There’s something about Guinea – its natural fertility perhaps – that makes people want to get back to the land. Not me, so much, but other people. My housing compound has already been functioning as an agricultural co-op; we have avocado, papaya, mango, and coconut trees on the premises, and periodically the gardeners will come around with armfuls of fruit for each of us, harvested from our very own trees.

But my next-door neighbor Ricky* wanted to take the next step in his quest to become a gentleman farmer, so with the approval of the Homeowners’ Association (the four of us who live there), he has decided to raise chickens. After months of tooling around with chicken wire and locating a source of high-quality poultry from approved bloodlines, the compound has now welcomed its newest residents.

Introducing Josiah, Jedidiah, Jisbeth, Jasper, and Jinger**

Other embassy wannabe chicken farmers have not had very good luck with their pullet pursuits. Their fowl have gotten sick or wandered off or fallen victim to various marauding carnivores, but Ricky is determined to beat the odds. I’m less optimistic, but it would be nice to have a steady source of super-fresh eggs in the event that they do make it to maturity. In the pioneer bartering spirit, I’ll trade desserts for eggs. Cardamom molten chocolate cakes perhaps.

There’s also been idle talk about expanding the menagerie with a peacock, or perhaps a goat. But peacocks are notoriously bad-tempered and our other neighbor Seamus* only wants a goat if it’s a designer miniature goat small and cute enough for Paris Hilton to carry around in a Prada bag. Like these. We’re not sure if Guinea is quite hip enough for those to be readily available. And as for me, I have my hands full with the cat, who seems very eager to get to know our new neighbors. He’s already been on me to invite the new chicklets over for a playdate…

*Not his real name, but he picked it out.
** Yes, those are really their names.