The first telling of this story dates back to a Thanksgiving almost 40 years ago. I was bringing my then girlfriend, now wife home to meet my family. We were all seated around the feast deliciously prepared by my mother and as the bird was being destroyed, the story telling began. My family consists of story tellers all somehow trained in the art by my father. To entertain or perhaps warn my new girlfriend to the perils of our family, we were reliving, colorfully, stories of our growing up past. I was, due to the occasion, being particularly roasted a bit harder than the others. When I was finally able to find a slot, I decided to tell the story of “the rooster from hell”.
I need to take you back to the scene of the crime. I was likely nine or ten years old at the time and growing up on our family farm. One of my daily chores was to tend to the chickens. For my readers not familiar with a chicken other than one roasted, baked or fried, they are a dirty animal to begin with. They are equipped with tough thorn bejeweled chicken legs that they expertly use to scratch the ground, and anything else for that matter, into a mottled mess. This is likely the reason they have those deliciously developed drumsticks. When you throw roosters into the mix, well it only gets worse. Roosters, by their very nature, are built to fight. The year before, my parents had decided to add a batch, or should I say, a gang of roosters to their usual order of some fifty hatch lings. The hatch lings had all grown, along with the now street smart gang of roosters, into a producing flock.
Each morning, I would head out to the chicken coop to collect the eggs. Without fail, those roosters would be waiting for me, thorns drawn sporting for a fight. They would be poised there on the roost and as I went around the coop collecting the eggs, they would one at a time come down and corner me, pecking at my legs and threatening me with their thorns. I was a little scrawny kid, I’m just laying out my eventual defense here, and was soon not looking forward to that daily chore.
After several weeks of this relentless harassment, I had decided it was time to arm myself. It was on this particular morning that I secreted a baseball bat into the coop concealed behind my back. As the first rooster dropped down from the perch, I prepared to defend myself. With the rooster coming at a full clip, I took my best swing. My aim was good and the rooster, needless to say, went down, unfortunately for the full count. The crime of the century had been committed and I was now a felon on the run. Or perhaps “fowlon” on the run. The good news was that the remaining gang took due notice of their felled chieftain and had retreated to the roost. It turns out, chickens have memories and none of them ever bothered me again. I had new found respect but a dead rooster to get rid of. No way were my parents to ever find out.
The solution to my dilemma was the cow yard manure pile. After artfully burying the victim deep within the pile, I felt I was safe. No way would my parents have actually counted the number of chickens, let alone the roosters in their possession. Since the manure pile would remain there until spring, my crime was out of sight and out of mind.
As winter came and went, I had completely forgotten about the body and my involvement in the heinous crime. But then there we were, loading the manure spreader and slowly diminishing the pile, when what should suddenly appear? As the fates were on my side, after all the victim deserved it, I was the first to spot the body. Fortune further intervened when my father decided it was a full load and headed to the garage for some errand. With a quick two step, I dug the corpse free and reburied it deftly within the spreader’s load. In another hour, it would be a part of a soon to be plowed field and gone forever. The crime of the century, buried and gone.
At this point, my story had garnered the desired effect among my siblings and as the laughter subsided, my mother turned to my father and said “I told you there were thirteen.” I guess they HAD counted and un-be knownst to me, my parents had been waging this argument for the ensuing twenty years. To this day, I want to believe that my dad had seen the corpse and been covering for his son all those years.
If there is a moral here, it might be that parents always know more than we think and that chicken, as far as I’m concerned, is best enjoyed stuffed and baked and then served with an ample covering of gravy.