A while ago we were dealing with a “rogue” rooster who had joined up with our flock and was trying to make something of himself. We did our best to find out where he belonged, but no one claimed him and he refused to leave, so we put off dealing with it.
Then, about a month after he showed up, I found him dead in the coop when I went to open it before work. There was no blood and no signs of a struggle, so we don’t know how he died.* Shrugging, we buried the body and went about our lives. Not like anyone in our house is going to miss him, and our head rooster was certainly happy.
Yesterday I ran over to our south neighbors’ house to deliver some fireworks Dad had picked up for them. We’re doing our best to build up our relationship with our neighbors. I know 70-odd years ago it would have been very unusual to not be familiar with our neighbors, but that relationship is not something we’ve ever bothered with; it’s not like we’ve often lived in a house for more than two years.
After we moved in, we spent several months feeling out the neighborhood. To the north are city folk who usher their children inside when Eli and Nina come out with bows and knives for target practice. We still don’t have any respect for them, and when they pulled out a bunch of stuff this spring for a yard sale we all prayed they were moving.
The south neighbors were a little more of a puzzle. They spend most weekends swaying around a bonfire, drinking beer and singing off-key to country songs; or spinning circles in their yard on fourwheelers and go-karts. But eventually we decided they were harmless (they always kept their fourwheelers within their property line, even when they were driving on an icy lawn), and they decided the same of us. They even tolerate our chickens making daily excursions into their yard, while we ignored the occasional duck that came into ours. They started giving us asparagus whenever they got extra from one of their buddies down the road.
Thus me and the fireworks: Dad wanted to respond in kind and keep this relationship on solid ground because it’s nice to know the people living around you can be relied on.
I handed over the fireworks and told them to have fun. As I was turning to go, one of their friends stepped forward and asked if we were the people who had a rooster show up a while back.
“Um, yes?” Great, I thought. This is who he belonged to. Hope he wasn’t fond of that stupid rooster. “But, uh, he…er, died, somehow. He refused to leave. We just found him dead in the coop.” The man didn’t say anything, so I rushed to explain. “I’m really sorry. There wasn’t any blood or anything. He just died and we don’t know how.”
Then he laughed. “Whelp, poor ol’ Hector!” he cried, slapping his knee.
Chuckling nervously, I backed away. “Sorry!” I said again while I watched his face.
He continued to laugh, so I assumed we were forgiven and beat a hasty retreat.
Now we’re all looking forward to a good show from next door. They usually buy plenty of fireworks for themselves. Add to this the fact that, from our house, we can see anywhere between 3 and 5 shows from neighboring cities and our Fourth is always pretty colorful. And loud.
*This happens on occasion with our flock. Sometimes I’ll walk in and find one of the hens curled up dead in a corner without a visible mark on them. We still dont’ know how or why this happens, because while we don’t pamper our chickens, we certainly don’t neglect them.