They used to be so adorable, those little white fluffball chicks who traveled so philosophically in the paws of my overly enthusiastic son. They were so adorable, in fact, that I’d written in a previous post about how they might have charmed their way out of the stewpot even if they did indeed prove to be roosters when they grew up.
Charm their way out of the stewpot, that is.
They were most definitely roosters, though.
I’d been hoping against hope that my four kindergarten-hatched chicks would all be hens, but statistics won the day. My two little black ones seem to be hens (or incredibly feminine roosters), but the two white ones proved their manhood when I heard the first tentative crow from somewhere down in the chicken pen.
My husband and I initially debated about which of the two white ones it was; Paul thought it was the one who was starting to develop brown splotches, while I thought it was the one whose comb flopped over one eye like an avian beret.
We were both right.
The roosters weren’t too irritating at first, with their sporadic attempts to crow manfully. It was almost cute, how tentative they sounded. It ceased to be as cute when they began practicing their crows at 3 a.m., and all cuteness evaporated completely when they learned how to alternate crows and keep their cacophony continuous for up to an hour at a time. At 3 a.m. Or 3 p.m. Or midnight. Or whenever the Rooster Muse descended upon them.
They had to go.
This was clearly a job for the Amish Mafia.
And thus it was that, when I casually asked my elderly neighbor Emma if they could use the roosters and she said yes, a Hit was born.
I’d originally intended to capture the roosters myself and keep them in a separate enclosure until her husband Jonas could come for them, but my son Sage developed a sudden lust for bird-catching. I told him he could go over and ask Emma when Jonas would likely be available to come for them—I didn’t want to keep the pair confined for too long, lest they overheat and/or kill each other—but somehow the query came out as “Jonas needs to come get the roosters NOW.”
Emma, being the obliging soul she is, immediately sought out Jonas in his woodshop. He dropped what he was doing (not literally, fortunately) and strode briskly to our house to accomplish his mission.
His mission was not an easy one; although he caught one rooster fairly quickly and put it in the cardboard box I’d proffered, the other was as canny as he was obnoxious. He made a run for it.
Jonas tried his best to corner the fugitive, but the bird was eerily dexterous. He darted madly around the pen and, when Jonas almost had him, leapt super-fowl-like over the tall fence, leaving Jonas in the pen with a handful of feathers.
My dog Chaussette sensed that it was her time to shine. She took over the chase, and soon white bird and black dog were hurtling across the yard like a bi-colored comet.
Unfortunately for the rooster, his stamina was confined to his crowing abilities. He soon wore himself out and desperately sought refuge in some weeds, where Jonas—surprisingly agile for a white-bearded man in his seventies—crawled in and emerged with a feebly struggling bird.
The rooster made a few moaning noises (which would have broken my heart with guilt had the creature not woken me up so often), but Jonas did a magical chicken-whisperer move, and the bird settled down. He rode docilely to his fate tucked under Jonas’s arm, while I followed with the box-bound bird.
I thanked Jonas profusely for his trouble, which he graciously insisted was none. To be honest, judging by the predatory gleam in his eye during the chase, I think he’d enjoyed himself as much as Chaussette had.
I didn’t actually witness the culmination of the Hit, but I can safely assume that the roosters are now sojourning in the Stewpot in the Sky.
The next day, Emma asked me if I’d like some meat from the birds, but I refused. The birds weren’t that big—there couldn’t have been much ON them—and Jonas had earned every scrap of what there was. “Besides,” I told her, “You have given me the greatest gift of all: The gift of silence. That’s worth all the rooster meat in the world.”
She wasn’t comfortable sending me home empty-handed, though, so she gave me two cucumbers and a giant tomato.
And the vegetables have been blessedly, blessedly quiet.