I've written frequently about how much I enjoy keeping chickens. I love to watch them set and maintain their social order. I love to watch the roosters act just like human men so I can make derogatory comments about the less evolved species (Unfortunately there was this article claiming men evolve faster so I'll have to choose my audience carefully. Of course, the article also claimed men are simpler creatures, therefore able to evolve faster so perhaps I can change my angle). And I love to eat eggs and chicken.
But sometimes quirks of nature, timing, and luck create circumstances that stretch that loving relationship to the breaking point. Remember this half breed, orphaned rooster, Sport? Well, he grew. He matured, you know, sexually. Guess what? He still thinks he is a cat, if you know what I mean. When I first looked out the window and saw him attempting the impossible, I laughed. Now, neither the cats nor I find him amusing in the least. You see, he has a few other bad habits.
First and foremost of Sport's bad habits is that he won't roost in the chicken coop. He has decided to roost in the cedar tree right outside my bedroom window. He started roosting there soon after the mama cat rejected him because of, you know, his newly acquired passion. Because he has chosen not to roost in the coop, we have no control over his comings and goings, food, or safety - not to mention, noise level. When roosters get older, they crow. They crow a lot - not just when the sun rises, but when the wind rattles the tin on the house, a car makes too much noise going down the road, when they sense danger, and to get attention. Sport crows incessantly at night, usually starting around 2 a.m. After a few nights of 2 a.m. crowing, Mr. W and I decided Sport had to go.
Each year we eat all the roosters except two who are carefully chosen for genetic traits we wish to accentuate in our flocks. We had a few late summer roosters who were slated for the dinner table, so we decided to go ahead and harvest them, and Sport the Loud. Honestly, I have a difficult time with the actual harvest, but can pluck and clean a bird with amazing efficiency, so I let my husband go out first and take care of the nasty business, then I join him do the rest. On the morning of the scheduled harvest, I waited my typical 15 to 20 minutes inside the house, then tromped outside expecting to get right to work.
Instead I saw a flashlight in the barn. I called out, "Mr. W what are you doing?"
"I'm trying to do what we planned to do," he called out in an annoyed voice.
"But, why are you in the barn?," I asked in a forced cheerful voice.
"One of the roosters got away and I'm trying to catch it." Understatement of the year. If a rooster is loose in the barn the chances of catching it are almost nothing.
He walked back toward the house with one rooster under his arm and a flashlight in the other hand. I mentioned that it would be impossible to catch anything since he didn't have a spare hand. I offered to hold the rooster he had in his arm while he caught the other. He caught sight of the rooster on the cattle gap and since chickens don't see that well (so we thought) in the dark, he thought he would be able to catch it there. The rooster obviously has no dark induced balance or sight problems because he negotiated the bars with aplomb, whereas the humans almost broke their necks. The chase continued for about an hour and a half until the sun arose and the other chickens awoke. We let the other roosters free and vowed to take care of business the following morning.
The following morning was a comical repeat of our chase and failure. We vowed to lure the rooster into the coop, or garden, or the shed, or .... anywhere he could be caught, but to no avail. The rooster was always one step ahead, all day. That night we vowed to capture the rooster as he was climbing to his roost in the cedar tree. Sport would climb the wood pile to reach the lowest branch and Mr. W would be waiting for him. The rooster then would fly to the ground and run around the house. After a while, Sport would try again and again and again. We gave up. That night the rooster mocked us all night with his incessant crowing and we arose early with a newly created plan. Mr. W would shoot the rooster with a rifle. The rooster hopped out of that tree as soon as Mr. W opened the screen door and Mr. W chased the rooster around the house with his rifle. I see visions of Elmer Fudd here. Sport never stayed still enough for Mr. W to get a shot, though he fired twice. We harvested the other roosters that morning, deciding to give Sport a reprieve until a new plan is formed.
My sister spent last Saturday night here. After being awakened at 2 a.m. by Sport's caustic crow, she said she would put the capture and harvest of that crazed rooster on the top of her list.
Sport is still on the lam. We are still in pursuit.