitchen in a prominent spot on the counter, there is a white plastic container for scraps (of which there are not too many) from meals. We, as Sisters, are well trained and eat all we take but there are the scraps of bread and edges of cheese slices.
Bread is an art form here in Belgian. Someone goes to the bakery in late afternoon or early morning for the family’s favorite variety of fresh bread, which then of course must be eaten fairly quickly as there are no preservatives.
I am told the bread is one of the chickens’ favorites. The bread is soaked in water and then delivered for consumption after the potato peelings or some other less appetizing offering has been eaten. The chickens every day are let into the garden and grounds to promenade and do their own foraging and investigating. The kippen are quite amusing to watch and of course they get into the occasional scrape. They wandered one day to another part of the monastery grounds and when I went out with the kippen Sister to round them into the kippenhok for the night they were no where to be seen. They actually come when they are called clucking all the while. This night they were stuck as the gate to that part of the garden had been closed with them inside! They could not squeeze through the openings in the gate…we opened it and they streamed through in a line, all 7 of the lovely ladies. Ugh oh one was missing; there are 8 chickens! We called and called; they actually come. Finally, I spotted her in the old overgrown canal bed. We laughed; she was in and could not figure out how to get out. We coaxed and prodded and eventually the exit was executed and she too had bread for dinner. Yes these kippen are God’s creatures, loved and adored.