Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The rooster named Ethel!

We had Ethel years ago....and were not sad to see her/him go. But the story has been requested and so I'll tell it as best as I remember it.....

It all starts with the nature of chickens.  When starting a new clutch of chicks there are occasionally some stumbling blocks.  We mail order our chicks most often and with this group we'd ordered mostly hens and one rooster.  When we picked them up at the post office and got them home it was clear one of our hens was damaged in shipping....she had a broken leg.

She quickly fell behind the others in growth because she was unable to fight her way to the feed as well with the broken leg.  This introduced another aspect of a group of chickens (especially hens)...the "pecking order."   With hens, this is very literal.  And the bigger hens were pecking the gimpy hen to death....literally.  Now, I may be weird (well, I am weird but this may add to it) but I love my chickens.  And I didn't like this little chickie getting pecked to death.  It is a horrible form of bullying and we have zero tolerance for bullying around here - whether man or fowl.  So we brought her in the house and got her back on track.  She lived in a rubbermaid in my living room.  Her name was Gladys.  She grew well and thrived while being babied in the house.

This is where Ethel comes into the story.  See, a classroom somewhere had incubated eggs as an end of the year project or something.  I'm not really sure of the details of this part of the story.  But apparently only one chick hatched and survived.  They were just going to let it die after school was out since chickens do not fly solo.  My dad heard about this little chick and said we were raising a small chicken in our living room and we would take it.  (Ethel was behind the stage of most of the others and was therefore small and the bullying would have just ensued again had we put her/him out with them).  So, we added the little chickie to our rubbermaid and dubbed this hen Ethel.  Gladys and Ethel were good buddies.  They got along great.

Then, it became clear that Ethel was a rooster.  Well, shoot.  Another aspect of chicken raising is that ONE rooster is really enough for a small flock such as we have.  And we already had a rooster.  He was big, brawny and manly.  If he had a name it would have been Gaston, or Rocky, or the Hulk.  And Ethel was, well, Ethel.  He was everything you'd expect a rooster named Ethel to be.  Small, not much crow, and utterly defiant.  You've heard of cock fights....we had them.  Except Ethel was just not up to scruff.  It was awful.  I was ready to wring his neck myself just to put him out of his misery.  Except that he and Gladys were still good buddies and kinda hung out together (except when he was trying to defend his manliness) so we waited to see what would happen.

It didn't take long for Ethel to change his tactics.  He could not beat big, manly, Rocky rooster so he turned his tails and starting attacking ME!  I would go out to hang clothes on the line and Ethel would chase me.  We would go to the van and Ethel would chase me.  I didn't always run.  I mean he was just a puny rooster after all....but when he took me by surprise or I was carrying a kid (which is often), I ran for the house (FROM a chicken!!!!)  Well, that was that.  Ethel was going to meet his maker...by my hand or someone else's-- I sure didn't care.  I was not going to be chased by a chicken (more than once or twice-oh the shame!).  Plus I was afraid that he would get one of the boys.  They weren't big enough to outrun him or kick him across the yard if they needed to.

At the very last moment some friends of ours discovered our dilemma and said they were without a rooster and would take him.  Because they don't free-range (and have no children), they weren't concerned about his "little rooster named Ethel" complex.  So they came and got him and that was all she wrote.  Apparently, he did very well there without a big, manly rooster with which to compete.  And he lived happily ever after!

.....And we have never had a rooster since.  :)

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