Late last week, I sent my husband an email. The subject line said, "the rooster…". When he opened up the email, I finished my thought, "…must go."
The rooster must go.
But I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up in the story to explain how I got to this place.
Two weeks ago, my husband made one of his typical stops to drop off tractor parts for a local farmer. Before he stopped at the farm we talked, "This will be quick. I doubt he'll even be home. I won't be long."
As darkness began to fall and it had been more than an hour since our conversation, I began to wonder. I figured the farmer must have been home after all, and knowing Dan they were deep in some conversation about crops or tractors or what farmers on the eastern shore were up to. Either that, or he was belly-up underneath a tractor, up to his elbows in grease, putting on the parts himself.
A few minutes later, the porch door flung open and Emma collapsed into my lap in tears. She and Mary had been with Dan for his delivery.
"Daddy brought home a rooster!"
I rolled my eyes. "A rooster?"
"Yes! Mr. Adams gave Daddy one of his roosters. He's putting it in the coop with the chickens. I don't want a mean old rooster!"
I had to confess, I didn't really want a mean old rooster either. I already lucked out with our last one. And I was feeling pretty content with our little clutch of hens.
When Dan got inside he explained what had happened, that the farmer had too many roosters, that he offered one to us, that he was such a beautiful, friendly rooster.
Emma told me the story of how the farmer had tucked the rooster's head under his wing, rocked him back and forth a few times in his arms and put him to sleep. She told me how he laid him down in the grass and he just stayed there sound asleep.
I asked Dan where this new rooster was now and he told me he had slipped him into the dark coop with the chickens.
Just a few days before, I had been reading a book and oddly enough the author mentioned her father's technique for introducing a new chicken to the flock. The book, obviously, has nothing to do with chickens. But I had mentioned the technique to Dan and he decided to give it a try. Slip the new chicken (or in this case, rooster) into the coop once it is dark and everyone is roosting. And in the morning, they wake up, see the new addition and figure he must have been there all along and they never noticed. And everyone gets along smashingly.
And I have to confess, the technique worked.
But still the rooster had not won us over. Emma and I were still skeptical and pretty sure we weren't interested in having a rooster.
That is, until the next morning when we heard his faint crowing from the coop. We were both outside when we heard it. We looked at each other, smiled and declared together, "Hey, I kind of like this!"
And then, we went to see him. And boy, Dan was right. He was a good-lookin' boy.
Alright. He could stay.
That evening, when it was time to lock in the chickens, we took a count. Six hens. No rooster. We searched around the sheds, inside the stone barn and couldn't find him anywhere. Finally we found him in the wood shed, roosting on the rungs of one of Dan's ladders. Much to the rooster's distress, Dan carried him over to the coop and locked him in for the night.
We figured he was still learning the ropes and didn't remember how to get back to the safety of his shed.
The next night, same thing. This time, we found the rooster roosting in a different shed deep down inside a box of kindling we'd been starting to collect for the winter. And this time, he wasn't as easy to catch. But we did and he got a personal escort back to the coop.
Third night. Same story. No rooster.
Except this time, when Dan went to catch him, he was absolutely, positively not interested in being carried off to the coop. He took flight. He panicked. He dashed around the yard, under trees, behind sheds, around the house….and finally straight up the center line of Thomas Run.
Finally, as the darkness really began to thicken we gave up. There was nothing we could do. We left the chicken as he ran up the road towards the neighbor's house. I wondered what the next car driving up the road would think when their headlights caught a large red rooster in a mad dash up the pavement.
I went to bed convinced he wouldn't make it through the night, but I had to admit, I didn't have much sympathy for the rooster we'd now named, "Roosevelt.". You can only offer a rooster so much help, but if he doesn't want to accept it, there's not much you can do.
There's more to this story, but this is getting awful long-winded and long….the rest of the story, tomorrow.