The life and times of Big Red the rooster

September 01, 2011

Many of our elders who have some memory of visiting a farm will likely have a special story or two about roosters.

My own story involves those days when I was a kid and my grandmother would send me out to protect Mrs. Vi Johnson as she walked that path through the woods to my grandmother's house. I sometimes had to bust the rooster in his head with a broom to protect Mrs. Vi before she got to the porch.

Most recently, my neighbor was preparing to go on vacation and he needed someone to feed his chickens. He asked my wife, Sheila, if she knew anyone who might be interested in the job. My wife told him no.

Sensing a dilemma for my neighbor, Sheila volunteered to feed his chickens for the week he would be away. He thanked her for the assistance, showed her where the feed was kept, "and oh, by the way, I have a rooster that is mean," he told her.

On the first morning, Sheila was up bright and early to feed the neighbor's chickens. I decided to sleep late.

She soon returned. "That's one mean rooster," I heard her say excitedly as she came back into the house. "That rooster really tried to get me," she said.

"He is big, crows really loud and followed me around just waiting for me to turn my back."

"Maybe you can go up with me in the morning," she suggested.

Remembering my own rooster story, I thought I would go with her to offer a little protection.

The next morning, I took a broom and a small rake along with me just in case.

When we got to the back of the house where the chicken pens were, there was Big Red sitting on a large stump where he would roost at night.

When he saw us coming, he began to crow and crow and crow. He looked like a big rooster monster on that stump.

When my wife went into the first pen to feed the chickens, he strutted his stuff and circled the pen waiting for her to come out. Occasionally, he would stop and give out his loud crow that sounded more like a Cherokee war hoot.

As my wife prepared to exit the pen, Big Red got closer and closer to her. As he leaped high in the air in the direction of my wife with one of those World Wrestling drop-kick moves, I intervened and pushed him over with the rake.

He rolled, but got back up quickly and threw his chest out again and offered another war hoot. At that time, we decided to leave him alone with his temper tantrum and his cackling harem.

The neighbor told my wife, "at one time, Big Red was a nice rooster, and he got to stay in the pen with the laying chickens, but something snapped and he became downright mean to the hens. I had to remove him from the pen and now he has to stay out in the yard."

Big Red was not only mean but also had a problem with "authority," I thought.

On Wednesday morning, I went with her again, and walked slowly around the house. No crowing was heard this time; the stump was empty, and Big Red was nowhere to be found. As I got closer, I noticed some feathers strewn about the yard. They were Big Red's.

Something had snatched him from this life. Maybe a hungry fox, coon or possum was the villain. Big Red was gone.

I guess the moral of the story is quite simple: If you're going to be a bad, mean rooster and want to crow all the time, you better be able to back up your crow when a meaner creature shows up to have you for dinner.

And that's the story of Big Red.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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