Many of you have asked about Chanticleer, the rowdy rooster who showed up one day at the Ponderosa. (That’s what Widdle calls the homeplace.)
He’s fine, but he’s no longer Chanticleer. During my boring, English-major explanation about Chaucer and the history behind the name, Widdle’s eyes glazed over. Then he gave me his patented “My wife always brings the crazy” look and said: “I call him Roy.”
Widdle bought a bag of chicken scratch at the feed store, and Roy has settled in. He disappears sometimes (more on that later), but when in residence he hangs out ‘neath the old oak tree or under a gigantic rosebush by the picket gate.
As large as he is, Roy can be surprisingly hard to see, even with his giant red comb and green tail feathers. When he startles me I drop groceries and library books. When I startle him he flaps his wings and poops, which doesn’t help my self-esteem.
Widdle and I keep the scratch on the side porch and alternate feeding Roy in the unfenced yard twice a day. Roy may have a soybean-sized brain, but he quickly figured out that food comes from the porch attached to the house where the two-legged creatures live.
One morning last week, Widdle let Nicky, aka Babygirl, out the porch door to relieve herself in the clover patch. (She gets unsupervised potty breaks because in eight years she’s never left the yard.)
I was still sleeping blissfully when Widdle walked in our bedroom cackling. (You knew I had to do that sooner or later, right?) “I just looked out to check on Nicky and Roy has her hemmed up on the porch!” he blurted.
I shot upright and screamed, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” As I staggered raving towards the door, Widdle began gently herding me in circles back to bed.
“Calm down, I’ll handle it,” he said. Which meant he let Nicky in and fed her sliced turkey until Roy gave up and wandered off.
In just a few weeks, Roy has become a fixture at our house. He comes a bit closer to us every day. And each time Nicky chases him, they both go a little slower. It’s hilarious—these days she strolls after him and he just ambles away looking bored. They’ll be sharing acorns before it’s over.
We like having Roy around. He eats lots of bugs and has quite the personality. But here’s the thing: Roy may be running a con.
Last Sunday, during the “joys and concerns” segment of the service at our church, I raised my hand to speak. Normally I don’t open my mouth, but this was at 8:30 a.m. so I wasn’t fully awake.
When the pastor said, “What is your joy?” I replied, “We have a rooster.” I said a few more words about Roy--and here’s the great thing about life in the country: Everyone smiled and nodded. No-one said, “That’s silly,” or “Say what?” Country people know about roosters—and, it turns out, Roy in particular.
One lady, a longtime member, said, “That rooster shows up at my house all the time. He comes through the woods.” A man said, “He comes by my place, too.”
Roy was looking for a better deal!
Widdle turned as red as a Roy’s comb, and fowl jealousy flew through me. I wanted to cry, “He’s MY rooster!” but Widdle’s elbow was in my ribs.
So here I am, middle-aged and worrying about mortality and mortgages, salvation and the stock market… and my rooster is running around on me. That’s nothing to crow about.
Julie R. Smith, who plans to follow Roy this week, can be reached at email@example.com.