Digging through some old journal entries and thinking about fowl, again, I recently asked my mom what useful purpose roosters served on the farm. She immediately started laughing, saying, “Linda, surely you know what roosters do!!!” That put both of us on the floor laughing. “Of course I do! But we never hatched our own chicks, so why did we have roosters around?”
I ask because the one I so vividly recall was the meanest damn bird. To leave the house and avoid attack, we kept a long-handled spade outside by the door to hold him off so we could make it to the truck, or if he was super aggressive, to knock him a bit silly. He terrified us kids. We would carefully open the door, peek out, and grope for the handle of the spade leaning against the side of the house. Often, hearing the door open would bring him running, full strut. An alpha male with no fear, even considering he was only a third the size of a kid. His head bobbed back and forth, and his pace never slowed when the spade was in sight. Brazen and bold, but dumb.
In the morning, when we walked down our long lane to wait for the bus, he would occasionally find us. Our screams would draw Mom out of the house, and she would act as a decoy and get him to chase her instead of us. I can only recall one time that he was of any benefit to me. After my sister and I had had a pretty good fight, she went outside and I went to our bedroom. I ran to the window when I heard her screams from outside. She had ventured into the barnyard without the spade and that rooster was hot on her trail! I distinctly remember thinking, “I win.” So why did we have that rooster? I had forgotten that we took him in when Mom’s cousin and her family moved away and could not take him with them. We were a rooster refuge. Mom nor I can remember what ever happened to him, but we both remember his mean streak.
I know another rooster story that took place well before any farm memories settled in my brain. My dad had a “pet” rooster with enormous spurs on the back of his legs, near his feet. When Grandma or Mom went into the chicken coop to pick up eggs, he often saw their visits as an opportunity for battle. He would jump on their backs and peck them, using those spurs to dig in. I can easily visualize the episode, complete with the sound bite of the cussing that ensued. Fed up one day after my grandma had been attacked, my mom told Grandma they had a little job to do. The rooster had chosen the wrong day for battle because Mom and Grandma had extra time on their hands.
It took Dad a while to realize the rooster was gone. When he finally asked about him, Mom delivered the one-liner: “You ate him for dinner a few days ago.” I hesitate to write this; it sounds so close yet so foreign! To hear this story without the background of living in a place so close to your meals, it sounds a little barbaric. That was probably over 35 years ago. We all laugh over it now, and Dad says he didn’t eat chicken for a month after that. And the reason this rooster was kept around? Dad and Grandpa liked to hear him crow. Can you guess who never picked up the eggs?
If Grandma were still alive, she and Mom would be able to co-teach an inspiring version of “Problem-solving” in today’s world. If chased by a rooster, you pick up a long-handled spade. If attacked by a rooster, you do what you need to do. Either way, deal with it and move on.
Linda P.S. Mom, thanks for filling in the gaps of my memory for this one! Judy, thanks for the “material”! ;)