Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Chicken-Style

Way back in Olden Times, (specifically, last winter) one of our little red hens got her toes seriously frost-bitten in one of the more bitter cold spells. Since the other chickens picked on her toes (both literally and figuratively) and were generally mean to her, we shifted her into the old chicken coop to recuperate. She had it all to herself, with a little yard of her own, fenced inside the main chicken yard. Once she got away from those vicious bitches the other hens, she seemed quite happy. Her toes healed, her feathers grew back. Life was good.
We took to calling her Little Miss No-Toes. (I once called her Stubby in Madman's presence. "Oh, don't call her that!" he said. "You'll hurt her feelings!")
Now, in the main chicken yard, there were the 15 other hens and 2 roosters. The big rooster literally ruled the roost. All the hens were his, all the food was his to dispense, the sky was his, the air was his.
The little rooster skulked around, trying to stay out of the King's view, sneaking up on the occasional hen when the Big Guy wasn't looking.
As Winter turned to Spring, I noticed that more and more often, when I got home from work, Little Miss No-Toes would be out in her little yard, and Little Rooster would be all alone in his. They seemed to be having one of those So-Near-and-Yet-So-Far courtships, with the chicken wire fence between them. They always seemed to be chatting, with through-the-eyelashes glances at each other. It seemed kind of sweet. "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?"
Then one day, we got home from work, and discovered that Little Rooster had burrowed under the fence to join his True Love in her little pen. We laughed, watching him strut around with his "flock" - he'd finally found a world where he could be the Big Guy.
We let them stay that way a few days, but eventually they both had to rejoin the main flock. We had other hens who needed the "Infirmary." A lot of them had lost a lot of feathers due to the attentions of the roosters - saddle feathers from the 'treading' and neck feathers from the grabbing-with-the-beak-to-hold-them-still.
So, one night we snuck Little Miss No-Toes and Little Rooster back into the main coop while everyone was sleeping. (Chickens are not terribly bright. If they wake up with new chickens sleeping next to them, they really have a hard time puzzling out whether they know those chickens or not. Seriously.) Since they'd been in adjoining pens, and not really out of each other's sight, we didn't anticipate any problems with reintegrating them with the main flock.
What we hadn't considered was Little Rooster's new attitude. He had him a flock. "I iz a Man!" He strutted. In front of the Big Rooster. In the Big Rooster's coop.
"Yo, Little Man," said the Big Rooster. "I don't think so..."
And he thumped the little guy. Soundly. Very soundly.
And in the following month, we finally noticed something that we should have noticed a long time ago. It wasn't the big rooster who had been damaging the hens, as we had thought. We realized that he is actually very gentle with the girls.
It was the Little Guy who was hurting them. He was always in such a hurry to 'get a little action' when the Big Guy wasn't looking, that he was pulling out feathers and being rather violent about the whole thing.
Little bastard.
We had him for supper. With gravy.


pacalaga said...

ROFL. I so didn't see that coming.

Anna M said...

Oh yeah, that soooo works!

Norma said...

Well, damn. He got his comeuppance, didn't he?!

quantumtea said...

Hilarious! Hope he was tasty!

Diane said...

I'm never going to be able to think of Romeo and Juliet in quite the same way again. There will always be feathers involved from now on.

Anonymous said...

Little man syndrome? Heh!

Cookie said...

Taught him a lesson!

Laurie said...

I suspected something like this, but got deflected along the way. Yo!

Anonymous said...

Yep. That's what happens to boys who are too rough. We eat them. With gravy.

Bobbie Wallace said...

HAHAHAHAHA! Loved the story! Reminds me when I was a kid when once our rooster was too old to "do his job" anymore; he went into the freezer. Really freaked out my younger sister when she saw the package marked "Charlie the Rooster"! Well, you need to know which one is the old tough one; you certainly don't want to fry him