Monday, July 17, 2006

The war against bats…Animal House Ghana style..

Last night there were a serious of loud thuds to interrupt the usual noisy chattering of the bats. I wondered briefly about them, but then resumed my sleep, enjoying the oddly cool, mosquito free night (rare) as it was.
This morning as I was heading out to the latrines to pee, I saw the oddest contraption – a bat trap. Now I don’t know if you know what a bat trap looks like; prior to my arrival here, I couldn’t have accurately described one either.
This one consisted of a large fishing net draped on some roughly hewn ‘planks’ (here for some reason, people don’t mind that trees are cylindrical – they just polish entire slim tree trunks and use them for all manner of makeshift construction..) strategically placed of course: right next to the ‘akenkembie light’, or rather, the night light that gathers all the termites. So the bats would fly in to eat some tasty termite snacks, smack right into the net, struggle against the wall (hence the ‘thud, thud, thud’) and then die. Of course, in the course of dying (a little tragic I suppose, they are neat little creatures. I definitely resent their inhabiting the latrine, especially now that my flashlight doesn’t really work and they do insist on flying into you as soon as you enter..) they also dry and fall on the ground.
Then the dog eats them.

Of course, the chickens try to eat them too, but Peace (the dog) will try to eat the chickens if they steal his bat snacks. The chickens are relegated to eating the live bats.

So, during the daytime, the chicken…home..coop, whatever, the chicken nest place is right by the “kitchen” underneath the giant hole in the ceiling where the bats live. Sometimes baby bats fall out of the hole and then the chickens catch them and start eating them. Of course, if anybody sees, we yell for Krofiye, who chases the chickens screaming in Twi until they drop the bat, which she gracefully holds with two fingers and deposits outside –to die, and then dry, and then of course Peace will eat them.

The chickens that eat the bats, those are the evil chickens from hell. There are two kinds: the not-evil chickens, which are all varieties of colours and fat, and then the evil chickens from hell which are skinny and white. The white chickens are horrible – not only did they shit on my clothes (yes, Those chickens), but when my foot was infected and I was trying to dress my wound – THEY TRIED TO EAT IT!!! Obviously the infection took a turn for the worse there. Also they are stupid and eat anything – plastic, onions, pieces of intestine and stuff when you are slaughtering another chicken (cannibals!), bicycle tyres, chicken shit, soap (we make soap in our house and they’re always eating the ‘caustic lye’ or NaOH, and then dropping dead in the courtyard)… You name it, they’ll eat it. If you see them you think they aren’t fed – which I can attest to the fact that they ARE fed very nice maize meal. Anyway I have declared war on them and always tell them nastily, whenever they are around me (and I’m not kicking them away): “I’m going to eat you! Mwahahahaahahaha!!!!” Of course however, I wouldn’t eat one of those dirty disgusting chickens Ever.

There is one rooster, which is actually kind of pretty, but still evil, and decides to practice its operatic rooster skills LOUDLY outside my window, 6 AM, every day. Then the guinea fowls, which are these birds that sort of look like 1920s dancing girls with funny hats on. They’re actually sort of beautiful until they open their mouths. They make the most godawful turkey noise all day long. But they’re tasty and they have good eggs too.

Counting in the giant insects (mainly two kinds: beetles, and a praying mantis/grasshopper type thing that eats hair – no jokes), and the few porcupines (very, very cute) that inhabit the bush behind our house, these are all of the animals at Magnolia House.

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