By now you all have a sense of the chicken problem we were having.  It wasn’t clinic specific; all of Rarotonga is swarming with these these free-roaming hobos.  For us, the roosters were keeping us up with their crowing, their sheer numbers were adding to the amount of cleaning we had to do during the day and we had seen just about all the chicken sex we could handle.

Oh yeah, I said it.

Chickens were getting down and dirty right there for all the patients to see.  Now, I’m a smart girl and I know that chickens need to mate in order to make cute little baby chickens, but I never really envisioned how they go about procreating.  It’s something you know, but don’t really want to know, you know?  So when I was standing there in the kitchen washing dishes and looking out towards the backyard, the sight of a rooster mounting a chicken had me clutching my pearls.  Scandalous.  Since there were chickens everywhere, there was also chicken sex.  Everywhere.  Out in the backyard giving a dog his meds?  Chickens having sex 10 feet away.  Scooping up dog poop?  Chicken sex.  Assisting the vet during an amputation?  Chicken sex (you couldn’t see it but you could hear it through the window).

Most of us just talked a big game about how we’d fix this problem but one of the volunteers, Sacha, went that extra step further and actually got the ball rolling.  I didn’t witness it personally, but I like to think she performed a secret, ancient blood curse against the roosters and emerged transformed, ready to exact some justice.

One day the clinic car pulled up in the front yard and Sacha emerged with an honest-to-god chicken net.  Shit was on.  A plan was devised – we’d aim for the roosters and relocate them to an abandoned, unpopulated area on the other side of the island.

Sacha on the hunt

Sacha on the hunt

The backyard became a reenactment of  the War of Northern Aggression minus all the Jesus.  I know this because I’m a product of the unfailing American education system, more specifically that of Collierville, Tennessee, smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt.  And being American I know that 2+3 = 7, Spain is located in South America and the colors of red, white and blue don’t run but if they do, they make a fabulous shade of lavender.  Damn that liberal media and their subversive gay agenda!  (Right now my parents must be so happy they spent all that money to send me to Catholic school.  They’re also rethinking their decision not to sell me to the circus like they threatened).

The element of surprise was our greatest asset.  The chickens had never before been introduced to a chicken net so Sach was able to snag a few on the first day.  Drunk with victory, we all had a go with the net and there was rarely a moment where you did not see a volunteer running through the yard waving that giant net and laughing maniacally.  It was also a sight so ridiculous the rest of us were paralyzed with laughter to the point of almost wetting ourselves.


Christina and Candice on a stakeout

But the chickens soon wised up.  Two days later, we were still running around with the net, only the chickens knew to scamper into the safety of the bushes.  The battle had shifted and we were now on the losing side.

Another volunteer, Ashley, decided to give the cat traps a go.  We all stood around telling her how that was never going to work.  She caught two within 5 minutes.  And so we enjoyed another few days of gaining ground against the enemy.

We had finally caught enough to reduce the chicken numbers to a manageable level.  If we had caught them all, it would have created a vacuum which would have quickly been replaced by a neighboring chicken colony.  With the numbers reduced, we slept in uninterrupted silence for the first time in a week.

But chickens being chickens means they quickly regrouped.  Whether the relocated roosters hitchhiked their way back to the clinic or they sent out a memo to gather the troops, we will never know.  Soon we were right back where we started, only these chickens were smarter.  They were trap savvy and knew exactly what that net meant.  We had lost control of them.  Their numbers grew.  The battle was lost.  The chickens were having sex in the backyard again.

And so we were a troop of volunteers, bonded by what we’ve experienced.  By all that we’ve seen.  Two weeks later, when a new volunteer entered the house, she commented about the number of chickens and how easy it would be for us to catch them.  Like war weary veterans, we could only look at her with dead eyes.  We’ve been there, man.  The chickens, they just can’t be defeated.