When I'd last said goodnight to Roosevelt, he was walking up the center line of Thomas Run in the pitch black night. There was nothing we could do. I'd given up hope of his survival through the night.
The next morning at six a.m., I wasn't' awakened by the morning
light, or a sleepy-headed child, but I greeted my morning to the sound of
a rooster crowing, right outside my bedroom window. Over and over
again, he crowed. And I listened as he made his way around the house.
Crowing. And crowing. I laid in bed and waited. Waited to hear the
sound of little feet and whining voices, awakened by Roosevelt's march
around the house. But by some supernatural act of God, they slept
through the whole escapade. Thank goodness for sound machines.
By this time, I was beginning to hint
to Dan that maybe the rooster wasn't meant to be part of our little
farm. That maybe he needed to go back home. We decided to give him a
few more nights and if he didn't start behaving, we'd send him back to
The next evening, when we locked in the chickens,
Roosevelt was MIA. Nowhere to be found, not even in any of his usual,
though annoying roosting places.
There was nothing we could do. We called it a night.
morning, concerned that I was sleeping in way too long and wasting my
day, Roosevelt began his crowing at 5:15. And he obviously wanted me,
and the rest of the household to know that he'd made it through one
more night without the safety of the coop. So he began his crowing
campaign around the house.
And then I sent that email. The rooster must go.
next evening, was a repeat of the one before, but one thing differed.
Around 2a.m, I heard clucking and squawking outside my bedroom window.
I clutched my hands over my ears and elbowed Dan, who was still sound
asleep despite the ruckus.
"Dan!!! Roosevelt is getting eaten! Get out there and stop it! Please!!"
Dan, the man of few words (in the middle of the night) and lots of
common sense said something along the lines of, "It's too late now. If
I stop it mid-way through, then he's going to be hurt and I'm going to
have to put him out of his misery. There's nothing you can do about
I slowly inched my hands away from my ears and forced
myself to listen to Roosevelt's last clucks which now sounded like they
were coming from across the road. I hated to think it, but I figured a fox was dragging him away.
Then, I began to worry about the
At the same moment, Dan realized that if it was indeed a
fox, he needed to get out there with his gun to prevent him from coming
back and making a smorgasbord out of the other chickens, the ducks or
even one of the cats.
I snuck downstairs to the dark kitchen
and watched Dan out the window as he sat quiet and still on the back
deck, gun loaded and aimed into the yard. The full moon cast long dark
shadows of silver and gray across the grass. It was a perfect night to
look for foxes.
Eventually I went back up to bed, hoping I
wouldn't hear any gun shots, but anxious to hear that all three ducks
were accounted for.
When he came back to bed, he told me that
the ducks were fine and that they'd probably be much smarter in the
morning. I had no idea what he meant, until he explained that he had
taken the kitchen radio and put it out on the deck by the ducks. It was
playing a radio station where a deep, soothing-voiced man read the
Bible through the wee hours of the night. Ironically, the radio would
most likely be our ducks salvation–the sound of a human's voice
keeping away any predators.
That morning, there was no crowing.
When my eyes opened and I realized it was past the normal crowing
hours, I then knew that Roosevelt had been eaten that night. We knew it
was inevitable. In this area, a chicken can only stay unprotected for
so long before it is discovered and gobbled up.
I felt a pang of
sadness for the way Roosevelt had to die, but I also felt like we'd
done everything we could. Our rooster interventions had failed. He didn't want our help.
And now, everything was back to normal. Just six little hens and three little ducks.
Roosevelt still had more story to tell.
That afternoon, I was out running errands when my cell phone rang. It was Emma.
"MOM! YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE THIS! The neighbors up the road just called and said our rooster is running around their farm!"
Roosevelt didn't get eaten, and whatever frightened him off his roost
sent him dashing up the road, across cornfields, through the woods, to
a neighbor's farm. I even clocked the distance–it was at least half a mile.
That afternoon, Dan headed up to their
house with a chicken crate in the back of the farm truck to find
Roosevelt and bring him home. A few minutes later the girls and I
followed in case it would be necessary to round him up and corner him
somewhere on their farm.
But Roosevelt was nowhere to be found.
We left empty-handed. No rooster. No Roosevelt.
Either Roosevelt now belongs to the people and farms and homes of Thomas Run. Or he belongs to heaven.
And I suppose, that's the end of the story.
keep you posted. Though I wouldn't be surprised to hear a crowing
outside my window one of these mornings, when Roosevelt decides to make
his way back up Thomas Run to his first home. Or, for that matter, a yellow taxicab to stop at the end of the lane and drop him off.
[photo by katie pertiet —who's addicted to photographing my chickens]