Nasty neighbours get plucky over stray rooster.
The village wing of Fethiye Times is located in the midst of Turkish villagers who grow fruit and vegetables and keep poultry, goats and the odd cow. We are trying to establish a formal Islamic garden and, for almost four years, have been battling the actions of a varying band of poultry who wander in and out of the garden at will. They like nothing better than tasty seedling plants, or maybe scratching up newly raked soil where seeds have just been sown. As we haven’t fenced our land, we were more or less resigned to the visits from poultry and tried to keep piles of small stones on hand for warding them off.
We have two sets of neighbours along the dirt track where we live: the nice neighbours and the nasty neighbours. Last summer the female half of the nice neighbours, observing me chasing chickens in our garden said “Those chickens don’t belong to anybody, you know. You could make them yours.” I replied that chickens were death to gardens of the type we are trying to create, so I’d continue chasing them off.
Late last year the poultry band suddenly gained a second rooster. A beautiful bird, smaller than the existing rooster, but with wonderful ginger plumage. He looked like an illustration from a child’s alphabet book: ‘R is for Rooster’. In December the two roosters battled it out for supremacy (in our garden of course) and R is for Rooster lost. As a result he lost his pride, his self confidence and his voice – he didn’t crow for over a month.
Of course, soft British animal lovers that we are, we started to feel sorry for him and began to feed him stale bread and other left-overs in an attempt to restore his psyche. The chickens also got in on the act but we were careful not to let the boss rooster in on the feeding sessions. Well as with so many ‘best laid plans’ it all went pear shaped. Within weeks R is Rooster started laying siege to the house and, when we emerged, if we didn’t have food for him we got pecked. A couple of Sundays ago, when my husband was sitting on the edge of the terrace drinking coffee with a friend, R is for Rooster pecked his last peck. He stuck his beak in Chris’ arm and Chris grabbed him by the neck and killed him. Why not if he didn’t belong to anyone? Well, what to do? We strung him up to a tree in the garden and plucked and cleaned him, then put him in the freezer.
On the Wednesday the village muhtar phoned to say the nasty neighbours had just been to his office to complain that we had killed their rooster. I immediately went to the village and told him the full story as above and his reply was “There is no such thing as a stray rooster – all poultry belongs to someone.”
On the Saturday we attended a ‘conciliation meeting’ in the village at which the nasty neighbours were present along with three of the muhtar’s helpers – the main man stayed away because he finds the nasty neighbours hard work. We drank tea, I told the story as written here pointing out that they had never complained when we were feeding their chickens, and the female half of the nasty neighbours then went on at length, detailing a catalogue of alleged sins we have committed since we moved in next door to them. Eventually compensation of 25YTL was proposed and, when I commented that the price seemed a bit high, the muhtar’s men turned as one, raised their eyebrows and said “Please just pay the money”. Clearly they had also had enough of the somewhat one-sided proceedings.
When the 25YTL was handed over the neighbour instantly passed it to one of the muhtar’s men and said “This must go to the mosque.” As we left the three of them were passing the money back and forth to a chorus of “You take it.” “No, you take it.” None of them, it would seem, are particularly regular attenders at the mosque.
Of course we still have the frozen rooster to eat – a coq au vin in due course – and, amazingly, since the ‘conciliation’ meeting we haven’t had a single chicken in our garden.