This afternoon Julia and I returned from a trip to the paint store and library to find some white rooster feathers and a bit of blood in our parking area. My stomach sank – the white feathers could only belong to one being – Russell Crowe the Rooster. Upon further inspection of the area, I found some more feathers across the road and through the field and couldn’t find Russell. That was it – Russell had to be gone. He was such a nice rooster – never mean nor nasty, always looking out for his girls, gentle with children and cats and me.
I gathered up my thoughts and sadness and got onto the job at hand today. This is the last day without rain for awhile and I did some spray painting of some old wicker furniture I am trying to revive. Mindless work like painting and knitting and crocheting always helps me sort out my feelings and thoughts. I thought about Russell and all my chickens – their lives are short and it isn’t very often that a chicken sticks out from the flock. But Russell did with his regal beauty and fancy, high-stepping walk. I suspected that a fox must have gotten him – I had left the dogs inside to enjoy their chick guarding project. I decided right then that they must be outside from now on all day to protect all the critters around here. They sleep outside at night and that seems to keep the coyotes away from the chickens. They also keep the deer away from the garden (mostly).
When you have farm animals, things happen to them. Monetarily, they aren’t very valuable. If you eat chicken, you know what a 3 lb. chicken is worth in dollars and cents. I try not to get too attached to the farm animals, nor do we name many of them. Our dogs and cats are the exception and once in a while, a rooster or a chicken, a lamb or a sheep. I think - in my mind - that if there isn’t a name associated with a particular animal, it won’t hurt as much when they pass on, go to slaughter or disappear. But it always does hurt, no matter if they are named or not. I still feel bad, sad, and a real sense of loss.
The Farmer came home a few minutes ago. I mentioned Russell. And then he confessed to me – it was him – he ran over Russell when he drove into the yard. Russell usually moved but this time he didn't. It certainly doesn’t make as good of a story as a Mama Fox feeding her babies. But that’s what happened. And I forgave him although Julia hasn't yet.
I know by writing about Russell, I have all of you invested in him. I thank you for contributing the names to the Rooster Naming Contest back in April. Writing about Russell has made even me more attached to him. I'm going to miss looking for him every day and talking to him. Russell had a good long life for a rooster and it was only a matter of time. Most male chickens are fed in factory farms and slaughtered for food at 8 weeks of age. Russell was one of the lucky fellows. He was five years old, I'm guessing, and spent his days looking at the hills, protecting his hens, residing in my mudroom, eating worms and greens and waking us up at dawn. He had more than a good life - he had a fabulous life. At any rate, I’ll miss writing about him and trying to get a good shot of him pecking around with his ladies.
We’ll all miss you Russell.