Rudolph-The Christmas Roo

After initially getting the time wrong, I complete my evening chores and then waited at the house. After another ten minutes of impatient waiting, I figure I should lock up the chickens and bring Abel inside. As I’m leaving the pasture with Abel, I see a car pull up. A family unloads and I lower my headlamp so that I don’t blind them. They greet me and come up the hill. Abel is, of course, more than delighted to leap into the arms of every last one of them, so I restrain him as they try to pet him and get licked at every extension of their arms.

Through the dark, against the headlights of the van, I see the outline of a boy holding a chicken: The rooster I’ve been waiting for, that I was texted about two days earlier. “He was just too rough with our hens. They were losing all their back feathers.” This was the explanation. Apparently there were two other roosters in the flock as well. “He’s just so gorgeous, we didn’t want to butcher him.” In the dim light of my headlamp, I could see the rooster gripped carefully and loving by the boy. He didn’t seem gorgeous, more like an average dark red rooster.

I walked the boy, his family, and the rooster to the coop and moved the block away so he could gently push the rooster into his new home. Neither the new roo nor any of his new flock mates made a peep. I closed the door behind my new roo and wished him “good night.” I explained to the family that he would be in good company here, that my top roo would make sure he wasn’t too rough. Little did I know that this would not be the issue.

The family left and I went to the house for the night. Twenty-four hours later, I receive a text from my neighbor: “There’s a rooster on my trash can. I put him down and he wandered off but I think he likes people.” I figured it must be him, but I couldn’t check since he was probably in the bushes anyway. The following morning, I didn’t see him at all. I hoped he had made it safely through the night and off to work I went. That evening, I spotted him bedded down, resting in a quite spot outside the pasture. He had made it!

As the sun gave its final glow, I watched my new roo look for a way back to the flock. Chickens know: Safety in numbers. He might like people, but he wasn’t interested in my efforts to softly call him over as I inched towards him. I did my chores, feeding the animals and checking over the herbivores. Eventually I saw him in the pasture, but still far from the coop and on the wrong side of my temporary fencing. Time to herd a chicken. I carefully walked up behind him and put pressure on him to move along the fence. It took three tries before he followed the fence rather than getting spooked and running back around to where we had started. Finally, he was on the correct side!

Next issue was to get him into the coop! At dusk, the roosters run in and out of the coop, arguing about the best roosting spots, and running of potential competition. One of the newer fellas seems to have it in his mind that he’s some sort of bouncer. He took it upon himself to guard the entrance and keep the new guy out. This tiny black roo thought he was tough! Frustrated and tired, I cornered the little black roo and picked him up. I walked around the coop and urged the newest flock member into the coop and quickly sprang behind him to toss the black roo in behind him and shut the door.

The following day, I figured it would be much of the same. I watched the poor new roo, now deemed “Rudolph,” pacing the corner looking for seeds to scrounge up. He kept to himself and didn’t crow or call to the hens. As it began to grow dark, I again watched the little black roo doing his bouncer duty. Rudolph attempted to go into the coop and was chased out twice before I could catch the bouncer. Rudolph then gingerly entered the coop and I again threw the black roo in behind him.

This beautiful roo was indeed gorgeous. He was dressed for Christmas! His feathers were a typical red and green like many roosters, shimmering and bright in the sun. But hidden while he was held by the boy were his mottled red, green, and black feathers dappled by white spots. His tail was long and beautiful even though he had lost some tail feathers in the field somehow-likely caught in the mouth of another feisty roo. Hopefully soon Rudolph will find his place in the clan and be able to play king of the manure pile like the other roosters.


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