Bye Bye Birdies
category: Jims Guatemala

It’s evening, soout of habit I just went out to check on the chicken coop. But then I remembered, they’re not there…THEY’RE DEAD! But let me explain.

A few weeks back, one of our chickens stopped coming home in the evening. It was Henrietta, the bigger of the two, and also the prettiest with his multicolored brown and blue speckled plumage. We were a little concerned, so we mentioned it to our neighbors the next day. “Oh, Nas and the guys saw a coyote last night when they were on patrol. Coyote probably ate your chicken.”

IMG_3445.jpgDang! The dangers of free-range poultry. We were a little put out; I have NEVER seen any predators here before. What rotten luck. At least we still had one chicken left at that point: Pat, the black and white one. But about a week later, I went down to close the coop after dark and…. it was empty! How could this coyote have gotten BOTH of our chickens, and none of the neighbors’?

Well, the next day I was working around the house and heard a retarded rooster crow. Hmm, I thought… Henrietta has that exact same crow, a sortof “Cock-a-doodle…” then a pause, and “err?” So I sneaked around through the cornfield, and Lo and Behold! There was Henrietta, the one supposedly eaten by the coyotes. And how did I know is was him? Well, you get to know the look of your chickens (I know, sounds cheezy, but it’s true). But moreso, I’m a gringo and all into clever tricks. So when we got our chickens, we put little steel bracelets on their ankles so we can tell them apart. Lina, our friendly neighbor lady, was pretty impressed by this idea. And Henrietta was indeed wearing his bracelet.

So, we talked with some of the local chicken experts, and the consensus was that our young roosters probably left to scope out the chicks (so to speak) and were shacking up elsewhere. Well, we can’t have that. A brief search of our part of the village turned up the missing Pat as well. After a fight, we were able to catch Pat and tie him to the house. At night, we stuffed him back into his coop. In the morning, we let him go, and again he didn’t return, having tasted the good life.

At this point, I’d had it with teenage chickens and their partying. “You should probably eat them, or else one of the neighbors will,” Lina advised us. “They probably aren’t going to stay at your house anymore anyways.”

“Do you think they’re ready?” we asked.

“Hmm, they’re still scrawny. But edible,” she said. We discussed it for a while, weighing the risk of a neighbor eating them during the amount of time it would take to get them fatter. Since we’d already offered to let Lina’s family eat them since they are always so nice to us, she didn’t want to be pushy. Emily and I talked it over and eventually decided today was the day, since we are going to be out of town most of next week.

We enlisted the aid of the nieghborhood kids to capture the two chickens. Their technique is funny; they just run right at the chickens like a mob of Christmas shoppers on the 24th of December. I would think it would be more sensible to move slower, and corner them instead of scaring them. But they kids were successful by virtue of sheer numbers and unflagging enthusiasm, and soon we had our chickens. We paid the kids with some cookies, and we were good to go.

IMG_5933.jpgKilling and cooking the chickens was pretty routine, as it usually is. They told Emily she had to kill one of them, but unfortunately, by the time we got there, they’d already killed it. I guess their impatience was greater than the potential amusement they could get out of Emily. The one special thing I did do is pull out a bunch of Henrietta’s plumage to give to our friend Allison. She likes tying fishing flies, and I remember from when I used to do it that the feathers from a colorado rooster’s neck are the perfect thing for Quill Gordons and other floaters. I am really sad I didn’t get a picture of Henrietta before they killed him, he was a really pretty bird.

After that, dinner. As I type, I am digesting my tasty, feathered friends.

Soon we’re off to get our new chickens, hens this time, with the aid of Lina the Younger. I have a great story to tell about that, too, but you will have to wait ’til next week to hear it.

Posted by: jfanjoy