Our long-term and now aging rooster, Freddie, is a good example. Being a rooster, he gets into scrapes from time to time as he will guard his hens with his life. But generally it is just a little barnyard scrap since our two Great Pyrenees, Salvador and Anna, keep the wild things at bay around here and Freddie, when it comes to dealing with we humans is the consummate gentleman, never coming after us. He's a good old boy in the best Southern tradition. This isn't always the case with roosters and we even had to put one down because he was much too aggressive. And Freddie is very good at his job, he always wakes up the farm at the right time with his unique style of crowing and he keeps tabs on his free-ranging flock, including nighttime roll call before they go off to their special hide-away for the night.
But one day a few months ago, I noticed something that concerned me, for Freddie began to have some problems with his balance and within a week he was having trouble walking. When he would run after his hens to get them in line, he would constantly fall and have trouble getting up. The problem got progressively worse and within days his cock-a-doodle-doo also grew weaker and just stopped. I noticed it was like he had an air leak that would not allow his natural organ pipes to play. So, Freddie was then almost immobile and silent and he would disappear for days at a time until returning to a spot outside the garage where I gave him water in a large bowl and scratch on an old plate beside it. And each time he disappeared I was afraid he wouldn't come back again. I think he heard what I was thinking for, as if on cue, one day that happened and I just figured he was either under the garage or under the porch where we could not see him and I would not be able to get him out. About ten days went by with no sign of him and we just figured he was gone. I realized how much I missed his musical chords in the morning and watching him march his hens to their quarters in the evening until one day I just finally gave up, figuring he was gone.
A couple of weeks went by and then one bright and brisk morning I was fixing a pot of coffee and thinking about my morning blog when I heard a strange noise outside. It sounded like a rooster, yet the crowing was very weak and sounded far away and I just figured I imagined it. But on the very next day, I heard it again and this went on for several day and each day it was a bit louder and stronger, but I still couldn't believe it was real. I did realize as I thought about it, however, that if Freddie had stayed near when he was sick, he would have generated quite a stench as his body degenerated and that never happened. Thinking about that, I decided I had to find the source of the crowing when I imagined it again and it came very soon early one morning. So, I went outside and when I heard it I just walked toward the sound slowly and back in a little wooded area behind the barn there stood Freddie. His crowing was stronger and he walked toward me slowly and his balance seemed to be returning. I got a bowl of water and scratch and he settled down to quench his thirst and feed his hunger and within a week he was almost as good as new. That was a few weeks ago and now, as I write this, I can peer out the window and see Freddie in the middle of the yard between the house and the barn as he oversees his girls while they pick bugs out of the wet grass. And it makes me smile.
So, what happened to Freddie? Well, he could have had some kind of neurological problem, but I doubt it since those symptoms are gone so I think he had a chicken virus, since that is common. We have routinely given them medication to ward those off, but perhaps its no more effective than the flu vaccine for us humans. And that makes me think that dear old Freddie resolved his issue the traditional way. He relied on his own natural immunity. After all, he knew he had to rest and he did so in a place so private we couldn't find him, yet he was always near. If you agree with me, then I think you might clearly see, the valuable lesson we can learn from the story and it is this. Sometimes just good old common sense is the best cure of all. I think I like that for a happy ending so I'll just stick with my hunch. And how about you? What do you think? As for me, I'll stick with Freddie's natural common sense and I wish more of us today would apply such a view to our own situation. More often than not, our best hunch serves us best.
SO, HERE'S TO FREDDIE, THE PRACTICAL ROOSTER WITH A GREAT WILL TO LIVE. And I hope we will have him with us for a long time to come because despite the times that he woke me up too early, I know I missed his presence while he was gone. Don't worry, Freddie, you are welcome here at this, your home, for as long as you live.