Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RSVP from a rooster

Lesson in this story: If you invite a rooster over, he might just take you up on it.

About a month ago, I was out for a walk with the chocolate lab named after a pie. We were about a half mile from the farm, when I noticed a rooster in the blackberry bramble on the side of the road. We were quite a ways from the surrounding farms that had chickens, and I doubted a rooster would wonder that far from his original flock. He was a beautiful Rhode Island Red, and in good shape. I continued on my walk, but my head swirled with rooster rescue thoughts. "I'll drive back over after my walk and entice him into a crate, " I thought. Oddly, when I had ordered our new chicks, I was torn about getting some Rhode Island Reds, but didn't want more than 10 chicks and stuck with my other picks.

Upon returning to the area where Huck and I had first made acquaintances with the gentleman rooster, I found him in the shaded bramble. I suggested he come over and eat some corn. "Oh, while corn is a delicacy, I don't think so, no, not right now, thank you. " he said politely, and he scurried off into thick bramble. "Suit yourself," I said irritated. "But I hope you make it though the night." Between dogs and coyotes, and log trucks, and other free wheelin' morons, I figured he'd be dead soon.

A week later, I rode Boone over that way, and there he was, alive as can be. He had moved a bit farther from the original spot, but was basically in the same area. He seemed happy to see us, as he flew out of bramble as we neared, and stood quietly in the road, looking head on at us. "Still on your own?" I asked. "Yes, yes, I am. Do you have any more of that corn?" he asked. "I'm afraid not. But if you get tired of bacheloring, you can always come over to our place." I said. I wisely didn't tell him exactly where we lived, but our farm was up the road about 3000 feet, and then down about 5000 feet.

As Boone and I rode off, I swear I heard that rooster say, "See ya' soon..." but it was probably my confusion with the other natural sounds whizzing around me - gravel, Boone's clip-clop, nearby trucks - so I shrugged it off as fantasy. "I did my best to help him, Boone. Rule one, I can't save everything." I could feel Boone smile - his lips turn slightly upward, which tweeks his bit ever so slightly, which tingles my fingers holding the reins.

Weeks passed...

Yesterday, I went for a nice ride with Boone. As we were nearing back to the old barn, I noticed a red chicken free ranging, and in my mind I thought, "My, Vivienne's feathers look long today.....Wait a minute...that's not a hen, .......that's...a rooster!" Once again, I felt Boone smile.

Later in the day, I found the newcomer in the Outdoor Daycare Chick Oasis...with Papa Roo and some hens. Hmmmm, no one was dead yet, no one was doing the Fancy Pants Dance, so...maybe life will settle in for everyone. I've named him Lyndon Baines, in honor of the old Looney Tunes cartoon character- the famous brash talking rooster that was supposedly modeled after President Johnson. I am hoping Lyndon will hang with the new flock of chicks, who some day will become his ladies. I've already explained the rules to him- and read him the story of Bad Ass, so he has been forewarned. While all the chicks, hens and Papa Roo were tucked away in their house for the night, Lyndon slept way up high in the old hay loft of the old barn. I have to admit, it was a photo op missed.

Part of me thought, "Oh geeze, another rooster, here we go again." But I must admit, I was somewhat honored he walked so far to be with us. I thought Martyn might groan to hear a new rooster had checked into Apifera, but he calmly said, "Maybe Lyndon is a gift from Ward." I thought awhile, and figured that's just something that Ward would do.