Danny Boy, strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage.
A year ago I went to set loose a bantam black frizzle rooster that had a habit of launching into my son like a feathered football, talons blazing. As I pulled off the road and opened the truck door, ready to release, a figure emerged from the woods. I quickly pulled my anxious cockerel back into the cab, and the figure did the same. Turns out it was my marathon-running neighbor who’d stopped for a pee break. We were both rattled when caught in flagrante with our boys out.
The truth is, I just can’t take the crowing. It cuts right through my brain like some avian scalpel. Roosters are eye candy, to be sure, but also a sonic ear-sore. This is where my hard-wired urban DNA falters, where I’d rather hear a garbage truck at 4:00 a.m. than a rooster crow. Try as I might, I’m just not 4-H enough (I don’t think yelling “shut the H up” repeatedly counts).
A friend with goats and chickens and horses usually pulls me aside when we have dinner at his place and proudly lets me know – out of his children’s earshot – that we’re devouring one of his hapless bucks or chickens he’d just butchered (I always check to make sure the horses are accounted for). He has his farm-to-table merit badge for meat, which I secretly envy.
Quince in flower in the orchard. We’ll settle for beauty in bloom, not blood.
Even among small farm foodies, there’s a hierarchy: Heirloom seed savers vs. seed buyers, double diggers vs. topsoil tillers, preservers vs. seasonal eaters, animal butchers vs. coddlers, goat milk teat squeezers vs. the rest of us. Everyone has his own sustainability threshold.
The orchard hens are grateful for my aversion to the on-site abattoir, and maybe even for Danny’s departure. Perhaps the loss a preening, crowing Lothario is a relief. No more being taken by the scruff every morning and subjected to the tremor and spasm of an oversexed male. They seem to be carrying on fine without him, and since I don’t speak chicken, their pining would be lost on me. The henhouse flutters forth, with all inhabitants content to putter and scratch in the dirt, just like me. – Mb