Enter the Stray Rooster
Chickens were not on the schedule for today. Not anywhere, but roosters have their own ideas about how things should go. I saw him from the corner of my eye as I headed into the house with Gleek and Link.
“That’s a chicken.” I exclaimed without thinking.
I immediately had the full attention of both kids, particularly Gleek.
Sometime in the past year or so it has become fashionable for people in our neighborhood to keep chickens. There are half a dozen neighbors who have little coops and gather their own eggs. Gleek knows them all and sometimes visits the chickens. She has even earned the name Chicken Whisperer because she can catch the uncatchable hen and convince it to sit still while she pets it. So our first thought was to catch this interloper. He had different ideas.
He dodged and dove while Gleek tried to corner him. I went into the house and began calling all the known chicken owners. Their answers were the same: No it was not one of theirs, but was this the same chicken my next door neighbor had been calling about yesterday? Yes it is. I’d determined that if we managed to catch the bird, we would have no one to give it to. Obviously the best course of action was to not catch it and hope that it would go back home on its own. I was trying to explain this to Gleek when she succeeded in catching it.
Once caught, he was a well behaved bird. He held still in her arms, and when she sat down with him in her lap, he even dozed off to sleep. She decided his name was Harry. I again tried to explain to Gleek that we should just let him go. We had no cage for him, no food, no way to keep him safe. Gleek argued the case for pet chicken, but then asked if she could at least show it to her friend. So she carried the bird into our back yard. This was when Gleek remembered our walnut tree. It turns out that roosters like to eat walnuts quite a lot. Gleek had the rooster eating out of her hand. This was when our cat wandered up to see what was going on.
These animals are not likely to be friends.
I brought the cat into the house, not entirely sure who I was keeping safe from whom. Gleek finally released her hold on the rooster, but apparently being caught, petted, and fed convinced his little brain that Gleek was the source of all things good in the world. He followed her all over the yard. We all thought this was funny, and it was, particularly when Gleek when running across the yard and he ran-flapped to keep up. But then Gleek came inside and the rooster was convinced he should get to come in too.
He pecked at the door, jumped at the nearby windows, and kept trying his hardest to find a way inside. Fortunately it was dusk and we convinced him to roost by covering all the windows. Even without him pecking at the door, he was still a major distraction at homework time. The kids kept wanting to go peek at the chicken.
I will admit that a small part of me imagined Gleek with a devoted rooster friend in our backyard. The realities are more complicated than that pretty picture. The weather is getting colder. One chicken alone would not fare well against hard freezes. We have no pen nor safe place for him to roost. Also, the more he got used to our yard, the more he seemed to feel that he could peck at Gleek if she did something he didn’t like. Then there is the probability of crowing. Roosters are not really suburban neighborhood friendly. The argument which really convinced the kids that the rooster had to go was when we pointed out that he and our cat are likely to fight, and he is plenty big enough to seriously injure our cat. I don’t care how pretty the rooster is, we love our cat more.
Fortunately a friend with a large flock (far from our neighborhood) has offered to take this rooster and give him a new home. (Hurray for social media as a problem solving tool.) We’ve decided this is a happier option. Hopefully he will enjoy being the rooster for a flock of hens. The friend took him away in a box. This is happy. One evening full of rooster adventures is quite enough for me.
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