Friday, January 6, 2012

Rooster Pinata: The Best Sport in the World

For those of you who don’t know, I love chickens.  Seriously – they’re awesome.  I love them.  Read this post if you don’t believe me.

Okay, now that I’ve cleared my good name I can tell you about Evil.

Back when I was living in the Kern County area I used to board my horse at a little stables off the main highway.  The stalls were fantastic, the rent was incredibly cheap, and even though it was in a small town the stables themselves seemed to have less drama than most barns I’ve been at.  All in all it was a really great place.

The only downside to the barn was the location – as it was situated off of a main highway, most people could see it from the road.  I don’t know what your experience has been, but when normal, non-horsey people see a stables they don’t think, “Hey, look!  A stables!  I bet they keep horses there.  Neat.”

They seem to think, “Hey, look!  Horse Stables!  That’s where my latest unwanted puppy/cat/dog/kitten/chicken needs to be abandoned!”

I’m sure they mean well, even if what they're doing is incredibly selfish, lazy, and rather cruel.  They probably have this nice idea of their animal living a comfortable, happy lifestyle, surrounded by laughing people and sweet-smelling hay bales.  “The kittens are playful!  They can eat mice, and run around, and live a good life!  All barns need a cat, right?”

Look,I don't know about the rest of you, but we had a term for abandoned kittens at a horse barn.  We called them “Coyote Candy”. 

Maybe it was the area we lived in, but the animals which were constantly abandoned at our barn never really lived all that long.  It was a race against time, trying to find them homes before they were eaten.  Someone would drop off a litter of kittens.  By Tuesday, there would only be three little fluffballs.  On Friday there would only be one.  By Monday the barns would once again be cat-free, and someone would drop off an abandoned puppy.

Cats, kittens, puppies, chickens…. None of them seemed to last.  The coyotes in the area seemed to consider our barn their own personal buffet, and none of the abandoned animals seemed to live very long. 

That is, except for Evil.  Evil was a ratty, ragged, ill-tempered rooster.  He was a mottled red, had two or three drooping, pathetic tail feathers, and evil, beady little eyes.

I have no idea who dropped Evil off, but for all I know they knew all about our coyote issue and thought they were assigning Evil to a very deserved death.  To be honest, I wouldn't blame them.

From the day he arrived Evil took over the stables.  He went wherever he wanted to go.... and heaven help you if you tried to make him leave before he was ready.

He was fine as long as you approached him directly.  If you walked towards him he’d stand up and saunter off, bobbing slowly away.  He always managed to make it look like it was his idea, too.

What’s that?  Oh, I just felt like getting up and walking over here.  See how I’m not meeting your eye?  You’re not making me do this at all. I *want* to go over here.

Yeah, getting him to move away from your stall/barn/hay stack wasn’t a problem.

The problem was when you turned your back.

I still remember the first time I saw him.  “Oh, hey!  A rooster!  Someone dropped off some chickens.  Cool!”  I squatted down, waggling my fingers at him.  “Heeeeeere, chook,chook, chook.  Heeeeere, chook, chook, chook.”

Evil stared at me silently, ignoring my outstretched hand.

“Tcht, tcht…heeeeeere, chook, chook.”

“Bakwaaaaaaaaak….” Evil growled ominously, and sauntered off.

I stood up, dusting my pants in disappointment, then turned around to head back to Jubilee’s stall.

“BCKWAAAAAAK!”  With a triumphant scream of rage, Evil launched himself at my back in a furious scrabble of flapping wings, scratching legs, and pointy, stabby little pecks of his beak.

Naturally, I did what any sane person would do when ambushed by an evil, attacking rooster bent on world domination: 

I  dropped my car keys, screamed like a little girl, and bolted about 10 feet in the opposite direction before turning around to see what was after me.

Evil stood in a cloud of dust, glaring at me, then smugly scratched the ground twice before sauntering off.  He’d showed me. 

I stared at him, mouth agape.  Had I…. had I just been beaten up by a chicken?

Why, yes.  Yes I had.  And it wasn’t the last time, either.

If Evil had just come at me fairly, I would have shown him who was boss, and that would have been that.  The problem was that Evil was smart.  He knew his only hope lay in ambush, so he never attacked you face-to-face. 

He was oddly stealthy for a chicken, and would creep up on you silently while you were distracted.  One second I’d be calmly cleaning Jubilee’s stall, lulled into a peaceful state through the steady scooping and sifting of the clean shavings through the tines of the manure fork…

And the next second I’d have a giant rooster stabbing me with his claws, screaming his rage into my ear as he scrabbled and clawed at my back.

I’d scream and bolt every time, and every time I’d turn around and see that stupid chicken standing there, smugly eyeballing me before he sauntered out of the pen.

No matter how vigilant I remained, he always managed to wait until my guard was down before attacking.  He bothered other people at the stables, but for some reason he took a particular aversion to me.  I swear that rooster was hunting me. 

I hated that rooster.  I felt a little guilty, but to be honest, I couldn't wait for the coyotes to get him.
For once, the coyotes failed to do their job.  That stupid rooster refused to be eaten.  I think even the coyotes realized he was a little too evil for them to mess with.

