• Last modified 168 days ago (Dec. 13, 2023)


Another Day in the Country

Drama in Ramona

© Another Day in the Country

Jess came charging into my house.

“Your rooster is out,” she said, “He was roosting on the back of one of your rockers on the front porch.”

She was back out the door before I ever made it out of the kitchen.

By the time I was in the yard, I saw Sir Reginald running across the street, pacing a sheep fence.

I wondered whether he could make it through the wiring. If he went in that direction at sundown, he probably was a goner. In that direction are big trees, a creek, and dense undercover where foxes love to lurk.

We gave up trying to coax him back across the street in the dark.

I left the garage door open just in case he needed shelter in a hurry. Jess opened the chicken coop door in my back yard and shut the ducks into their pen. They rarely go into the house at night anyway, so they will be fine. And Reggie might just come back to his childhood coop for the night.

I went over to the big hen house in the dark and shined my flashlight around the roosts, counting 13 wide-eyed, wondering hens tucked in securely for the night.

“Yes, there’s a hen missing. Can’t tell which one for sure,” I reported back to Jess. “But it’s probably the same one that flew out of this eight-foot fence the other day, and I bet he went after her.”

Giving Sir Reginald, the great savior of his flock, such high motives reminded me of a story I teethed on as a child. It’s the story of the Shepherd (capital S) missing one lamb at night (which in the story could be you) and going out to search for that one lost sheep. You probably know the story.

Now I impute similar motives to Reginald (capital R) the rooster, and my heart warms at the thought of that higher inspiration — the brave rooster missing one of his flock, risking his life to rescue her and bring her to safety.

Sir Reginald is one of the best roosters that I’ve ever had. He is kind to the hens. He calls them to morsels of food — not eating it himself — and watches after them.

His pet peeve is hens that don’t come into the house at sundown. If I’ve let the young hens out into the yard for a bit and time comes for them to go in for the night, he’s furious if they refuse to comply.

One late evening, Jess and I both were out trying to get those silly young girls in. This one hen — I think my grandson named her Cinnamon — refused to go in.

Reggie had gone in with the other hens, but she dodged back in the dusk to a patch of flowers where she’d been scratching for goodies. Sir Reginald came out of the house, ran over to her, grabbed her by the back of the neck, and held her head to the ground.

Jess wondered whether he was going to hurt her.

This was no mating ritual. It was dominance. He held her head down, standing beside her until she got the drift. When he turned her loose, she ran into the open chicken house door with her boss at her heels. Then he turned to us in triumph, as if saying, “I know how to get things done.”

We bowed to his expertise.

Last night, I went to bed with a heavy heart — two lost chickens.

I thought for sure the errant hen was a goner, and now what would happen to Reggie? I shut the garage door and went to bed.

I hated to get out of bed this morning, but I thought I heard a rooster crowing.

By the time I went out the back door, all was quiet.

I checked the coop behind my house — no Reggie. I scanned the yard — no feathers. I checked the fenced-in field across the street — no feathers flying in the breeze, no startling white rooster with black trimmings in sight.

And then I heard a familiar crow. Could that be Reggie, or was it David’s crew across the street?

There it came again, “RRRrrr-r-r-rrrr.’

That rooster was in the garage. What a smart dude. I opened the garage and walked across the road toward the big hen house, hoping he would follow.

He didn’t. He still was searching for Cinnamon, who I was sure was a goner.

When I got to the hen house door, there she was, pacing, trying to see an opening in the chain link fence.

Silly hen! She can fly out but not back in.

“So, you flew the coop?” I said to her in greeting, “Let’s see if we can get you back in via the door.”

She went in.

Being provoked by long-term resident hens evidently just gets too much for her and she rebels.

It’s no fun being the new kid on the block, the outsider, the stranger with no roots — all this being a powerful motivation to fly higher than she thought possible.

“The last hen that insisted on flying over this fence thought it was a lark,” I said to Cinnamon. “But she is no more. She got eaten by the fox on one of her excursions, so let this be a lesson.” 

Stories often are lessons, aren’t they? Now, our lost lamb is safe, and the shepherd is still out there hunting.

Will he ever get word, realize she’s home safe, and quit looking? Will I get him back in the fold?

I’ll keep trying, coaxing, watching, calling. Wish me luck. That’s life on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 13, 2023