The guy who takes in exhausted laying hens struck again. This time with a rooster that had decided to drive several of the older, henopausal chickens out of “his” flock. The man had tried everything, but it had boiled down to this: get rid of several old, tired hens or the rooster.
So Spouse drove over at the first light of dawn, or, since that happens at about 4 in the morning this time of year, shortly before 8, which is when the man lets his chickens out to roam freely. He came back at 9 with his sympathy face on and an enormous rooster in his arms. What was left of its spurs, which had been sawed back once or twice, was thicker than my thumb.
The rooster blinked at me and all I could think was no, no, no. I don’t like this at all.
“We have to find him a home,” I said. For it was a shame just to kill this creature just to kill it. But Spouse just looked at me. People around here were always trying to get rid of roosters. There wasn’t anybody who would want him, not even to freshen up their gene pool.
But I could see by the look in Spouse’s eye that he wanted to keep him.
“Oh, no,” I said. That was not going to work.
He tried anyway. He put the huge rooster down in the half of the chicken run we closed off a year ago for Miss Chickie, our strangely goose-stepping iconoclast hen, who Bertie Rooster decided to run off because she was none too impressed with him and refused to bow down to his authority. And I ran straight over with the rake, which was the first long weapon-like thing I could grab. Because I figured this was going to get ugly. It’s bloody enough when you mix in two new hens after giving the chickens the chance to spend the night together that miraculously makes them open to living with each other.
The first thing we realized was that we really hadn’t grasped how small and delicate Bertie Rooster is. Serious runt of the litter territory.
But the little guy did his best. First he crowed, just to make it clear this was his garden and his flock of ladies, Miss Chickie aside. Then the cocky little guy tip toe danced straight up to what passes for the fence and flared his neck feathers.
The big hunk of new rooster, who was like the bodybuilder to the 98 lb weakling, strode straight up to the flimsy netting fence and flared out his neck feathers in response. And the two roosters started pecking at each other beaks and jumping up and playing pattycake with their feet.
We couldn’t tell if this display, which was what it was, was the prelude to the fight or just the ritual they would go through to decide who was boss. But we decided that we didn’t want to find out. And that this whole thing just wasn’t fair to Bertie Rooster, who would get his ass sorely kicked. Because he’s too cocky to have the sense to back down and way too meager to have won that fight.
So after asking one neighbor if she knew of anyone who needed a rooster, and hearing that everyone she knew of was full up, the new rooster got his head chopped off. (Spouse, grimacing, “At least I seem to have perfected my technique.”) The neighbor is plucking and boiling the rooster and then I’ll be tasked with making a chicken pot pie that she and Spouse will split with each other (since I am an almost entirely non-dairy vegetarian and the neighbor’s husband almost literally only eats beef, pork, sauerkraut, bread, butter, cheese, and potatoes).
At least last week two of the hen rescue man’s more elderly hens managed to die peacefully in their sleep all on their own or I suppose we would have gotten a phone call to dispatch them as well.
It’s enough to make you long for city life.