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Cock-a-Doodle-Don’t

Our coffee maker is ridiculously slow. I don’t know how old it is, or if the well water ruined it, but it’s slow. I’m not a tyrant in the mornings, but it usually takes me about half a cup to respond to Sadie’s questions. I’ve started filling the pot before I go to bed so all I have to do is shuffle in and push a button. It’s easier to do that with one eye half open, instead of finding the filter, measuring the grounds, pouring the water, etc. It’s amazing how dysfunctional I can be without the stuff.

The new routine is something along the lines of stumbling out of bed to push the button, then I let the dogs out and all three of us make our way up the hill to the chicken coop. Now you have a behind the scenes look at what happens whenever I preface a story with “I went to the chicken coop.” By the time everyone is fed, watered, and happily scratching in the yard, I come back to the house and the coffee is about halfway done.

On this episode of I went to the chicken coop, in my groggy, coffee-deprived state, I noted that the rooster was limping. Rooster’s are not a necessary part of keeping chickens, unless you are planning on raising chicks. Chicks are a completely different post, I’m not going into that now. I prefer a rooster because he protects the brood. He stands guard while the hens eat and makes them feel safe. If he finds an ant mound or a few crickets, he calls to them and proudly watches over while they catch whatever it is he found. He does his job, and he lets me in the coop to do mine. I respect him for that.

Goodness I haven’t even started the story yet.

So I hadn’t drank any coffee yet and the rooster was limping. I thought Oh Lord we’re out of Popsicle sticks how am I going to make a splint, with a tree branch? When I got closer and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I saw that his toes were wrapped in string, it had looped around his spur and prevented him from taking a full step. A bit like when you try shoes on and go to test them out, but that white elastic stuff keeps the same sized shoe in the same box. You can’t undo the darned thing because of course you didn’t bring a knife to Target, and your thumbnails are torn to nubs from where you slipped filing the mare’s hooves to keep her going between farrier visits, or it snagged on a gate or some wire.

I’m yawning, the Rooster is hobbling, and everyone else is fine. I’m not scared of him, his spurs are long but he’s a little too tied up to be able to use them. He could peck me but chicken beaks are for corn, not tearing flesh. I try to corner him and he skips away, clucking low in his throat. I find a tobacco stick and pin the string to the ground, it slows him up but then his other foot gets free. Now he’s running around unhindered, with about 8 inches of string trailing behind.

I follow him around the yard, stomping to step on the string, but he puts on a burst of speed before I can get to him. In my rubber boots and pajamas, I stomp-stomp around the coop for a while, until I realize this isn’t working. I herd the rooster into the roost and shut the door. He immediately realizes his mistake and paces the wire leading out to the yard. I pin his wings to his body and gently fold his legs, picking him up and resting him under my arm – I bit like a football. He’s panting and I’m somewhat panting, and I still haven’t had any coffee.

Doc is a beautiful rooster, with a bright red crown, rust colored body and an emerald green tail. He’s the biggest in the yard, bigger than the ducks. His legs are grey and scaly, he has 3 toes with a nail on each end for scratching. His spurs are almost as long as my thumb. The string was wound around his toes and leg, I pulled it off and stuffed it in my pocket to keep from binding anyone else up. Still panting, I set him back down and he trotted off. When I left the yard he shook his feathers, stretched his wings and crowed. I walked back down the hill to coffee and whatever else the day had in store.

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