Friday, April 30, 2010

Koki Kaikai

"Koki kaikai, koki kaikai," all day long our cockatoo would say that phrase over and over. It means "cockatoo wants to eat" in Pigeon English. We got the koki (cockatoo) from a missionary that was moving back to the US. I guess he really wasn't thinking when he taught the koki that phrase. This coincidentally was kokis the name, Koki Kaikai. Not too catchy, but it kind of made sense if you were around the cockatoo for more than five minutes.

We kept Koki Kaikai in the chicken coop which obviously no longer had chickens in it. We went from eating eggs to eating chickens and eventually ran out. Koki Kaikai was a lot of fun. He would fly around the village but he would always come back and he liked to walk back and forth across your shoulders or go up on your head. He never bit or scratched. We really enjoyed owning him until he started to develop some bad habits.

I guess he started to get bored in the chicken coop and so one day he started cutting a hole in the wire and flew out of the coop. He immediately went to the nearest electrical wire and started peeling the plastic coating off. The wires were only 12 volts so they weren't dangerous, and he wasn't really hurting anything until he started clipping the wires. One day we went to turn on our radio and it didn't work. We thought it was broken some how until we went downstairs and found Koki Kaikai chewing on the wire. One of his other favorite things to do when he flew the coop was pull clothes pins off the line and let the clothes fall to the ground. One day he got out and clipped our neighbors radio antenna right in two. While we were on vacation for a couple weeks, our neighbor Mr. Nichols was feeding Koki Kaikai when he flew at him and bit him in the face.

That was the last straw. We decided we had to get rid of him before he caused major problems with our neighbors or actually damaged something that was irreparable. We didn't want to give him to the tribal people because we knew he would probably just end up on their dinner table, so we gave him to an Anglican priest who lived about a half hour away (hiking, not driving).

The priest really like the bird, but he couldn't get it to stay with him. Koki Kaikai kept trying to fly home to his coop that he had previously spent so much time trying to get out of. In the end the priest decided to clip Koki Kaikai's wings until he got used to his new home. One day the bird was wandering around the yard and a very large very hungry pig grab him and ate him.

Who ever heard of a bird getting eaten by a pig? Does this sound normal to neither.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How do chicken hawks and snakes get so smart?

Around this same time period, when I was very little, we also had several chickens in a coop under our house (our house was eight feet off the ground on stilts). We usually took the eggs and had them for breakfast but on this occasion we decided to let them hatch and so we had five or six little chicks running around. We often let the chickens range free during the day and put them back into the coop at night.

While the chicks were still little we found out that a chicken hawk was terrorizing the neighborhood. Several young chicks had already helped fatten the glutenous chicken hawk. We didn't want our chicks to add to the hawk's obvious problem of over eating and besides we had grown fond of our cute little chicks. One day they would grow up to lay eggs for us, or become tasty meals in there own right, so we decided to keep our chicks in the coop until the hawk moved on to some other neighborhood.

One afternoon I was observing the beauty of another day God had created, and considering the fact that we had outsmarted the evil hawk when I spotted it on the horizon. I was in no way prepared for what was about to happen. The hawk suddenly started to bank sharply and swoop down in my direction. At first I feared it was headed for me and I was about to cower (remember I'm own five or six here) when I realized it was actually headed for the chicken coop. I was just recovering from the shock when I saw the hawk fly right up to the side of the coop and proceed to reach through the wire and snatch one of our poor chicks. The hawk pulled the chick free of the coop and then flew away victoriously. We were sadden by the loss of our little chick but comforted by the fact that we still had several more.

Now several weeks later the chicks are still chicks but they seem to be growing up so fast and we are excited that we will soon have several more chickens. Then the unthinkable happens. One morning I went down to feed the chickens and discover that all of the five remaining chicks were dead on the floor of the coop. Each chick was slightly squished and somewhat in the shape of a cylinder. I was shocked but also very curious to know what could have caused this strange turn of events. It wasn't till I looked closely at the floor of the coop that I discovered a clue. There appeared to be tracks of some sort in the dirt and as I observe them it dawned on me what had happened. A snake, small enough to fit through the wire, had gotten into the coop and had eaten all of the chicks, only to discover it could no longer leave the coop with it distended belly, it proceed to regurgitate each chick, until it was again able to escape. The tragedy was, the snake was still hungry, and we lost all our chicks for nothing.

