His crowing was just . . . too annoying

The author with 45, her rooster that just wouldn’t shut up.

A friend of mine and I recently took our roosters to a feed store to get adopted. Marie’s guy had gotten mean. Just going into the pen meant risking fingers, eyes, teeth. Mine was just loud. Even though we both live in a rural area, the sound carries. Doesn’t sit well with many of the neighbors, or me.

When you get a batch of chicks from a hatchery or feed supply, the “pickers” who are trained to separate the females from the males often don’t get it right. You can’t tell for sure with most breeds whether you got stuck with a rooster until the birds are about five months old. The day you hear that fateful crow, it’s a moment for the palm of your hand to slap your forehead.

My bird started yelling — oh, I mean crowing — several months ago. It actually startled me. The chickens were locked in their coop so I went out to the deck, listening. “AAAAAHHHHgurgle,” he screamed. It didn’t sound like a rooster. It sounded more like a woman getting attacked. Someone told me it takes time for a growing rooster to find his voice.

Some city folk might think a rooster cries once in the morning. Nope, the darn things go on all day. He should get a Twitter account, I thought, when he went off one night at 11.

We with backyard flocks often name our birds. Marie gave her rooster the cute little name of Chipmunk, which belied his true personality of attack, attack, attack. I struggled with the anti-woman, belligerent, full-of-self sounds that kept coming out of my rooster’s beak.

Marie has a softer heart than I. Lots of people here in Northern California put their roosters up for free on Craigslist. Or eat them. Marie sought a home where she could be assured Chipmunk would not end up in a cockfight (he’d be good at it) or a stew pot. She called the Biofuel Oasis in Berkeley, Calif., where we had both purchased our “flocks.” They said they couldn’t take the roosters back, but they knew of a woman with connections to a feed store a bit east of here.

We made arrangements to drop our guys off the next week.

Meanwhile, my rooster’s crow continued to evolve. I thought of calling him “The Donald.” Then “Don.” I settled on “45.” He seemed to take to it. He would stand between me and the hens and scowl at me, putting his nose in the air and staring when I opened the gate to feed and water.

On adoption day, Marie and I each boxed up our boys and drove east to the feed store. It took me an hour to wrangle 45 into a beat-up box and secure it with duct tape.

Blood was shed.

Not his.

I have one of those little troll dolls with bright orange hair, and contemplated cutting it off and making “45” a little toupee. But then I thought better of it; I didn’t want to put him through unnecessary trauma.

When we got to the drop-off site we set our boxes down amid others. Marie and her soft heart were sorry to say good-bye. She asked the woman behind the counter about the person who would be coming to get them within the hour. The clerk (owner?) sang the woman’s praises, describing 16 or so acres teeming with livestock, free to range — she even taught roosters how to herd animals. She had a petting zoo for the more tame animals, and children would come to visit.

Marie whispered in my ear, “Chipmunk isn’t going to end up there.”

With the clerk still smiling and Marie satisfied, we turned to go. I hollered back to my beat-up box, “Goodbye, 45!”

The clerk looked perplexed. “45?” she asked. I explained. “You, know,” I said, “He’s named after the 45th president.” A group of customers in Aisle 1 overheard and erupted in laughter. The clerk did not look amused. She wasn’t smiling any more. She glared at me.

She didn’t tell me to get out.

But she didn’t say goodbye, either.

8 thoughts on “His crowing was just . . . too annoying

  1. Your rooster looks very stately. You just have to love those roosters. We have a farm opposite – at least 200 chickens and one rooster. The first rooster was a hero. The fox broke in and he fought and even won more or less. The fox sleeked away and Harald, the rooster, lost a few tail feathers. They never did grow again. Now we have the third rooster since Harald. One of those big white ones that looks as if he comes from a French postage stamp, and he makes a lot of noise, but very melodious.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A good rooster is nice to have IMO. I named mine- a white frizzle- Gargle for the sound he makes even now. Thank you for this story, it brought me a much-needed smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was a kid, one Easter my brother and I got two chicks and a duckling — yeah, yeah, I know, dumb idea but that was then. The chicks turned out to be — yup, boychicks. This on a 50 x 100 ft. suburban lot. They did not sit well with the neighbors, either, once they started crowing. They left before long, but the duckling, Waddle, was my faithful pet for years, recognized me, followed me around…and then got mean as he got old. He turned out to be a mallard, actually, and not a domestic breed at all. Thanks for the flashback.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s