Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Lefty was a horny rooster like the rest of them, but he was a good worker and a pal.
Lefty's father was a Leghorn and his mother a Rhode Island Red: a combination which produces chicks marked differently, male and female, right out of the egg. Hen chicks for egg farms, rooster chicks to six-week broiler ranches....otherwise into the grinder for feed-back or, in Lefty's case, included in a small, cold weather shipment of chicks to keep them warm .
At a month or so old, he was one of the resolute roosters who up and left the chicken house after the second time a weasel or whatever it was got in and killed a few of the chickens.
Led by the Red Star Dot, the little secessionist flock moved up toward the house, and roosted every night on the deck-rail by my kitchen door.
Red Star roosters are individuals, mostly white with some minor markings to distinguish them.
Dot is "Dot" for the round, brown shoulder patches. But Lefty was "Lefty", because he sat to the left of Dot.... the ruling rooster here.
Whitey, the least decorated of the three was left of Lefty. Albert the Dominiquer, a damaged character who takes no interest in the welfare of the hens and whom the others don't allow near them was allowed up on the railing with the Red Stars.... but no closer than three feet from Whiitey.
On the ground, the three working Stars were easiest to tell apart by their combs, each of which had lost a different amount to frost bite. Although the migrated hens checked back into the chicken house when the temperatures went down into the forties, the house Stars, didn't go back inside except to visit.
Dot has no comb left at all. Whitey''s has scalloped teeth, and Lefty's was a smooth blade.
I pal around with them, but these guys are not pets, and they like a little conversation, but not hugs or pats on the back. They are roosters and they can't help it.... with testosterone levels way off the human scale, But they have a job, which they know and do , mostly without my suggestions..
Sure .... It was a while before the roosters thought their job was to do anything but mount the hens as soon as they hit the ground, but eventually they were leading them to food, and suggesting nest locations.
When the good rooster finds a little something to eat, he will cluck and talk about it, toss it into the air a bit, if necessary to get the attention, and when he had drawn a hen to it, he will move on....without actually eating anything himself.
And when the little flock got to a food trove, some good shade, or a soft wallow where they could stay for a while, the three rooster would stand tall and still in a triangle formation. around the hens... beautiful, imposing, alert..... and when something larger than a crow flew over or if maybe I showed up in a strange hat, they would raise a ruckus that sent the hens into the bushes. They make me proud.
A few days ago all of a sudden, Lefty came up staggering and stinking with the coal black runs.. By the second night, he left or fell off the rail,..and crawled off to heal or die.
I looked around and hoped, but by the third day, I knew I would find him only when I smelled him.
Yesterday I followed my nose and found Lefty under the house. I buried him in one of the little plots out back where a tree I planted didn't work out.
Since Lefty has been gone, I notice that Whitey has allowed Albert the outcast to roost a little closer......but he is never going to take Lefty's place on the job. With people dying horrible deaths everywhere, there will be no crying here over spilt roosters, no visiting hours, and no further ceremony, but I'll remember Lefty.