Within a few weeks I was twitchy and spooky, jumping at the slightest noise and doing my best to look over my shoulder every thirty seconds.  It’s not like I didn’t try to fight back.  I remember the time he spooked me so hard I jumped into the barn wall, scraping my nose.  I completely lost it.   That was IT.  Love of chickens or not, I’d had enough.  Evil the rooster was going DOWN.

I flew out the front of the stall, manure fork carried over my head like an angry villager’s torch.  Evil tried sauntering away from me for a few steps, but once he realized I meant business he took off.  I don't know if you know this or not, but chickens are FAST when they want to be.

Unfortunately for evil roosters, so are Beckys.

That stupid rooster and I tore up one row of stalls and down the other in an eerie silence.  He didn’t make a single sound as he ran, and the only sound coming from me was a steady, determined breathing.

He fluttered through stalls, doubled back through the manure spreader, scurried over pipes, dashed through the round pen…. All with me hot on his heels. We were spooking every horse we went past, but I didn’t care.

I’m not sure how the situation would have resolved itself if the barn manager hadn’t come by to feed her horse.  She pulled in front of her stall just in time to see me round a corner, red-faced and sweaty, four steps behind that stupid rooster, manure fork cocked and loaded against my shoulder like a bat.

“Becky!  What are you doing?!”

“Killing him,” I huffed as I sprinted past her, spooking her horse.

It didn’t do to spook the barn manager’s horse.

“BECKY!  KNOCK IT OFF.  LEAVE THAT CHICKEN ALONE!”  For such a short woman, she had an impressively loud voice.

I slid to stop and watched angrily as Evil immediately slowed down to a saunter.  He wasn’t running away.  He was just out for an evening stroll... although for once I did catch him looking directly at me as he panted as heavily as I did. 

“I’m sick of that rooster, Diane.”

“Then leave it alone, Becky.”  An animal lover to her core, I could see that Diane wasn’t going to see my side of the equation. I was just an evil, chicken-chasing animal hater. She shook her head in disappointment.

“Fine,” I snapped, stalking back to my barn to fume.

Life continued along the same lines for a couple of weeks.  I did my best to ignore the idiot, evil rooster, hoping the coyotes would finally man up and do their job.  They didn't, and Evil continued to ambush and scare the living crap out of me every time he got a chance.

That is, until that one, beautiful, magical day.

I had just finished cleaning pens and was on my way to go dump the manure in the manure pile, when I saw him.  I know you probably won’t believe me, but the stupid rooster was sneaking around the corner of my barn so he could lay in wait and attack me the moment I walked past him to put my manure fork away.

Ha.  Gotcha, Evil.

I did my best to pretend I didn’t know he was there.  Casually, I dumped the load of manure and went to go replace the wheelbarrow in its spot by the barn.  Even more casually I turned to head back on my usual path to Jubilee's stall.

As I walked past the corner where he was hidden, I just happened to raise the manure fork and rest it on my shovel.  I wasn’t doing it on purpose… it was just a casual thing.  I had a manure fork.. why not rest it on my shoulder?  It had nothing to do with the fact I was getting ready to take a swing.  Nope.  I was Casual Becky.  I was Unaware Becky.  I was Victim Becky, just continuing along with my chores.  La, la, la, laaaa, laaa……

About three steps after I passed his hiding spot, I saw him make his move out of the corner of my eyes.  Head low and limp tail feathers spread, he rushed forward, preparing to leap for his attack.

Tightning my grip on the handle, I pivoted on my left foot, straightened my elbows and started a downhill golf swing with the manure fork, driving through with the force of my hips and the experience of too many mornings practicing at the driving range with my dad…

And I connected.

The second I felt the back of that manure fork connect with that idiotic, evil bird, I knew it was a good shot. 

THWAAAACK!!!!  The sound of that solid, square, perfectly on-target hit resonating through the evening air was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard.  I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt.  It was a cool drink on a really hot day.  It was the first taste of ice cream.  It was stepping into a Jacuzzi after getting chilled spending too many hours in the pool.  It was all those things… but better.

It was incredible.

“BAKWAAAAK!” Evil sounded genuinely surprised as the rush of his charge met with the swing of the manure fork. 

“BAKWAAAK!”  He complained.  “BAKWAAAAAAK!” He said, as he flew an incredibly satisfying distance, landing about 15 or 20 feet away in a disheveled heap in a cloud of dust.

“HA!” I shouted in my most mature, intelligent fashion.  “HA!  Take that, you stupid, evil rooster.  Who’s the man, now?  Huh?  Who’s the one who won that bout?  ME, that’s who!  What’s that?” 

I may or may not have stomped threateningly in his direction.

“What’s that?  You want some more of this?”  It’s possible I may have throw my arms wide at this point – not that I’d ever to admit to such childish, infantile behavior.

Evil stared me, and for a brief second it I saw a brief flash of respect, bordering on fear in his eyes.

I met his look, squaring my shoulders and facing him defiantly, trusty manure fork by my side.

