Our Sheriff has disappeared. The ever-present anchor of the chicken coop was always there until one day he was not. We presume that he went down defending his coop and was carted off by the enemy.
Four years ago we welcomed this seasoned gentleman into our coop and quickly dubbed him Chuck Norris. He assumed his reign with much humility and grace, appointing Brownie as his queen. Together they ruled, stoically suffering the many generations of riff-raff passing through the coop, imposing a stern code of conduct. Last year was wrought with a plague of roosters, spawned from the secret liaisons of two different hens. There were, I think, six different cockerels (young roosters) in there until we thinned them out, but they were all kept in check by Chuck Norris; the absence of cock fighting was remarkable.
He taught us about the Gentleman Rooster’s Code of Honor. We were entirely ignorant of the services provided by a dutiful rooster, writing them off as mere blow-hards spouting off all day, perhaps acting a bit macho if danger presents itself. This was just fine with us, as we are the type of people who enjoy the melodic crow of a rooster to keep us firmly rooted in place throughout the day, but we were quite shallow in our expectations.
I had read that a good rooster would serve as guardian to the flock, standing guard when they ranged and keeping the senseless hens from wandering too far, essentially acting as chaperone. This ruffled my own feminist sensibilities, as you can imagine, so my motive in getting a rooster was purely for the pastoral soundtrack he would provide.
With this prevailing mindset, I chastised him in those early days when he arrived first to the scattering of cracked corn that I tossed out. Pig! I thought to myself, so steeped in my own prejudice that I almost missed what came next. He’d pick up the goodies I’d thrown out, inspect them with his beak, and drop them back to the ground. Then he would call out in soft chicken language a sort of warbling message that I loosely translate into, “Come, Darlings – this is for you and our unborn children – eat up.” I never saw him actually eat much of what was there, but he was always johnny-on-the-spot to vet it for his Ladies. He was a doting rooster.
He heralded the impending birth of Errol. He sounded the alarm when the coop fell under raccoon attack. He flashed his wings in a showy display after mating, what we imagined to be a “Thank you, Ma’am. Thankyouverymuch.” sort of courtesy. He made these Acres sound like home. He was always there and now he’s not.
That he had been preparing for this inevitable conclusion and mentoring Dr. Hook (white & black in front) is little consolation, but it is the best we’ve got. So it goes.
Farewell Chuck Norris – you will live on here in affection and infamy.