LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Last Saturday morning, right at the crack of dawn, I first thought that I was dreaming because I would have sworn that roosters were crowing and that they were under the window on my front porch. And then I thought I was dreaming when I heard Loretta yelling, “Shoooo, shoooo, shooooo! Get out of here!” And she was using a broom handle to beat on the side of a five gallon bucket to make a racket as she screamed at the chickens and tried to scare them away.
As dreams go, this one was not particularly alarming. To the contrary, I found it rather amusing and I commenced laughing until I felt a violent shaking of my shoulders and gouging in my ribs so I opened my eyes to find my wife, in her night gown, red-faced and lividly screaming at me to wake up and get my behind out of bed and do something!
Actually, Loretta used the three-letter version of ‘behind’ but I understand that my column is now required reading by sixth graders somewhere in Harlan County. In the meantime, I have stopped cussing in the column because, heaven knows, I would never encourage innocent children to say a bad word that might get them sent to the principal’s office.
Anyway, back to the wake-up call wherein my wife was demanding to know where I kept my firecrackers hidden. I suddenly envisioned her lighting a fire cracker, tossing it on the lawn and watching a rooster run up to grab it, whereupon its beak would be blown off. I guarantee that would be one chicken that shut up in a hurry.
Of course, I resumed laughing as the roosters continued to crow as fast as they could catch their breath. And, to give Loretta credit, it did sound like a sizable flock of roosters and they were, in fact, crowing loud enough to wake the dead. Our cat was sitting at the foot of the bed hissing with her tailed raised and every hair on her back stuck straight up and every dog in the neighborhood, including ours, was barking and growling like they were ready for a major fight. I doubt that anybody on Lowell Branch was sleeping through the uproar and I suspect that most of them were as highly irritated as Loretta.
I grumbled, crawled out of bed and stumbled to the foyer to find Loretta going through cabinet drawers in the stairwell searching for firecrackers. I grabbed a pack and walked out on the porch to find two little feather legged/feather footed roosters, too big to called bantams but too small to be considered serious chickens, crowing at the top of their lungs as though they were trying to outdo each other. Only two of them were making all that clamor and I immediately began thinking blue ribbon at the 2013 State Fair crowing contest.
I lit the fuse and tossed the pack of crackers within two feet or less of the birds. It sounded like machine gun fire for a few seconds. Big sparks flew and smoke billowed. The dogs hushed as though they’d been turned off with the flip of a switch. The roosters skittered about five feet away from the smoke, cocked their heads sideways and appeared to be curious for a few moments before resuming their ritual. Our cat is still missing. She’ll probably figure out a way to untangle herself from the box springs when she gets hungry enough.
Loretta’s mouth dropped open and I could see whites completely circling her eyes. That may have been the first time in my life that I have ever seen her rendered completely speechless. By 9 a.m., she had called all our neighbors up and down the road only to find that nobody was missing any chickens. So they wandered about the yard and garden all day and that evening she pointed out to me they had “gone to roost” under the big forsythia jungle in our front yard.
I told her that would fix them. I honestly figured a possum, fox or a pack of coyotes would dine on them before the night was over. But that was four days ago and Loretta has been highly annoyed before 6 a.m. every morning.
Last night I glanced over to check out her bed-time reading and she had one of those tree-hugger, homesteading, how-to books open to the chapter that deals with slaughtering fowl. Tonight I fully expect her to be looking up recipes for chicken and dumplings.
If you are missing two roosters with “grand champion ribbon” written all over them, you’d better get to Charlie Brown Road in a hurry while there’s still time to save them.