Country Mouse City Mouse 4-19-10
We had no intention of keeping chickens in our backyard because we have neighbors, but it sort of just happened. My daughter, who is involved in a 4-H chicken project had, the previous year, lost her fancy poultry birds to a raccoon, the day before the county fair. As much as I wouldn’t kill a living creature personally, you have to admit that when you see the savage damage done to your livestock and your daughter in tears, rodenticide springs to mind.
The next year she asked, “Can we keep them in the basement until fair, Mom?”
Knowing that we probably shouldn’t have chickens in Denver, and “what would the neighbors say,” went quickly and then exited through my mind.
“Sure,” I said. I wanted to save her a repeat of the carnage she endured keeping them elsewhere. It was only a few months anyway. Right?
The little chicks were so cute! This was good – small, easy, and housed in a cardboard box. What the hay! And there they grew, right near the laundry, my workout machine and our pet turtles. Eventually they all needed cages.
Oh, and guess what? Four of the 10 chicks were roosters!
My early morning workouts that summer required that I first dust off my machine from the chicken dander, which never came off easily. Once I began, the roosters found the need to be my health fitness coaches finding the need to crow while I sweated and puffed.
One of those roosters never went to fair. He is a lacewing polish cock. Somehow on his growth journey, he damaged his foot. He hopped on one leg with the other curled inelegantly and useless underneath him. This rooster never crowed. Imagine that! So, he stayed. Who would take him anyway?
The hens came home with various ribbons and found a new hen house awaiting them. The garage. Against all rules of livestock, we gave them names. These were layers anyway. Mrs. Brown, Mrs. White (Japanese), Mrs. Day, Mrs. Night (Silkies) and Miss Pringle (lacewing polish). All these fancy ladies surrounding this pathetic, sad and silly looking rooster. He reminded us of that old playboy with the famous published magazine. So, the ridiculous rooster who became a charity case was christened Heff.
As I’m sure you readers are aware, Heff did start crowing. Why do roosters crow? Because they can and so he did. If he crowed incessantly I put him in the basement, gave him food to distract him, turned the radio on at night (so he wouldn’t hear noises), yelled at him, tossed stuff at him to get him to stop or picked him up and gave him a lecture. I walked the dog and could hear him blocks away and knew it was only a matter of time before he would have to go.
That was four years ago and Heff, bless his heart, continues to pogo stick around in luxury and the knowledge that our neighbors actually like hearing him. He brings fond memories to those who once had chickens as a kid and prefer him to an obnoxious dog barking.
Heff will be our last rooster in the city despite his amiable appeal as a memory maker. There are just some animals that don’t work in a city or a neighborhood. He’s done his job though; brought the country to the city and a few more city folks something to talk about while they get to know their neighbors.
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