I really wasn't "in" to her hobby, but I did become attached to one special fellow, a beautiful white bantam rooster we named Reginald. His comb was magnificent and he knew it, strutting his stuff proudly for all to see. There really wasn't much special about the other roosters although now we have added a very large but gentle fellow we named Horatio who is also a special barnyard friend.
Several years ago Reginald had to prove his worth. Several other roosters, Ariconas, were raised on the farm and as they got larger, dwarfing Reginald, they didn't appear to be very fond of him. I'm sure it was because they were jealous of that special red comb. Generally they ignored him but over time they started to show aggression which came to a head with a battle over who was the King of the hen house.
I was working in the yard when I heard Reginald shriek. I ran over to the coop and found that he had a slight tear in his comb which was bleeding profusely. It wasn't serious, just in one of those places where the blood flows freely but not for long.
Reginald shook his head a few times, and then looked at the Ariconas with a fearless stare and as he started up the ramp to the hen quarters, the bigger bird jumped toward him with his spurs extended. Much to my surprise, Reginald ducked under the attempted strike and then jumped on his opponent's back, sinking his spurs into his side. Attempts to throw Reginald off by rolling didn't work and finally he just gave in. Reginald released his grip, looked sternly at the Aricona and walked up the ramp with a cocky gait. In just those few second the little rooster had proved his mettle and the bigger boys decided they didn't want to pursue the issue further.
Shortly thereafter we found a different home for the aggressive and now frustrated roosters. The one rule my wife enforces for all of our animal friends is if you don't get along you don't get to stay.
So now Reginald was the heir to fatherhood for the flock, yet for several years none of the eggs were fertile. We had caught him in the act several times, but over time we just figured out that he was sterile. Recently we would find out to our surprise just how wrong we were.
Over the last few weeks Reginald began to really slow down and showed signs of a balance problem. His distinctive crows were less frequent and not as strong and he just wasn't walking around with that trademark "proud of himself" gait. But several days ago we found two baby chicks in the incubator, hatched from eggs from one of Reginald's ladies. Maybe he was just a late bloomer but here were two offspring to carry on his genetics. And we still have several more in the incubator that might very well hatch soon.
This morning my wife found Reginald dead in the coop. There was no sign of a struggle or any violence, it just appeared as if he had died of natural causes. And while I'll miss this spunky little rooster with the special comb and zest for life, I am extremely happy that we have a couple of his little chicks to carry on his tradition. Only time will tell if either becomes a rooster.
So tomorrow, with Father's Day is happening everywhere including here in the barnyard, we will celebrate a very special Papa Rooster who finally left his mark before he left this world. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; that's just the way things are but as for Reginald, he'll always be remembered and he'll live on in his baby chicks. And I guess going forward Horatio will be the ruler of the roost.
Happy Father's Day to proud fathers everywhere. I hope those you love are good to you today.
Like this story? Then you'll like my book: Honey We Shoulda' Bought the Ark, available through the following web sites: www.outskirtspress.com/honeyweshouldaboughttheark or www.amazon.com/author/jamesdick. Animals: A Wonderful Gift from God