Steve and Tux both crow from inside the chicken coup as I open the gate. I stop and sneeze my head off. Then I open the coop, and Steve is the first one out. He flaps his wings as he winds up, stretches his four-month-old neck high and crows. The effort is like blowing up a balloon, or playing a bagpipe, or, I think, sneezing.
Our son is feeling much better after a week of congestion and hacking, the Bearded One is sick now, and I am fighting the bug with vitamins and chicken soup. When our next door neighbor kids — 7-year-old Hansel, 5-year-old Gretel, and 3-year-old Batman and their parents — come over on Christmas day to deliver gifts, we warn them about our colds and cover our mouths.
And we warn them about Steve and Tux. The rooster crowings. We implore them to tell us immediately if they ever hear the roosters at night. We think that being shut into the pitch-black coop will keep them quiet. We do not plan to keep them here a lot longer, but they’ll still be here awhile.
Not everyone feels giddy joy when they hear a rooster crow. Even out here in the sticks, neighbors can get crosswise over rooster noise, and we are determined not to let that happen here. Our chicken coop, out of sight near a back corner of the property is, nonetheless, about 50 or 60 yards from these same 3 children’s house, and they say they’ve never heard a peep. So far.
Gretel gives us a plate of fudge she helped make. Batman slaps a card he was in charge of carrying down onto the nearest table and says his Christmas was “ONE HUNDRED GOOD!” Hansel plays with the foot massager, which he does every time he comes over, and we adults talk while the Bearded One plays with the kids.
I tell of a neighbor down the road who is moving because of rooster noise. It’s sad. Mustn’t happen here, I say.
The Bearded One says that Momma Goose across the road has a gorgeous rooster she needs to be shed of — it’s rainbow-colored and so big you could ride it like a Shetland pony — but we aren’t in the market.
We can have eggs without a rooster. Soon, I say, this spring, we’ll have eggs to share.
Roosters are for fertilizing eggs if you want to raise chicks, but even then, you don’t have to own one. We’ll either buy fertilized eggs and hatch them, or buy hatchlings when we want to raise meat birds. Some people even borrow roosters for a few days. Roosters don’t have to rip neighbors apart.
I remember our oldest daughter telling us about an Asian friend’s grandmother swearing by the medicinal qualities of rooster broth. Not just chicken broth, but the rich broth from a long-boiled rooster. Hmmm…
Maybe there is another path for Steve and Tux, rather than the auction. Perhaps a healing broth, when the time comes. We can send some to our neighbors. They’ll have probably caught this crud by then.