No Happy Ending

Even though I knew it was unlikely, I was hoping for another miracle. I really wanted my rooster Monty to have escaped the coyote. I wanted to open the barn doors to find him on his usual perch, to hear him land with a thump! on the top of the doorway to crow with joie de vivre. Monty was a big crower. Walking the dogs at 4:30 AM in the dark every day I would hear Monty’s muffled heralds to the morning from up the hill.

But now the barn is empty except for the four remaining hens, who are very subdued. There is no swaggering, boasting, cocky (live with a rooster and you really understand that word) black ball of energy, clucking and scurrying and busily investigating every development.

Looking at my notes I see Monty was killed exactly a year to the day after I brought him home. In October 2016 I’d told DH I was going to drive three hours round-trip to pick up a free rooster.

Early last summer my long-time rooster, Nelson Eddy, had passed away peacefully of old age, dropping dead from his perch in the night at age nine. Nelson’s son, Lin-Manuel, reigned for only six weeks before he was killed by this current daylight-raiding coyote, along with his mother and two aunts. I needed a new rooster.

DH said, “Why do you need a rooster? Don’t the hens lay eggs anyway?”

Well, yes, but in my mind a flock isn’t a flock without a rooster, nor is a barn a barn, or a farm a farm. To me there is something archetypical and comforting about a rooster.

Nelson ruling the manure pile, 2010

So I drove to a distant farm and brought Monty home. He was tall, dark, slim, and handsome. I named him Montgomery Clift. He was also very wild. Unlike every chicken I’d ever raised, Monty had never been around people. His owner caught him in a net and I drove him home in a traveling crate. The minute I let him out he exploded from the barn and disappeared into the woods. Our first few days consisted of me trying to lure him to the safety of the barn to lock him inside. Then once I had him inside, if he noticed me he took off with a squawk.

Within weeks he calmed down enough to endure me walking past from a safe distance of twenty feet.

And within months he sensibly paid me no attention at all.

But I watched him — and his cheerful, arrogant rooster personality made me happy all year long.

Oh, Monty. I’m sad you’re gone.

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