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Irons in the fire: Chicken Little rooster

Published on 31 March 2020

I opened one eye and rolled my head to one side so I could get a glimpse of the bright red digital numbers silently screaming at me from the clock on the nightstand. 2:37 a.m., it read. Somehow, I’ve never needed an alarm to prod me from my intermittent periods of fitful slumber during calving season.

The internal clock in my head, powered by equal parts angst, adrenaline, hope and habit, has always been more than adequate to routinely roust me from whatever sleep I may find. I gracefully stumbled out of the darkness of the bedroom and over to the chair in the living room where I stash my clothes. In need of a little light, I switched on the small table lamp and instinctively flipped on the porch light.

As I stepped into my Wranglers – one leg at a time, mind you – the ruckus started. It wasn’t a terrible ruckus, but it was a ruckus nonetheless, made all the more cacophonous by the early morning hour. You see, we’ve got more than a little hillbilly going on at our place, so an obnoxious and amorous rooster and the two escaped hens roost every night in the tree just outside the back door. The glow from the porch light apparently summoned the innate and powerful sense of duty imbedded deep within the stupid rooster’s consciousness. He immediately snapped to attention and robustly lit into one of the only two activities he’s capable of performing (the other being hen harassment). He started crowing, and not just a little. It was energetic, and it was incessant.

I didn’t really care. I was already up. But the dumb cluck seemed to upset the whole balance of the universe with his brouhaha. The neighbor’s rooster, over half a mile to the east and apparently not wanting to be outdone by an unknown rival, started in with a crowing ballad of his own. This, in turn, lit a fire under the chorus line of border collies and shags residing at the other neighbor’s place, half a mile to the north – which, of course, set all three of my dogs into motion (vocally speaking). It was a choir of critters and, despite the hour, I, in my state of semialert grogginess, was mostly amused by it. It wasn’t quite so amusing for the next three-and-a-half hours, as the offending rooster kept up his call for sunup until the sun finally did rise.

A few days later, Linda, my neighbor to the east, half-jokingly chided me for my lack of institutional control in regard to my instigator rooster. She has to get up before breakfast anyway to get to town for her job at the feed store. She didn’t fully appreciate – well, actually she didn’t at all appreciate – the rowdy wake-up concert performed by the local dog and chicken show three hours before she was ready to get up. I reminded her that I got some of my first chickens from her, and I was pretty sure the offending rooster was a descendant of those first fowl settlers. Therefore, I could only rightfully lay claim to about 60% or 70% of the blame. She started it. I was unilaterally assigning some of the blame to her.

That goofy chicken, as silly as I thought he was, is not all that different from many of us as we try to sprint through the marathon that is so often the human rat race. It’s sadly not all that uncommon to see normally sensible and rational people drawn to, and intoxicated by, an artificial phosphorescent glow while the warmth and genuine light patiently rest with the sun behind the eastern hills, waiting for just the right moment to make an always perfectly timed and glorious entrance.

So take a lesson from my Chicken Little rooster. Just because there’s a lot of noise doesn’t mean the sky is falling. Be calm and wait for the sun.  end mark

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter or email Paul Marchant.

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