Thursday, February 16, 2012


            Pablo was one hot rooster with a big red comb and an array of black and yellow festooned plumage that would stagger the imagination, never mind the job it did on a flock of very exquisite hens.  He’d walk around that yard inspecting the business at hand and despite the fact he was small.., there wasn’t an animal in the neighborhood ready to challenge him.
            Number ONE hen was a lovely Aracauna by the name of Miranda that I had bought from a woman at a garage sale in lieu of a couch.  She was a little too white for show stock, but nonetheless, produced her share of eggs and ran the hen house.  Her Master at Arms was a huge Rhode Island Red named Hanna, who seemed to mete out punishment to the rest of the pecking order according to some secret code passed down from Miranda, usually consisting of a sharp peck in the back of the neck.  Hanna came from a feed store when she was three months old.
            Now Pablo’s story is a little more complicated.  I had been buying feed from a woman up the way for about six months when I saw three roosters walking down the middle of the highway.  I asked her who owned those roosters, and she said she didn’t know.  She was more inclined toward horses, but she did agree to ask around.  About a week later, she flagged me down and took me around back where two of the aforementioned roosters were caged.  It seems that they and a third party had roosted in a pine tree during a rain storm and proceeded to crow half the night, driving the woman up the way half nuts, whereupon, she climbed up the tree in the middle of the night in her nightgown and grabbed two of them and turned them over to the grain lady, who now offered them to me, but only on the condition I take two.
            I didn’t want two roosters, but I took them home and put them in separate cages so as to not to start a war in the hen house.  I named one Pablo and the other Lopez.  Pablo was pretty magnificent already, while Lopez leaned a little to the grunty side.  My plan was to find out, which one crowed the best.  So that night, I set the alarm and got up just before dawn; not that roosters have any qualms about crowing at night.  A set of headlights a mile away will set them off.  And I stood outside the cages and waited until light came and it was not contest.  Pablo won.  That afternoon, I put Lopez in the van and we drove around the country-side until I saw a large flock of chickens on the other side of a very green field.  I helped Lopez for a moment; then popped him through the fence wishing him well, but letting him know, he was in fact on this own.
            So Pablo became my pride and joy, a great crowing bird I could hear for miles.  He took care of the yard and the hens and established the pecking order when Miranda was busy.  If a new hen showed up, which was my doing, in that I was forever bringing more home, Pablo would check her out and then wander off as if he didn’t care, much like some men I’ve known.  Once things had calmed down and Miranda put in her two cents worth, and just about the time you’d think all was well, old Pablo, who had  been lurking on the other side of the lot would suddenly tear across the field and take care of Rooster Business before the new hen knew what hit her.  Then he’d shake himself and smooth out his stride as he wandered off like nothing happened.
            For the most part, Miranda took it all with a grain of salt, unless it was setting time, or just time to put the yard in order.  Then somehow, by some signal I never caught, Pablo saw to it that there was no monkey business; that everyone was accounted for, and that nothing or nobody would get near Miranda while she sat on her eggs.
            Hens and roosters came and went.  There were chickens of all sizes and persuasions and later Muscovey ducks, which bred at night.  And through it all, Pablo held court.  He’d hop up on the porch when we had company and I would point out the terror of his great spurs while guests petted with caution.  
He’d sound warning for all enemies of chickens and humans; a long high squawk that it reminded me of a car braking.  Wary of children, he’d circle them widely, but out of some strange deference, never attacked, although we worried he might.
            The cats never bothered the chickens and for the most part, we were able to keep all the birds out of the birds out of the vegetable garden.  In summer, they’d lollygag, dust themselves, and give us the good eggs daily.  I could tell by the tint, which egg belonged to which hen.  In winter, the cold rain kept them inside for the most part, where they’d dawdle and scratch in the fresh dry. Come spring, we’d start over again, and it was always a pleasure to sit on the side porch and watch them carry on. What a wonder, how they acted very much like humans, maintaining their little community with whatever seemed necessary at the moment, but with much less long range planning.  I always thought it funny, how Pablo did the strutting, while Miranda seemed to make things happen.
            A few years went by and Pablo got old.  A new rooster took his place.  Not a great rooster, but a bigger one, three years younger.  Pablo fell from grace and had to be removed from the flock and in a short time, he went to Rooster Heaven.  Fortunately, I took a picture of him out in the yard during the good times.  I had it blown-up.  What a bird he was, standing out there. 



At February 16, 2012 at 1:44 PM , Blogger aturtlespeaks said...

I think I am in love with Pablo.


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