“Bakwawk,” he muttered disdainfully, turning around to saunter off in the opposite direction.

He never attacked me again.



Blogger AareneX said...

Me, I use a broom.

Also, we don't have roosters. One of the neighbor's roosters came over for a visit, and was unceremoniously deported by my spouse before I even got home from work.

Too bad, really. "Rooster curling" could easily be the next big Olympic sport.

January 6, 2012 at 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was he a little rooster? Some breeds are worse than others that way. You would have loved my roo, Joe. (Go ahead and ask why his name was Joe! lol) He was sweet and cuddly. Even BP could handle him in broad daylight.

While we had a wonderful roo, I know we're do for a bad roo. And I want a roo, because yanno, that whole self-sufficiency thing? Well, that calls for a roo. So, I will select the same breed as Joe and hand raise him. We had a roo in our batch of feed store peeps (an accident, I'm sure) of the same breed that we were hand raising. He was turning out to be another sweet Dude. So, this theory must work with this particular breed. I'll let you know.

But Becky, when you come visit, no roo pinata, please? Thanks!

(I do know what you're talking about though. I had a similar issue with white turkeys. *shudder* Very, very similar and I wasn't allowed to defend myself from those jackwagons at the barn I worked at. You won't be finding white turkeys, tom or hen on our farm. No sirree!)

January 6, 2012 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Laura Crum said...

Becky--I had a rooster like that, too. He was a box-raised chicken, which is what tends to make them aggressive with people. A banty. I've got to admit, he was incredibly amusing, but I did realize my then toddler was saved from some very unhappy moments when a hawk got the scrappy rooster. Great post!

January 7, 2012 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger AareneX said...

oregonsunshine, I forgot about turkeys...and the hen turks can be nasty too! Years ago my then-landlords had a "free-range" hen turkey who decided that the top of my truck (roof over the cab) was the ideal spot for her to nest. I had to squirt a garden hose at her every morning so I could drive to work!

She blew away one night in a big windstorm, and I didn't cry.

January 7, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

Got a few stories about geese.

But I am so calling the PETA squad, you mean, mean woman.

I'm sure the poor thing was misunderstood. He just needed some therapy, a few anger management classes, someone who would sit down with a cup of joe and let him vent.

Becky, BeckyBecky, where is your compassion?

January 7, 2012 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Bif said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that.

I am happy you triumphed in the end.


Some animals take the "defenseless" out of the term "Poor, defenseless animal". Then, it's every man (woman, mammal, bird, whatever) for themselves.

January 7, 2012 at 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister has some laying hens, she loves chickens too, and decided she wanted to try raising some chicks the old fashioned way. She got a rooster, who attacked her husband's legs every time he was out in the yard. One day the BIL happened to have a hoe in his hands. You're right, they make good Pinatas. Stupid roosters, don't they know that no matter how mean and evil they are, they're still chickens? One good whack and their head goes flying. Must have something to do with testosterone.

January 8, 2012 at 5:08 AM  
Blogger Dom said...

It's so true! People love to dump animals at horse farms. Ugh.

Your Evil looks like our Trenton Chicken (who I now have to take pictures of). Turns out they're cockfighting roosters, which is probably why he was so aggressive.

I got attacked by a rooster as a kid. I hit him with a big stick and he did a back flip. Ahh, the memories.

January 8, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger my bad said...

Too funny! Ha

January 8, 2012 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Whywudyabreedit said...

Just a wee rant here... I have been looking at rescue cattle dogs a lot recently. So many people who need to get rid of their high energy dogs think that their dog should get to live on a farm. Seriously??? Do the math people, if every idiot who got in over their heads with a high drive high energy dog got to send it to a farm, every farmer would be responsible for running a massive pet sanctuary as a side business, and a money losing one at that. Why should this be the responsibility of farmers, who by the way already have plenty to do?

February 5, 2012 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Half Dozen Farm said...

We had a "stray" rooster show up at our little farm (he was probably dumped). He had the life of Riley. A nice, cozy coop, five ladies to keep him company, no other roos in sight.
My 6 year old daughter lovingly fed the chickens every morning. One morning, that roo flogged my 6 foot tall, 16 year old son. We laughed. The next morning, that roo flogged my 6 year old daughter while she was feeding him. She was terrified. The morning after that, that roo came to work with me in a little cage and at the end of the day he went home with a co-worker who had a hankerin' for rooster stew.
"Don't bite the hand that feeds you", or you might end up as stew! :)

March 7, 2012 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Half Dozen Farm said...

We had a "stray" rooster show up at our little farm (he was probably dumped). He had the life of Riley. A nice, cozy coop, five ladies to keep him company, no other roos in sight.
My 6 year old daughter lovingly fed the chickens every morning. One morning, that roo flogged my 6 foot tall, 16 year old son. We laughed. The next morning, that roo flogged my 6 year old daughter while she was feeding him. She was terrified. The morning after that, that roo came to work with me in a little cage and at the end of the day he went home with a co-worker who had a hankerin' for rooster stew.
"Don't bite the hand that feeds you", or you might end up as stew! :)

March 7, 2012 at 3:15 PM  

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