Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Rooster's Life

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.

14 comments:

Knitlee said...

Oh no, poor Russell. In addition to all of those wonderful things you listed about his life, he also had women from all over coming up with names for him, reaching out across this world wide web-to "talk" about him. How many roosters can say that? His life reached out beyond your farm and he strutted his way into all of our hearts...thanks Russell.

Kate G. said...

This must have been a hard post to write. Between the black lamb disappearing, the ill-timed rains, the kittens leaving for new homes, and now the web's favorite rooster leaving the scene, it has been quite a month. You all be gentle with yourselves. I prescribe lots of hugs and extra pie tonight!

KnitNana said...

(sigh)
I know all you have written about this being the life of a farm and such is true.

But he was extra special. Thanks for sharing Russell Crowe with us! he'll be missed...
(((((hugs)))))

Anonymous said...

This is just too sad! Russell was a most beautiful, and wonderful rooster! And being that I'm a HUGE Russell Crowe fan makes his untimely demise even more painful, and shocking! Be strong!

Suzanne said...

That is so sad. He did live a good life.

PG said...

Ah, poor Russell, but you are so right - those five years were full of freedom and doing what roosters do best, and even if the end was a little ignomous, it was certainly mercifully swift. May he be scratching dirt in chicken Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because they saw Mark driving closer!!!!!!

Maymomvt said...

That is a sad, but funny story. We have a Northern Goshawk picking off my neighbor's chickens one by one...in broad daylight.

turtlewoman said...

I am so sorry to hear about Russell. The Farmer must have felt just terrible when it happened.

kelleyhart said...

Oh, how sad. I am a sissy when it comes to loosing animal friends. Thank you for sharing Russell with us. My dad grew up on a farm and relays the same kinds of stories as you do, yet he is still very sensitive. Sending love, and hugs.

tofog41 said...

Russell Crowe was certainly a handsome rooster. And I've seen a few birds in my time. I've got a cat named after Russell Crowe (the actor); his name is Bear Crowe. Bear Crowe will be five in September. He's very handsome, too, and quite a character, and rules the house like it's his very own. He was found in a trash can when he was two weeks old, brought to my vet's and I adopted him when he was only 5 weeks old. He was so wild when I brought him home, I set him down on the floor and he went straight for my face! But that was the "Bear" in him. The "Crowe" in him is the very loving part, the kisses and cuddling.

So I know what it means to become attached to a "Crowe," to lose your heart to one. Or two, including the actor.

bernie said...

Oh, that's so sad! Russell was such a beautiful rooster--thanks for letting us see a bit of his life---and for letting us name him. Farmer is probably feeling pretty sad about it too. My dad kept hens and a couple roosters when we were little but they were plenty mean! I remember a huge Rhode Island Red who would charge us....eeek! At least there are good memories of R.Crowe.

Michele in Maine said...

I'm so sorry. Please give Julia extra hugs for us!

Kathy said...

OHHHHHH. I was attatched to Russell Crow TOO! Farmer must have felt bad. Sorry Kristin. I'll name the next one for nothing!