Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I don’t mean to bum everyone out with a sad story. I even thought about just not mentioning it, but it’s kind of amazing that one white rooster would have such an impact on so many people. I’m not usually fond of chickens, as I’ve told you before, but our neighbor, the Chief, really captured my heart. And now, he’s gone.
It was very weird. I saw the rooster and his girls coming over to our yard from across the road yesterday. I was on my way next door to my other neighbor’s house to use her fax machine, but I ran back to the kitchen and grabbed the bag of bread scraps and corn chips that we save for them. The little band of birds had already crossed over and were gathered in the bushes between our house and the one next door. They like to root around in the dirt and take naps over there. Two of the hens saw me sprinkle the goodies next to my forsythia bushes. I thought it was odd that the Chief didn’t come running with his funny hop-along, wait- wait- I’m-in-charge-here gait like he normally did. I went into my neighbor’s house and didn’t really think about it again.
Ten minutes later, she and I walked outside, and I could see that all the hens were eating in my yard, but the Chief was still in the bushes. I had a bad feeling. My neighbor went to check it out, but I couldn’t go look. “He’s a goner,” she announced. He didn’t appear to have suffered, just fallen asleep and passed away. I started to cry. Of course, the people who own him and their three little kids were even more upset than I was. We had a little funeral by the henhouse. My daughter, my 95 year old mom, several neighbors, and the immediate family attended. We were all very sad.
Why do I need to tell you this and why am I so touched by a gimpy white rooster? I’ve been seriously considering what made him so special. He was loved, and he knew it. Everyone treated him with kindness and respect. The children played with him like they would with a dog. He watched after his harem and if one of the hens wandered off, he’d run right over and push her back with the others so she didn’t get hurt. He would eat corn chips, his favorite treat, out of my hand and let me stroke his smooth feathers. On Monday afternoon, I was down by the barn when he came over to spend some quality time with his ladies under my forsythia bushes. He crowed to me, and I waved my arm to welcome them. What he did in response made me laugh with delight. He lifted himself up and flapped both his big wings at me, as if he was waving back. Who would have thought that a simple chicken could touch and connect so many people? Each one of us had our own favorite stories and routines that we shared with this personable fellow.
A good rooster is hard to find. They’re going out today to hopefully find a new one, but he’s got some big clawprints to fill. We’ll all miss you, Chief.