We had a rude awakening one morning this spring. Our flock of 10 chickens, which had been whittled down to six by a hawk and a fox, were now, we discovered, actually one rooster and five chickens
Then we had another rude awakening.
Make that TWO roosters and four chickens.
This was not good. Two roosters together does not work. They will fight to the death. The other day, we noticed that one was looking a bit disheveled; blood was on one of its wings. We pulled it out of the coop and let it wander around while we were outside. NOW what? My wife, Ginny, and I wondered. We talked. We pondered. We talked some more. We wondered some more. What to do, what to do. What to do?
“You want me to kill it,” I said.
“I’d never ask you to do that.” Ginny responded.
I could. Done it before. An axe is quickest – but messiest, too. It’s true, by the way, they really do run around without their heads.
A gun would get it over quick. But dang, where did I put the shotgun shells?
My friend Shelley drowns hers. She catches them, puts them in a bag and takes them down to the river behind her barn. Jeezum, Shelley, do you hold them under until they stop thrashing? Yup.
As this thought progressed through my mind, the rooster, the weaker of the two, the peaceable one, started hanging out around our feet. He was hungry. We gave it some grain. It celebrated like it was dawn.
The day moved on. The rooster hung out while I was making syrup. It didn’t have a real good sense of how hot the fire arch was. Nor did it understand the implications of coming to close while I was splitting wood. Hmmm, just a quick reach … I couldn’t do it. It was kind of cute the way it was following me around.
So that night my wife and I wimped. We just left him out, let nature take its course. We gave it a night, two at the most, and a fox or maybe fisher cat or a hawk or an ermine would do it’s thing, Then we’d let the other one out.
But the rooster had other ideas. Two nights stretched into three, four, a week. Now, when we come out it bounds around the corner from behind the house, a jouncy little fellow so glad to see us. And we continue to throw him some grain. And he celebrates
So I asked a few kids what to do. I started with a couple of teen boys.
“What’s his name?” a boy asked.
I made it up. “Quaker,” I said. He’s a pacifist. The boy nodded, as if he understood.
“Why don’t you poison it,” said another. I explained I had a dog.
“Jeez,” said another boy, “why don’t you just grab it by the head and break it’s neck.” He made a quick twisting motion. The boy was a hunter. Been there; done that.
I decided to consult some second graders, without, you’ll be relieved to hear, any mention of some form of violence.
“Why don’t you do some work on your chicken coop,” said one girl. “Maybe you could put up a wall or something and each could stay on their own side, kind of a chicken condo or something.”
Another girl, sitting in a chair and watching her feet flap back and forth five inches from the floor, spoke up. “ You need to talk to them,” she said. “You need to tell them stop fighting. That’s not good at all.”
Quaker lives on. He now follows us everywhere. When we hike in the woods out back of the house, when we take the dog for a long walk, when I go down the drive a quarter mile for the mail.
And when we throw him some grain, he tells us how much he likes it.
Now, though, he is following us to our door, even to the point of coming up the first step. He wants to come inside.
Sorry, Quaker, but there are limits.