How do I feel about that? A little bittersweet. He was, as I said above, a motivating factor in my life. But then he was also a great big massively huge fat pain in the ass. A beautiful bird, but a pain in the ass.
This last winter when it got wet he started this weird high stepping walk. It was like his feet were bothered by the wet ground. So he'd lift them high and then put them down ever so slowly. Hinky jerky like. I thought it could be arthritis, but never pursued it. The fact that he was not walking well meant he was not threatening me. When things dried up his walk went back to normal and he started attacking again.
Then a couple months ago he seemed to slow down a bit and started this really loud, obnoxious squawk. Only, apparently, for me. Nobody else, just lucky ol' me.
As soon as I'd get in their yard he'd start, "Squaaaaaaaaaaawk squawk squawk squawk squawk".
"SQUAAAAAAAAAAAWK squawk squawk squawk squawk."
See how annoying that is? And it'd get longer and louder, just like above. Only you have no idea how freaking loud it was. That squawk could drown out the Foo Fighters. But his music would make my skin crawl. I prayed he'd get well, shut up and start attacking me again. That would have been a relief. Fingernails on a chalk board sound like Braham's Symphony No. 4 in E Minor compared to that squawking feathered banshee from hell.
Then about three days before he died I noticed he wasn't perching up with the hens. He was inside the cage but stayed below on the ground. Apparently he could not make the leap. But he showed no overt signs of distress. And if he did, I doubt I would have tried to fix him. I'm sure I would have just shot him instead.
Nature took care of his sorry ass. I went up a week or so ago in the early afternoon to fill their puddle and give them their corncicles when I noticed him down. And gone. Still limp and warm, so I'm thinking I might have missed him by mere minutes.
My first impulse was a pang of sorrow. And then I started dancing a jig. He was a constant source of agitation for me. I put up with him for years because the hens seemed to like him. I don't know why. He had to be a rough, lousy lay. He'd jump on their back for three seconds and was done. In his prime he was doing two to three hens an hour.
But they'd preen him and tussle a bit to get in the prime perch spots around him at night. He also engaged in a couple predator attacks with a hawk and bobcat. So he was protective of his girls.
But for roughly 4,015 visits to their domain over the last five and a half years I always had to be on guard. I'd kick him back six feet and he'd charge for more. I couldn't turn my back on him or he'd be on me in seconds. He pecked my lovely wife numerous times as well as our darling granddaughter once.
He almost got his neck rung on that one, but I let him ride. My lovely wife and I even hand held and nursed him back to health a couple years back. Did that stop his antagonistic attacks? Hell no. He was back at it as soon as he was able.
I have learned this though. It's a waste of time to try and reason with a rooster. They may appear to be listening, but even if they are, they don't care. At all. It's like trying to teach a pig to sing. Wastes your time and annoys the pig.
When he started his squawk thing I threatened to cut off his head numerous times. But then some peaceful easy feeling would float gingerly through my cranium and I'd let him slide. Although I did start wearing my wood cutting ear muffs. Yet even those did not totally drown out that ungodly noise.
I buried him up on the hill with our three cats, Tom, Joe and Sammie. I gave him that respect. I felt like squirting lighter fluid on him and dancing around the flames like a Chippewa, but it's fire season. I didn't want to burn down the neighborhood just to get my ya ya's out. Now if it was the middle of winter...
The flock actually seems to be flowing a little easier now that he's gone. Even they seem to feel less agitation. Or maybe it's just me. Nah. A couple of them were starting to peck at his dead head when I arrived on the scene. Respect for your rooster apparently only lasts a very short while after death in poultry culture. Or their memory only lasts about a second.
"Damn rooster. Wish he'd get off me."
"Oh look. Dinner!"
I wonder if those thoughts ever ran through the mind of one or two members of the Donner Party?
"Damn Henry. Wish he'd get off me. I'm so hungry."
"Oh yum, Henry's got some mighty tasty thighs."
It was quite a bit quieter around the old homestead for a while. I actually took a leak in the middle of the night and didn't even activate a rooster. That bird had some ears. I could go in the furthest bathroom, at least a hundred feet and several walls from his perch, not turn on a light and he would still hear me tinkling and crow.
He was also a pretty good "watch" rooster before we put up the gate. He'd always make an announcement when a vehicle arrived. He was usually quite protective of his flock and took quite an exception to the human male. He wasn't especially nice to women, but he was a rabid monster to men. Our son hated him.
How do I really feel about the rooster leaving the henhouse?
I think our son said it best in response to the text I sent informing the family of the rooster's demise, "Damn sorry. Fuck him though. LOL."
Well, the henhouse was without a rooster for about a week. I mean, we do have that Bruce Jenner or whatever the hell bird but he still hasn't come out of the closet. In the meantime, meet Gorgeous Bruce, the newest addition to the flock.
A friend with a large flock waaay out in the country took in this fabulous fellow from someone who could not harbor him. But he wasn't fitting in with a wild country flock and appeared to be a bit more domesticated. To the point where he would invite himself in the house whenever the opportunity arose. Fearing for the rooster's safety and not wanting a rooster pooping on his mantle, Bruce came home with me.
Bruce is a gorgeous, adolescent Rhode Island Red, and so far not a threat of any kind. As a matter of fact, he has been picked on by many of our hens, including the youngest. He was in the companion cage for a few days, but one morning flew that coop and then initially spent most of his time hiding out in the henhouse.
But he' slowly venturing out now, and I think the natural order of things will eventually fall into place. He's already established his morning vocal duty, a pretty clear "Cock a doodle do" has been greeting us at dawn for about a week.
My lovely twin sister-in-law had her best night's sleep here during a visit while we were cock-a-doodle-do-less. I fear that will be no more. There's a new rooster in the hen house.