One tragedy could simply be bad luck, but two, so close together, and so thoroughly destructive, would seem to point to something more sinister going on...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Missing Pangis

If you were around when I was four (these stories aren't exactly chronological) you might of seen me hopping along next to a couple pangis. We often liked to race each other, it was quite fun. Again I don't remember their names so I'm going to call them Pangi One and Pangi Two.

Now you're going to ask, "what's a pangi?" and I'm going to say, "I really don't know how to describe a pangi." I guess I could start with the English name, which is a wallaby (pangi is a Pigeon English word). Problem is most people have never heard of a wallaby either. Maybe the best way to describe a wallaby is to call it a mini kangaroo. Now if you don't know what a kangaroo is, I can't help you.

So we had our wallabies for several months and they had become a
part of the family. Our wallabies loved to followed us everywhere we went and we spent a great deal of time with them. We were all very sad when Pangi One and Pangi Two both disappeared. We looked everywhere for them but they were nowhere to be found. We figured maybe they ran away, but we thought this was odd because they had never tried to run before.

So my dad had an office a few hundred yards behind the house. Since my dad spend most of the day back there he decided to dig an outhouse next to his office. The pit was dug but the building over it wasn't finished so there was just a big hole about twelve feet deep and five foot square. It wasn't till a week after the pangis went missing that we went to finish the outhouse and found the pangis dead at the bottom of the hole. We were all very sad, but glad to finally know what had happened to them.

At the time we thought this was just a terrible tragedy, but now as I look back I can't help but wonder if something more was going on...

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Dancing Guinea Pig

When I was very young we also owned two guinea pigs, Brownie and Fluffy (or something like that, I actually have no idea what they were named, I was too young to remember). Anyways "Brownie" and "Fluffy" lived in a cage that we moved around the yard in-order to keep the grass short, or maybe just for fun, or, I guess I don't really know why we had guinea pigs. Whatever the reason we had them, my sister Ashley and I thought they were there for our amusement. I think I was about five years old and Ashley would have been three when one day we had the "Brownie and "Fluffy" out of their cage and we were playing with them. Ashley loved to hug the guinea pigs, but one day she discovered something new to do with "Fluffy". She began swinging "Fluffy" around by its (I don't remember their genders) little arms and throwing it in the air. To this day no one knows what really happened, was my sister angry at "Fluffy," or I suppose it could have been an accident. Bottom line "Fluffy" wasn't moving by the time she was finished with it. Ashley came to my mom with the lifeless body of "Fluffy" and innocently asked,"whats wrong with "Fluffy"? It stopped moving while I was playing with it." When we get to heaven maybe we'll find out what really happened to "Fluffy", but until then we'll just have to wonder. Was it the curse of the Baker family pets that killed "Fluffy" or does my sister have a hidden rage that comes out when she sees innocent guinea pigs? No one knows...

The Curse of the Baker Family Pets

I’ve long wondered if every family has such terrible luck with their pets. In the last several years I have brought up the topic with many of my friend and even complete strangers. My findings have brought me to conclude that indeed the pets owned by my family have been and still are at a much higher than average risk of experiencing an untimely and/or unusual demise.

Since I was a little boy my family has owned countless pets of a great variety. My family likes animals, and the fact that we lived in a jungle, on an island in the pacific, is largely the reason for their great diversity. As I recall, we have, over many years owned, five cats, three dogs (not including puppies we gave away), two wallabies, four guinea pigs, a half a dozen chickens, two dozen ducks, a cassowary, a cockatoo, a garden snake, and some sort of jungle possum. I didn’t count the many mice that lived cozily in our walls, because we didn’t particularly want them to survive, thought they seemed to flourish despite our many attempts to remove them.

Our first cat (though I’m not sure whether we ever actually owned it per se) ran away before we ever saw it. The cat was on its way into our village with our supply man. He was carrying the cat in a cage on the back of his motorbike. You might find this odd, but I assure you it was quite regular in our world. Anyways, our supply man was almost to our village when he stopped at an adjacent hamlet to talk to some of the people there. He was explaining to his audience that he had some very interesting cargo on the back of his bike and just as he was about to show them the cat he realized there was no longer a cat in the cage. The cat had managed to pry its way out of the flimsy cage and escape into the jungle. Escaping may not be a good word, because the cat probably didn’t survive long in the jungle on it own. I’m sure it became a tasty snack for one of the any number of the larger creators that roam the night.

We considered, when we heard the bad news, that this may be a bad omen for any pet we might own in the future, but we shrugged it off because we don’t believe in bad omens. Maybe we should have, we may have spared many animals lives if we had decided not to adopt another pet.

more to come...