In Carmine Superiore the past year, I have had cause to learn a new Italian word to add to my paltry vocabulary : prepotente. It's a noun, and unlike so many other Italian nouns, does not change form depending on the gender of the one you apply it to.
It means 'bully', and a bully is a bully is a bully, regardless of gender, race, creed or colour. Or species.
There has been a lot of bullying going on in Carmine Superiore recently. The bully in question is much like any other bully. He's a guy (although, coming from an all-girls school, I know intimately that the very worst bullies can be girls) whose standing in the pecking order is not what he would want it to be. He has a certain ability and this enables him to take out his bad feelings about himself on others. And other people have allowed his unacceptable behaviour to continue since he was old enough to throw his weight around. This bully can certainly give it out, but like all bullies, he can't take it when he's dealt some of his own medicine.
Carmine's bully-boy struts around the place with his chest puffed out, egged on by his single, solitary, friend. He picks on anyone within range, convinced that he is the centre of the universe and that everybody is out to get him. He is frequently inexplicably enraged, and is often to be found, his neck feathers fluffed, making the most noise and the least contribution to his particular corner of society.
Yes, you've guessed it, today is the day that Mama and the Young Cockerel did battle once and for all.
We have two cockerels among our ten-strong squad of chickens. One is a couple of years older and a couple of kilos heavier than the other. He's the boss. The younger, lighter chappie, one of the very few we bred last year, seems to think that pecking me and clawing me every time I go into the pollaio might relieve his feelings of inferiority.
Today, I had had enough of having to carry a big stick in with me every time I fed the chicks, and of watching my butt every time I bent down to check the laying boxes, and of never turning my back on the bullying wretch. To say nothing of the several times he's attacked AJ and B.
I entered. He eyed me sideways. He pecked his girlfriend and stole a piece of leftover pasta from another. I inched my way past the girlies down to the far end of the run, keeping him in my sights all the time. Convinced he was preoccupied with the remains of a nutella sandwich, I turned my back in order to clean the water fountain, and it was then that he hit me, with his spurs, at roughly calf-height. I dropped the scrubbing brush and went after him, got him in a corner, and, avoiding his beak and his claws I had him by the ankles and upside down in the air. He instantly went limp, and was again looking sideways at me, but this time with a very different expression on his beak. I knitted my eyebrows together, put on my fiercest Mama face and bellowed at him a few meaningless threats. I stood there, wondering what I should do next, and I think he was wondering what I would do next.
Instead of hauling him off to the baita and the chopping block, I gently turned him the right way up and set him down. He bobbed his head at me and headed for the security of the coop as fast as his drumsticks could carry him...
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