Ode to Our Rooster: Charles Chickens

An Ode To Charles Chickens

As a chick, you were the largest.
So big, and yet so small.
I chose you to sire our future flock,
To protect hens, one and all.

The first time I heard you crow,
It was the cutest little squawk.
You grew cocky (ha) in your mannerisms,
In your crow and in your walk.

We moved you to our hilltop
And assigned you to your duty.
You saved our hens from predators,
But toward us, you were psycho and snooty.

I fed and watered daily,
You attacked me without rest.
While gathering eggs from the coop,
You ambushed me at the nest.

I attempted to protect myself
With a shovel and a bat.
You didn’t care and still attacked,
So I had to lay you flat.

You drew blood from me two times,
From Hubs once, but even worse –
You attacked my little kiddos
So you learned the rooster curse.

You never saw it coming,
You died beneath the trees.
And then I thanked you for your service
While I put your meat to freeze.

Charles Chickens, Rooster esq. April 21, 2020 – June 21, 2021

Well, it happened.

I walked outside to check for eggs one final time for the day. The bat was not where I had left it by the back door, and there was not so much as a stick nearby for me to carry with me.

I scanned the property, looking for where Charles might be. Not seeing or hearing him, I made a break for the coop.

It was like he knew. Somehow a rooster knew I was unarmed, alone, and in flip flops. And while I was in the coop, he came out from hiding and tried to ambush me, aggressively. More than once.

I was able to keep him at bay, barely, while I called Hubs from my phone and asked him to come rescue me.

Hubs decided enough was enough, and that Charles would not be rejoining the flock that evening.

I had mixed emotions about it, but knew it had to happen. Charles had already been living on borrowed time, and after ambushing me in the coop, he was clearly too dangerous to have around any longer.

Charles was on to us and wouldn’t let us get close to him, so Hubs grabbed the .22 pistol and laid Charles to rest under the cedars of our wind row.

It was quite the retrieval process as I had to climb in, around, through, over, and under various branches of several trees to get to him. My arms were scratched up, I was smacked in the face more than once, and ended up with half a forest in my hair. Almost like Charles got the last laugh with the effort it was to retrieve him.

I was not anticipating, nor was I prepared for, processing a rooster at 6:00 on a Monday evening.

It ended up with me only saving the legs, thighs, and breasts, and disposing of the rest of the carcass. I would have loved to have had it for broth making, but with the sudden change of our evening plans, and having nothing set up, it only worked out to skin him enough to remove the meat.

In full transparency, I’m upset by it all.

I never wanted to raise a rooster to have it end like this. I wanted Charles to live out his days for years to come, taking care of our hens and being our homestead mascot.

Instead, he was our homestead terrorist.

It won’t be the same up here on the hilltop without him crowing. The two small roosters we got to replace him won’t be big enough to fulfill their duties as protectors until they’re several weeks older. I won’t even let them out of their special pen in the coop for another three to four weeks, probably.

So there’s a bit of a void here. And while I’m saddened by that, I’m relieved to know I don’t have to carry a bat or a shovel with me just to check the nesting boxes for eggs, or to give the chickens fresh water or food, or to check on the progress in the garden.

As is the case whenever I process an animal, I can’t eat meat for awhile. It’s even longer before I can eat the kind of meat I’ve been processing. Therefore, when it’s appropriate, I’ll put the slow cooker to use and make chicken enchiladas with homemade tortillas. It will be a little bit more of a painstaking meal to make, but I feel like it’s the most worthwhile, even honorable, way our first rooster can provide for us one last time.

I am genuinely broken up about this. I did not want this to be how the story ended, and I’m sad the story had to end at all. Clearly, though, he was not relenting, he was becoming more aggressive as time went on, and he would not have stopped.

He was a mean rooster, but a valiant one. Here’s hoping this isn’t a livestock trend we find oft repeated on our hilltop homestead.

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