Rainy Side View: Put chickens in their proper place

Due to all the fan mail (two) for my first column on chickens, I’ve decided to continue with my fowl tales.

There is a busy intersection in Hilo where some wild chickens have set up a permanent home. Often when I pass, I see roosters, hens and chicks seemingly content in a well-established colony.

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But showing up lately are pua‘a — wild pigs — hanging out with the chickens. And more than once, I have also seen humans dropping off food at this intersection.

Next thing we know, they’ll be assigning names to this menagerie, if they haven’t already. I hope they remember to also name the mongoose dining after the pigs and chickens have had their fill. And don’t forget all the nameless rats that come out after dark, eating the leftover leftovers.

By strange coincidence, there’s also a chick-a-pig spot on the other side of the island, on the long slope down to the mega-warehouse where we can buy in bulk. On that steep road, I have seen a flock of chickens, again with a black pua‘a in its midst.

I doubt that it’s the same group of Hilo chickens and pigs taking the new Saddle Road shortcut to Kona just to get a free meal. So I must conclude that someone on the dry side is also dropping off food, because the animals in that West Hawaii zoo, as with these in Hilo, are just standing around, waiting for the buffet line to open.

I am forced to ponder this chicken-pig connection, now that I’ve seen it on both sides of the island, and so far, there seems to be none, although I am counting on some dear readers to inform my ignorance.

The best I can come up with has to do with some ancient imprint from days on the farm where ancestors of these animals had nothing else to do but flap up dust or roll in mud all day long, and in due time, through no effort on their part, dinner magically appeared.

Quite lame, I agree, but that’s all I got.

To the naked eye, these peckers and porkers look like they are peacefully co-existing there on the side of those busy roads and yet — are they? The wiry chickens, easily squashed by a pig 10 times their size, are no match for our plump pua‘a. But as with all of us who are small in stature, perhaps they make up for it with big mouth, loud voice and sassy lip.

Chicken: Who invited you to pig out with us?

Pua‘a: I’m crashing your hen party. Watchu gonna do about it?

Chicken: Don’t be pig-headed. You better leave.

Pua‘a: Who’s gonna make me — you? Chicken. Chickeeeen.

Chicken: I could pickle some pig feet right about now.

Pua‘a: C’mon, c’mon. Let’s see what you got. Bring on your small peckers!

Too much? OK, I’ll stop.

On the serious side, these wild animals in Hilo and Kona are looking a little too tame to my liking, gathering by the side of busy roads waiting for their meals-on-wheels to get dropped off. This is an unnatural sight and one that concerns me.

To well-meaning food providers, keep in mind that you are interfering with nature’s way when you feed any feral animal, in this case pigs and chickens. But because I admire your kindheartedness and compassion for these creatures, I propose an option other than simply dropping off food by the side of the road, because by doing that, you are attracting all the vermin in the area, as well as domesticating these wild chickens and pigs.

But if that is your choice, then here’s a better idea: Fence in your back yard, and take these animals home with you.

Lock the gate and continue to feed.

When the time is right, sharpen your axe.

Then preheat the oven, oil your pan and set the table.

For domesticated animals that are not pets, this is their circle of life. You feed them, then they feed you. This is how it works.

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Let’s keep it that way.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. Rochelle welcomes your comments at rainysideview@gmail.com. Her column appears the second and fourth Monday of each month.

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