No doubt chicken aficionados the world around will snicker with quiet contempt at my lack of sophistication, but I actually have spent the last several months feeling very, very sorry for the poor half-featherless birds strutting about the yard here in Peña Blanca. I was under the impression that their necks had been picked clean by aggressive chicken-hutch mates showing them who was boss. I had visions of vicious pecking contests in the hen house, victors crowing and strutting, losers cowering in corners trying to protect their bloody, naked little necks. They looked like tiny, more colorful, vultures.
I did wonder why I never heard a ruckus in the henhouse, which is not too far from my little casita. If there were orgies of violent feather-picking, would I not have heard them? I also wondered why I never saw any of the chickens demonstrate the horrid behavior I imagined they indulged. They seemed quite calm in the yard, mostly just careful of my Chihuahua and interested in bugs. And I did wonder why so very many of the chickens were fluffy and full everywhere except their naked little necks.
I also, I admit with shamed and lowered head, thought that the chickens of Panama must be savages. To be so hard on their fellow fowl – they surely had to be more savage than the chickens of the US, or Canada — or Greece for that matter, seemed to be.
There were mama chickens in the yard, too, mama chickens with groups of tiny, peeping pollitos. Mama chickens with naked necks! Even the littlest pollitos sometimes were picked clean. And then, as the pollitos grew, they became teen-age chickens with naked necks. Ugh. Was nothing sacred? No innocent immune?
And since most of what I have observed here has pretty much been of a gentler nature, that seemed a bit off, some way. And we want our hallucinations of reality to be consistent, right?
I am pleased to say that mine have been allowed that.
This afternoon I went to chat with my neighbor, the Professor. As we passed the time I noticed quite a few naked neck chickens in his yard, and mentioned I was surprised at how many there were. He proudly informed me they were, in fact, a specific breed, and pointed out an especially fine specimen, a very healthy looking, tall rooster with a fine high comb and a blood red neck – the same color as his comb.
“Indeed,” the Professor informed me, “these chickens even have a name. What is it, hon?” he called to his wife. “Coqui Pela,” she hollered back. “Huh,” he turned to me and squinted. “It should be ‘Coqui peleada’ because it refers to the neck. The naked neck.”
But that’s what the Las Tablas accent does to words. Whacks them off. And in the country in question, the customs of the country are correct. ‘Coqui pela’ it is.
Naturally, I immediately ran home to share this information with my knowledgeable friend Google.
I didn’t find a lot about ‘coqui pela’ or ‘coqui peleada’, but I did find a breed of chicken with naked necks. Possibly more exotically, possibly not, they are also called ‘Turken’ chickens.
But in Pena Blanca, they are ‘Coqui Pela.’
And, in a wonderful display of support for my hallucinations of reality, the ‘Coqui Pela’ (or ‘Turken’) is said to be exceptionally docile. How about that, o ye of little faith?