Getting Fowl: Meet Our Hens, Turkeys, and Rooster

A few days ago I promised that I would show off our hens (and other fowl). This beautiful sunny morning, P, who doesn’t take much joy from anything technological, asked for the camera. He’s really proud of our fowl, and rightfully so.

Before we get to the pictures, though, let me explain something. We don’t live on a farm, but we also don’t keep farm animals in or near our house. We live in a typical walled medieval village on a mountaintop, which means many of the houses touch. A skilled driver can squeeze a small car down the main corso, but all the other streets are narrow, winding alleys. Not a whole lotta room for vegetation within the village itself except for balcony plants and trees and flower boxes. Don’t worry, someday I’ll do photos of those too.

As you ascend the mountain, if you look closely, you’ll see stone chicken coops and pig pens tucked into the greenery. Although the demarcations are known only to those to whom the properties belong, the entire mountainside is split into plots, usually passed down through the family. Here village residents have their gardens, growing everything from tomatoes and eggplants to lemons and oranges and keeping various small farm animals. The larger plots of land more outside the village are where you’ll find crops like olive trees and grapevines and many more farm animals.

Here’s a piece of our little plot, although this isn’t where the fowl are because it doesn’t get enough sun. In case you didn’t know, hens need sun/warmth or else they won’t lay eggs.

We have lemon, orange, and almond trees, as well as cucumbers, peperoncini, eggplants, parsley, basil, rosemary, celery, and probably other things I’m forgetting. Sadly, no tomatoes–again, the whole sun problem.

The pollaio is on P’s brother’s plot; he lives in Perugia, so he’s not using this chunk of sun-drenched land. The garden and the pollaio are a two-minute walk apart, and they’re each a five-minute severely downhill walk from the house–going down is fine, but coming back up? Let’s just say I don’t need an elliptical trainer.

Ready to meet some fowl after the longest photo introduction ever?

Below is the outdoor meeting place. I like this shot because you can also see how the land is parceled up. None of the other structures on this picture belong to us or P’s family, and as far as I know they aren’t being currently used either.

The big white thing among all seemingly tiny friends is the turkey we were supposed to eat for Thanksgiving. We used to have three total, but two weeks before Turkey Day, a feral cat celebrated early by taking one of ours. Happy to oblige, Thanksgiving Party Pooper, but you left us with only two turkeys–a girl and a boy, who need each other for company.

We ate chicken instead. No worries, since that’s what my grandmother always made anyway because she didn’t like turkey, but still. Maybe next year.

Now how pretty is this little dude? He’s what they call here a “gallo americano,” an American rooster, but we know him better as a bantam. P waited for ten minutes to see if he could catch him singing, but no dice.

Here he is with one of his hen friends.

And here’s my arsty photo of Signor Bantam, as I call him:

Can you tell he’s kind of our favorite?

On a sad note, some of the roosters will meet their demises very soon. Probably tomorrow morning in fact. But I won’t point out which ones because I don’t know, and I like it that way. Rest assured, though, that the turkeys and Signor Bantam are in the clear.

I most certainly won’t be present for the killings to document it either, so you’ll just have to rely on some Discovery program or something for that. And in the same vein, I won’t be cleaning the birds.

Why? Because I’m no plucker. Hah!

9 Beans of Wisdom to “Getting Fowl: Meet Our Hens, Turkeys, and Rooster”
  1. Christina Arbini

    LOL! I don’t blame you at all for not having anything to do with the killing or cleaning! I think that would be all it would take to turn me vegetarian in a matter of seconds! 😉 I remember my Italian grandmother insisting we children watch her pluck and clean the pheasants my dad and grandfather would shoot during hunting season. Um, right. To this day I’ve never even tasted pheasant, nor do I ever intend to. Blech!!!


  2. Gil

    Looks like P. will soon be giving you some serious competition as a photographer. The chickens look well taken care of compared to the ones I remember the egg farmers keeping. This reminds me of the chickens that my Mom’s Aunt kept in upstate NY.

  3. Judith in Umbria

    I am worried that you are living my life as it should have been instead of as I lived it.
    I am, as most know, nuts for poultry, but could never eat a friend. I don’t have any now because of the “strage a Barzotti” of 2 years ago, but I go visit my neighbors’ fowls and they are kind enough to do the killing on days when I am away!

  4. sognatrice

    Christina, P’s mom does all the cleaning, thank goodness. I feel the same as you do–if I had to kill, I’d be a vegetarian.

    Gil, I was also impressed with P’s hidden talent; I’m going to be sending him on more assignments soon 😉 And yes, the chickens are definitely well cared for–I suppose if you’re going to end up eating them yourself, you really don’t want some sickly birds.

    Judith, what a wonderful comment. Seems like you’ve done and are doing just fine for yourself though 🙂

  5. The Other Girl

    See, this is why I could never be a farmer; I’d cry at every single meal. Not that I don’t eat meat all the time, but I can’t see a living animal and not give it a name and have conversations with it about its day, neither of which is conducive to later heating it up and pouring gravy over it. I have to go with the, “chicken comes from the supermarket” school of thought, or I’d starve to death. I’m wimpy like that.

  6. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    these photos make me homesick. they remind of where my parents live.

    yes I do remember the summer a few years ago when my aunt killed a chicken (this was in Anguilla), plucked it and we were having it for dinner the next night.

    I couldn’t eat it and instead had tuna from a can. My relatives thought I was crazy. I’m sorry, but I just saw homeslice clucking away with his friends the day before. I will spare you the story about the huge pig they killed later on.

  7. Tracie B.

    buon appetito!

  1. [...] a nearby bush. Keeping his reputation safe as village flower thief, the other day when he took the chick...
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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