Yesterday, I was told a parrot had been seen in a tree in our backyard. The announcement came at a time I felt tired and flustered, but now my whole body shaped up – a parrot?
After sneaking around for a while we saw it (and possibly its partner) in all its green and orange glory. It moved on the branches with the help of its beak, sang in a chirpy way, hid in the greenery and finally – like in a flash- sailed away in a quick orange streak.
My daughter was also excited and called it “a carrot” as she is in the process of learning vegetables and fruits in school.
I went inside and googled that parrot’s ass. Green+parrot+West Africa and there it was.
Since I was a little girl, I have been interested in bats. I’m not sure exactly why, but it seems they are animals that do everything “the other way” – sleep in the day, fly around at night, snuggle comfortably upside-down, eat either BLOOD or was it fruit? – and that is all interesting, don’t you think?
Fast forward to 2004 when I visited Ghana for the first time and saw something strange in the trees around 37 military hospital, smack in the middle of Accra. Was it not …? I was told about the fruit bat colony that lives there, presumably waiting for a king – with the bat as his symbol – who was rushed to the hospital and never came out again…During the day, trees in the area are clad with what looks like brown fruits, but around sunset those “fruits” come alive and the sky turns grey by all the bats that take to the sky! It is an amazing sight!
A few years back, I met someone working on documenting bats and their life for a tourism project and I though, yes, that would be nice! Bat safari! Learning more about these puzzling creatures! Climbing trees! Hanging upside down with tourists! But alas, nothing has happened and bats are not, as far as I know, contributing to Ghana’s GDP in any significant way.
Last week, bats resurfaced in Ghana’s foremost newspaper the Daily Graphic in a lengthy article by James Agyei-Ohemeng and it was even suggested: Bats are Ghana’s best-kept wildlife secret! Apparently they are also crucial for the health of Ghana’s forests (and timber, so I take back the GDP comment!) and a research project is currently underway in Sunyani!
After receiving a beautiful guinea fowl for his birthday, my significant other suddenly started talking about keeping it ( as opposed to slaughtering it for dinner, which was the giver’s intention?) and adding some chicken.
This topic has been up for discussion before, but then always ending in a mutual agreement that “now is not the time for such a project”. This time, we both felt it was.
Is it our baby that makes us think its a good time? The idea of that it is nice for a child to grow up surrounded by animals? The fact that we are staying in this house another year? The slow farming in our backyard due to all the annoying ants who clearly need an enemy? I can’t say.
Anyway, a few days later we went to buy two hens and a rooster at the Community 1 market. The smallish hens cost 10 GHC each (our nanny claims they are 5 GHC in the village) and the colorful rooster 15 GHC, all in all about 20 USD. The chicken seller promised us that one of the small hens we bought had already started to lay eggs.
We (so not me!) cleared them of their long “flying feathers” and tied them with to our verandah furniture. We tied them with red satin ribbons only because it was the only string we had at home. It looked so beautiful! After the first night on our verandah, they could move into the vintage hen coop my mother-in-law raised chicken in for many years.
Vintage Hen Coop “God is too good!!”
After a day of observing the chicken, the guinea fowl joined the group. Now, the hens Adjoa Smart and Serwaa Akoto, the rooster Richmond and the guinea fowl Jimmy form an interesting gang in our backyard. Still a bit shy, they graze the paths closest to the compound wall and run off in a haphazard row formation if we come too close.
In the morning we can hear Richmond clearing his throat and crowing as the sun rises. During the day we feed them food leftovers, uncooked rice and other seeds I found in the pantry. In the evening they trot back to their hen coop and stay there for the night.
Just a few days into their stay with us, we got our first egg. Smallish, as the hen that laid it is very young, light brown and luke warm I held it to the morning light.
Project Poultry has so far been most rewarding. I like having them around, I even like being woken up by a rooster crowing! I’ll keep you posted in this space!
And what happened to the very first egg? Baby Selma ate it for lunch!