Our second rooster was an impossibly handsome Columbian Wyandotte. This rooster had a rose-comb and beautiful long, curved tail feathers that were black and green iridescent in the sun. He was a big boy and he knew he was gorgeous. He proudly strutted his stuff. This rooster, Armand, was friendly and very polite—but he was also insanely horny. Even though Armand had a couple dozen “girlfriends” to entertain him, he was insatiable. He was very considerate and gentle though; he never ripped up the girls like some other clodhopper roosters do. He always did this little two-step, sideways shuffle-mating dance with one wing fanned out to impress a girl and get her in his orbit before he mounted her. This was his idea of sexy chicken foreplay, I guess.
One time early in Armand’s mating career, a nice conservative neighbor from down the road was visiting. This older gentleman and I were standing on the lawn chatting when Armand came over and mounted a hen at the man’s feet. Armand banged the snot out of her right there. When Armand was finished, the hen straightened up and shook her feathers indignantly and stomped away.
The older man’s mouth was dropped open. He said, “Did he just…? Jesus.”
He shook his head and went home.
After a couple of years, Armand developed a mild respiratory affliction that occasionally made it hard for him to crow—kind of seemed like a severe sore throat. I accidentally found a cure one night when I had Armand in the living room in front of the woodstove to see if heat would help. I was drinking Scotch and Armand walked over and took a beak full of Scotch. He sneezed and took another beak full. He crowed like hell the next morning. Every once in a while I think he was faking a sore throat just so he would be invited in for a cocktail. Armand was the only Scotch-drinking rooster I ever heard of.
Armand also fathered the only chick ever to be hatched on our farm. This lack of hatchlings was probably more my fault than Armand’s, as he was definitely hitting the mark. I just couldn’t leave the fertilized eggs alone. Not trusting nature to take Her course, I was always messing with them; so the one chick that hatched was a total surprise.
One night after Tom and I returned home from dining out, we both went in the coop to say goodnight to the ladies and gentleman. It was actually unusual for us to both be in the coop at the same time. I picked up one of the broody white Silkies that was setting on a clutch of eggs—and there was a fuzzy yellow golf-ball with two tiny black eyes looking back at us. She looked as astonished as we did.
Tom laughed, “Well, one actually made it despite your help.”
“Oh my god, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” I sighed.
I named her “Winona” which means “first-born.”
I sat for a couple of hours watching them and I had the unbelievable good fortune to see the mother Silkie teach Winona how to eat. The mother picked up a kernel of cracked corn; dropped it in front of the baby and then peck…peck…pecked it and swallowed it. Winona just stood there watching. The mother repeated her lesson, although this time she peck…peck…pecked a little more empathically. Winona still didn’t move. This time the mother hen took the corn and in frustration PECK…PECK…PECKED! pounding until Winona hopped over and pecked it and swallowed it. I swear I saw the mother hen roll her eyes as if to say, “We got a real live wire in this one.”
Armand had an illustrious career that would have made any Casanova proud. He died one night in the dead of winter. I went into the coop in the morning and found him lying stiff and cold on the floor. I was immeasurably sad that I hadn’t realized he was so gravely ill.
Maybe his death could have been prevented if only I had invited my old friend in for a nightcap.
Coming on Thursday!
LEWIS AND CLARK ~ Roosters I Have Known and Loved #3