i remember basketball tournaments in school and that too quite vividly because i was one of those bench warmers. I never (well, rarely) really played the game but collected many medals and certificates because i was a substitute for the winning team.
well, you know how they say “kasto chicken game kheleko?
well, i understood the analogy. i have seen pigeons in the durbar square who go after whoever’s feeding them. everybody runs after the ball in a basketball chicken game. (but mind you, our team was good…we never lost a match and surely we (they) didn’t play chicken like.)
however, pigeons don’t make up for chickens. that’s what i realized yesterday during a visit to a poultry farm, far off in the outskirts of gokarna.
i was visiting a cousin sis, her husband and their baby daughter with my family. her husband works at a poultry farm. it was a long ride of 11 km to and 11 km back from home in chandol. ani tyes mathi tyo chabil ra boudha ko traffic jam. i think it was stupid of me to get a driving license because now i have to drive around and my mother relaxes in the passenger seat. i used to enjoy it the other way around. “aba ta america ma ta majja le drive garna sakchau,” she comments of my capability to drive past the area, albeit with the gadi ko engine turning off every now and then and she yelling at me, “harey harey, k gareko. horrible driving.”
when we got to the poultry farm it was feeding time. i had never been to one and it was quite amusing (but also sad…coz we eat them at the end of the day and it’s business to the farmers). in the long building there were about 3400 chickens and they all looked the same! brown and white and they were all female chickens i.e. hens. (and my mom said ‘hello..mr hen’)
so these brown ones are ‘lace’ chickens or well that’s i heard in nepali. i don’t think they are laced in any sense. but anyways, they are neither ‘local’ nor ‘broilers’. they lay eggs starting when they are six mnths old till about 15 mnths and then they are sold off to some butcher shop…i guess. and a new lot of chicks come in.
unlike broiler chickens, who are all white, and don’t lay eggs, these lace hens lay eggs every other day…and they collect buckets of eggs each day at around 4:30 pm. and well here’s what’s interesting. you see the basket in the photo up above. they put ‘bhush’ in that and the hens lay eggs in them. have have more earthen pots at the bottom for the hens to lay eggs. some just lay them in the crowd tho.
the lace hens don’t need light at night to sleep. now broilers are expensive coz they like to sleep with the lights on in the barn or else, they get frightened and will kill each other in a stampede.
“ek choti tyo kukhura dhale pachi…uthnai sakdaina…aru le kichera maridincha…”
that is truly scary and horrible and that’s why broilers need lights at night time. get that? that’s some important information there.
oh and not to mention, broilers get the khukuri in six months time. they lose their mass after six months old…coz well their are broiler chickens and you know have been given things to make them fat.
stepping into the barn, the lace hens try to peck on my shoes and my legs. but their beaks have been cut off a bit (sounds so cruel) so that they don’t peck and eat their own eggs (and so that they can sell the eggs and make money and we can buy them and make omelettes).
they all gather around me and instead of feeding them, coz they’ve already been fed, i take pictures. it is a crazy sight. they don’t go ‘pwack pwack pwack…’ they just make this weird sound..and with thousands of them around, it is quite funny for a few minutes…it wouldn’t be if you had to listen to them each day. it’s like a crazy unsynchronized acapella.
and well all of them are not in the same compartment otherwise it would be a havoc. you look through one and it’s crazy. it’s like aine hereko jasto, tyo dance studio ma huncha ni..mirrors on both sides. you keep seeing yourself infinitely..like in a hair cutting pasal.
i know it sounds so bad…but it was such a funny sight. with their red combs (or rather their natural mohawks) matching the red buckets. and they get really frightened when you hoot and howl like a fox. they all shake their heads and become still for a while, their eyes wide open. it is really hilarious, but of course an animal rights person would kill me. anyways, it was my mother’s idea to howl. and i think the hens realized that it was us making the noise, they didn’t react as much.
i also ventured into the fields outside of the barn. it wasn’t as sad as bhainsepati and tokha will housings taking over the farms. they had just planted potatoes and i didn’t know that they had such beautiful purple flowers. there were piles of sand though, don’t know where they brought those from. and a pipe was running across the stream nearby, probably to extract water and there was human excreta on the khola’s banks. but to forget all of that, here’s a potato flower.