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Brother Evangeline

From early on, we had our suspicions about Sister Evangeline. She had large feet, and she grew unusually fast. Still, she was gentle enough, though she didn’t like to be petted like the other hens. And she did not have the flashy comb that roosters (or so I thought) are supposed to have.

The first convincing sign came about three weeks ago, when there was a strange noise from inside the fence that scared the cat and me both. It sounded vaguely like a fox barking. But when I dashed to the door and looked, I saw an adolescent rooster practicing his crowing.

The second convincing sign started about two weeks ago. Watching chickens do it is not a pretty sight. It looks like rape to me, and now it happens first thing every morning, as soon as I let the chickens out, and again at random times during the day. He pinches the hens on the back, or on the back of the neck, to hold them still while he does his ugly little thing. The hens squawk. But so far no one seems to have been hurt.

I’ve been opposed to having a rooster, for several reasons. For one, they don’t lay eggs. For two, they make a lot of noise. For three, they can be mean. I have very clear memories of a rooster who used to flog me when I was a child and was sent to the barn to feed the chickens. I came home from school one day, and he was in the oven.

However, Brother Evangeline doesn’t spend a lot of time crowing. And, so far, he has never been aggressive with me. He continues to spat with Patience, the oldest and largest hen, but she hasn’t backed down yet and given up her place at the top of the pecking order, and they have not hurt each other.

So I guess the abbey’s nunnery is stuck with a rooster.


  1. Uptown Jimmy wrote:

    I bet Brother Evangeline would be right tasty in a stew! That ought to keep him from doing his “ugly little thing”.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    If he ever flogs me, or hurts one of the girls, it may come to that!

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  3. Uptown Jimmy wrote:

    I used to get what for from a chicken, a vicious Leghorn. I had to put her down. She made good chicken and dumplings. But it was unpleasant business getting her ready for the pot.

    Papa Johnson used to tell a story about a rooster who attacked him every day until one day his father went out there and wrung that rooster’s neck. But the rooster didn’t die: he walked around for a good long while with his head on sideways.

    That was back in the early 20th century, of course. Every Saturday Papa would go out to the hen yard and kill and pluck a chicken for the pot, or for fried chicken. I used to love to listen to him tell those old stories, over and over again, when I was a little boy.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    If I ever did have to terminate a chicken, I’d have to consult my 90-year-old mother about how to proceed. Some folk, as I recall, were neck-wringers; others were head-choppers. Getting the feathers off and doing the rest of the work must be an awful mess. Beans are a lot easier.

    Cruel as it sounds, life and death are infinitely better for homegrown chickens than for industrial chickens.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  5. David L.M. Marcum wrote:

    Three words for a mean rooster: coq au vin.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 1:45 am | Permalink
  6. Quetal wrote:

    Well, if it comes to that and someone does the dastardly thing on your behalf, your mama or sister will probably show you how fried chicken is prepared. Good luck Abby Master.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

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