Putting on the Big Boots

Something we can count on

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It’s always good to know there are things in life we can count on. Flip a switch and let there be light. Turn a faucet and voila! Water pours forth! Every morning just before dawn, I can count on a wake-up call from Brooster. Actually 20 wake-up calls—at least.

Brooster is my Delaware-Cuckoo Maran-cross rooster. He is NOT a sweet, lovable cuddly critter. Once a week, Brooster sneaks up behind me (obviously thinking he needs to assert himself as the alpha male), ready to attack. His two-inch spurs have connected with my legs several times. I once promised myself I would never keep a mean rooster, but two factors have prevented Brooster from becoming chicken noodle. First of all, a rooster ensures fertile eggs in the event that I want to hatch chicks. Second, I count on Brooster to defend the flock. We have weasels, hawks, bobcats, coyotes and other predators abound here in the country. I have read that roosters will fight to the death for their women. Every morning when I hear that rooster crow, I smile and go back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that my chickens have a protector.

But this morning something was different. First-light song birds broke the morning silence, calling and answering through the trees. I waited for Brooster. No cock-a-doodle-do. No daily wake-up calls. Nothing.

Images of the dreaded weasel flew into my head. Had one slipped through wires? Were Brooster and all the hens lying dead in bloody carnage? I pictured poor Brooster, dying a hero’s death.

I stepped into my chicken-print Sloggers and cautiously plodded to the coop, dreading what I might find. The hens were outside in the small fenced-in area under their house. They moved about nervously, pecking at a morsel here and there on the ground. Where was Brooster?

The yard was quiet. Too quiet. I stopped and looked around. Suddenly, just behind the coop I saw movement! A very large dark-gray animal strutted back and forth. Its tail opened into a giant fan, then closed. Wings drooped. The whitish head turned, and the long red snood shook with a “gobble-gobble-gobble.” A tom turkey danced his courtship ritual for the chickens in the coop. He wanted to know my hens---in the biblical sense!

A look inside the main coop revealed Brooster, cowering on the back roost. He had taken one look at that enormous bird and cackled, “You’re on your own, girls!” Some protector!

When the gobbler saw me, he sauntered into the woods. Eventually, the lily-livered feathery wimp, Brooster, stuck his beak out to make sure the coast was clear.

Tonight, when I opened the coop door to let the flock out to range, I told Brooster he was pathetic. “You are such a chicken!” I laughed at the pun and turned away. The hens clucked in agreement.

Just then, something sneaked up behind me. It crowed. It was Brooster, ready to attack.

Well, I guess it is good to know there are some things in life we can count on.

Kruempel’s newest book, Once Upon a Midwest Sunset, as well as her 5-book series, Promises to Keep, are available on Amazon.com. Once Upon a Midwest Sunset (an excellent gift of memories) is a compilation of the stories from her NOOKS AND CRANNIES column, which was published in five newspapers in 2020-21. Contact her at deannkruempelauthor@gmail.com

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