Chickens - don't mess with a PCV

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This is a story about chickens.

When I first started driving in Ikot Ekpene, I often wondered why DID the chickens want to cross the road? 2 or 3 times a month, I would run over chickens. They would come charging out of the path to their owner's compound and onto the road as I was passing. It was dangerous to avoid them, even if you could. Sometimes they would stop before crossing and turn around and run back. I could never tell, but I would take my foot off the gas and wait for the thump and look in the rear view mirror to see if there was a puff of feathers. I didn't enjoy it.

From time to time somebody would give me "dash". Usually this would be a chicken and maybe a yam and some type of fruit. Trying to say no, just didn't work. So I would take it home. We also bought live chickens at the market and would fatten all the chickens in the yard with some chicken feed. All were being fattened up for my dinner table.

But this is a gruesome story about one particular rooster which was given to me.

The Story

The rooster was one of several chickens that roamed in the backyard of my house in Ikot Ekpene. There were several structures that formed what I would call a patio in California. This was a hard packed dirt area. Sort of defining the edges was a small garden, an narrow two room bathroom building, at right angles to that was a small storage shed, where the chickens were put at night. Then there was Fabian's (my cook) one room house facing the bathroom. This building was raised at the back about 2 feet off the ground. Facing the storage sheet was the back of the main house. The back of the main house was also 2 feet or more from the compound floor.

My morning ritual was to get up, put on my Nigeria wrap and visit the bathroom house. There was a bucket with some sort of pipe and shower head. I would generally take a cold shower, then walk 30 feet or so back to the main house where Fabian would have some hot water in a bowl for me to shave. Then I would eat breakfast, sometimes listening to the radio, sometimes talking with Fabian about the day or receive some local gossip.

Fabian reported to me that this particular rooster had chased the Town Clerk's daughter out of the yard. We thought that was funny. "Sa, that rooster is mean". On another day he even went after Fabian's brother. Somebody else came over to visit Fabian on another day, and I heard that the rooster chased them into Fabian's house. The rooster did not bother me.

I knew something about chickens. I visited Mrs. Akpabio's place a couple of times a month. She had over 10,000 broilers on feed at any given time. Every house I visited had chickens roaming about and of course I had 2 to 6 chickens myself.

One fine morning I was returning from the bathhouse. Fabian and his brother were standing at the back of the house looking down at something. "Sa" was Fabian's sharp quick comment that drew my attention to the rooster below him. It appeared to me to be going though a ritual challenging dance. “You have invaded my territory and you better go or be prepared to fight”. I stopped and watched it with mild interest. Making sure my ofong isong (cloth wrap) was firmly around my waist. I remember looking up at Fabian who had a big smile on his face.

The rooster charged at me at a dead run, almost flying. Just before the silly rooster reached me, I stepped to one side out of it’s path. The rooster traveled passed me and came to a stop.

The rooster and I turned to face one another again. It must have been quite a sight. I could not believe it. This was not good. Somebody was going to get hurt. The rooster had gathered itself and gave a preliminary thrust of the tail and came at me again.

Did I mention that I would help Mrs. Akpabio and her crew catch chickens on processing days. There were always some escapees or difficult ones which could not be caught with the clever wire feet hook. That is where I developed some very special chicken moves. As the rooster passed a second time, I stepped aside and snagged it in mid air by the neck with my hand. In a continous motion I swung the chicken around and let it go so it landed at Fabian’s feet.

“Fabian, I want to eat that chicken tonight.” Fabian was standing there frozen with a smile on his face, obviously not expecting to have a dead chicken at his feet. He could barely get “Yes, Sa” out before he started laughing.

The rooster was tough eating and probably needed more time on feed. But I still don’t know why that rooster crossed the compound.

--Rcollman 15:06, 12 April 2008 (CDT) Nigeria XVI

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