God provides, even when it comes to roosters.
You may remember our boy Roy, the proud, handsome rooster who showed up one day, stole my heart and vanished.
Roy came and went in less than a month, just long enough for me to become a crazy rooster lady. When he disappeared I was crushed. He refused to live in the fenced backyard, and we still wonder if he fell to a predator or simply packed his little red comb and hit the road.
Then, lo, a miracle occurred. A reader emailed asking if we wanted a rooster or two.
Laura and her husband, Steve, are homesteading on 20 acres in Ridgeville. “He grew up in Wyoming and has this dream of showing our 10-year-old twin sons how life is like raising animals,” she wrote. “I’m from Atlanta, so I have no idea what I am doing!”
Last spring the couple bought 22 chicks to generate fresh eggs. The seller said the flock contained just two rooster chicks. “We took it on good faith that we had two males. Fast forward almost five months later: We have EIGHT roosters!”
(Note: Ten years ago I didn’t know anyone who kept chickens. Now backyard flocks are everywhere. Score for the homegrown team!)
Laura said they could only keep two roosters: “The other six, if I can't find them homes, will be butchered. By my husband. I personally think that if this happens, we will have two 10-year-old vegetarians on our hands.” (At this point I was laughing hysterically.)
Laura described the roosters as friendly and tame; “They’ve been around our boys, two dogs, cat (yup, cat), and pygmy goats (a different story altogether). They will eat chicken scratch off of your shoe. They are funny things, and obviously I am attached,” she added.
I read her email twice before it sank in. We were being offered FREE ROOSTERS!! I replied that I was very interested, but had to ask Widdle Baby first.
Now, my own mother—heck, anyone who’s known me longer than 15 minutes--will tell you I’m socially awkward. In tightly-circumscribed situations (think cocktail party, 20 minutes, one glass of wine and three cherry tomatoes on toothpicks), I’m fine. But when free-styling, forget it. I sit there silent, figuring it’s better to appear dumb than speak and remove all doubt.
I explain this so you’ll understand Widdle’s astonishment when I announced, “This lady I’ve never met wants to give us a rooster and we can go to her house Sunday and I really want another rooster so please say yes.”
“Umm, okay?” he replied.
When we showed up at her home, I actually relaxed--it was like seeing old friends. After a few minutes of chatting and swatting mosquitoes, her twins selected the roosters they thought we should have—two huge, hearty specimens as tame as puppies. We popped them into a pet crate and said our goodbyes.
“Let’s stay in touch,” Laura said.
“Yes,” I said, and meant it.
I’m happy to report that “the boys” are amazing. We dubbed them Ben & Jerry. They, unlike Roy, enjoy living in a fenced yard and come running when I walk outside. Yesterday as I was tossing scratch in the grass, Ben began talking earnestly to me. “Buckle-buckle-buckle,” he remarked.
Instinctively I replied, “Buckle-buckle-buckle.” We conversed until I looked up and saw Widdle watching us with his head in hands.
“Don’t worry, you’re still the head rooster,” I said.
He went inside without a word… but I think he was crowing, just a little.
Julie R. Smith, who loves her some chickens, can be reached at email@example.com.