Two days ago my sister and I went for a run. It was directly after a rain storm, so everything was saturated in color. We ran along the wide river that traces the bottom of the valley we call home. The sun was casting a gorgeous reflection on the water, and the air was cool after the downpour. It was just perfect.
After I got home I walked over to the chicken run to let them out (I had locked them up in anticipation of strong winds and lightning). I swung open the door, as usual, and began walking towards the house when Edith ran towards me. He has acted aggressive before, so this wasn’t all that unusual, but this time he didn’t stop. He flew up at me with his claws outstretched so I brought up my sneaker to deflect him. He pecked me through the fabric of the sneaker, landed, and flew up at me again, this time pecking my shin. He repeated this several times.
Eventually I ran away, already covered in bruises, scratches, and peck marks. I can’t describe how traumatizing, how upsetting, it is to have an animal you raised attack you. I felt like I had screwed up some how. What happened to him? A month ago he was sleeping on my lap while I pet his feathers. Now he is attacking me like I am a dangerous predator. He won’t even go near me anymore.
I guess it’s just the rooster hormones coursing through him.
Anyways, what I wanted to tell you is that night I put an ad for him on CraigsList. This morning a guy named Brian called my father in response. Apparently he has a farm with fifteen hens, and wants a rooster to fertilize the eggs so they can hatch out chicks. I should be overjoyed. I know my parents are. But I just feel gross and sleazy, like I have given up on an animal that (up until this month) has shown me nothing but respect.
I keep thinking about all the time we’ve had together. In the winter, when his comb was frozen and he was shaking in pain, how I just held him in my arms and he calmed down. How I fed him food by hand when he was weak, and coaxed him to drink warm water. How I nursed him back to health again. The person I’m giving him to won’t spend that kind of time trying to help him. He has the heart of a farmer, something I wish I had, but sadly lack.
But then I walk outside and see the small pen we have him in, I see my hen’s featherless and raw backs from the over-mating. He needs more space, more hens.
I’m sure most of you don’t really “get” my sadness over this silly bird, a chicken no less. I know I sound overly dramatic, but it is really hard for an animal lover like me to do something like this. To entrust one of my pets to someone that I know will not take care of him in the same way I do.
Ugh, I hate this part of chicken-keeping.
Oh Edith, I’ll miss your crowing.