The Chicken and the Ape

First there was the baboon.

Now there is the chicken.

Living in suburban Africa is becoming quite an adventure.

I used to laugh at people from overseas who thought I had a pet lion in the backyard. My Siamese doesn’t count. These days my chuckles are little subdued.

You see, after I forked out nearly R1 000 to stitch up my dog’s ear post the baboon scenario, my neighbours bought some chickens.

Not those cute little expensive decorative ones either.

Farm chickens.

And not for their eggs either.

Oh no. These are for dinner.

How do I know this?

I know this because around lunchtime last weekend a tremendous squawking started up over the fence. This rendered every dog in the neighbourhood into paroxysms of frenzied barking.

Most curious husband peeked over the fence prompted by my wondering what the hell was going on.

“It’s a chicken,” he stated, pleased with himself.

“Chickens do not scream,” I commented.

“Well, this one is about to be dinner,” he mentioned quietly as to not awake the bloodlust in small boys avidly listening in.

“Don’t be silly! This is the suburbs, chickens come from the Spar.”

Suddenly the squawking came to an abrupt halt along with the earth shuddering thunk of an axe.

Husband peeked over the fence again.

“It’s dead now,” he stated completely unnecessarily.

That wasn’t the end of it. Suffering from the post traumatic stress of seeing their family member summarily executed, the remainder of the chickens flew the coop, over the electric fence and into my garden.

Now, what do I do?

They are very very hard to catch. For birds with little flight, they are quite wily.

Do I throw them back over the wall to their certain doom?

Each day this week I have come home with a leaden dread in my belly certain I will find the carcass of a fowl on my lawn.

I have a beagle. He can pluck a bird out of mid-flight and present it unharmed and pissed off into my hands.

My Staffie has no such compunction, if he gets hold of this interloper it will be tickets and I’ll have to explain to my neighbour where Sunday lunch went.

“Ah well,” said the husband, “At least it wasn’t a goat.”

A goat!

Why would it be a goat?

On some inspection I discovered that despite being in the heart of the city, my neighbourhood retains it partial agricultural zoning. This means that lifestock can be bred and… well, executed among the Ford Fiestas and BMW Z5s.

If I lived on a farm, I might expect to experience this. But the point is I don’t.

I live in Sandton for heaven’s sake! Not on the platteland of the Karoo.

In fact, I once stayed with family friends on a farm who wanted to find out what would happen to common old garden battery chickens if you let them run free.

I’ll tell you, they get fatter and fatter and then they break their legs. So, we had one for dinner.

My host, though talented beyond measure ion many other things, was not a talented plucker, and dinner was spent removing feathers from between one’s teeth.

My mother informs me that you can stroke a chicken into a sort of coma and then just wring its neck.

Apparently she saw this on the Discovery Channel.

I’d prefer that method to the chop of the axeman, but I don’t know how to approach this sort of conversation over the fence.

Nor, do I know how to respond to the dinner invitation.


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