In case this is your first time reading my slices, here is my focus for the challenge: my fifth graders and I are going to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge this month, and they're writing memoirs. I thought I'd do the same kind of writing - memory writing - throughout the challenge. My new writing idea/goal is to write an early chapter book series based around a character very much like me, so remembering my childhood stories is very important for that project. I'm going to be writing around photographs and memorabilia.
On Wednesday, I shared the new book What's Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle and other wonderful children's illustrators. I read the ones that told a story about an animal or pet and then asked the kids to slice about an animal story. Right away I had a student say, "You should write about your rooster!" I had told them stories about my evil attack rooster I had when I was a kid. So now I'm going to tell you the story. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a real picture of it, so I drew it instead:
I had a Rhode Island Red rooster who was beautiful, but vicious. I'm not even sure now why we kept him. I think we wanted to hatch our own chicks, so we kept him around to fertilize eggs, but oh my, he was evil! I had to gather up my courage to enter the stall where he stood guard, rustling up his neck feathers until they stood out like Queen Elizabeth's ruff. I would come prepared with my
stick and kicking boots. I know it sounds cruel to be ready with these makeshift weapons, but that thing didn't feel pain. Practically nothing would stop him! He would leap up, squawking, avian toes spread with claws extended, flap his devil wings, and attack! I would do some squawking of my own, prepared to defend myself at all costs. "Ahhhhhh!" I'd yell, "Take that!" and I'd kick him with as much force as my eight-year-old self could muster. I remember one such attack that resulted in me kicking him hard enough that he hit the back stall wall, slid defeated and stunned to the floor, looking very much unconscious. "Oh my gosh! He's DEAD!" I yelled! And no matter how much I hated that bird, in that moment, I felt horrible and sad. But lo and behold, he stood up shakily, shook his battered feathers, and attacked me again!
My mom feared him, too. We had a clothesline stretched from the house to a giant Maple tree in the backyard. She would bring out her basket of wet sheets and towels and start pinning them to the line in the bright sunshine. The untrained eye wouldn't notice her weapon of choice propped up against the tree - a broom. That rooster would spy her from the barn - a good 20 yards away - and take off running toward her. I swear I would see him pawing the ground first with one foot, snorting steam from his beak nostrils, his beady eyes flashing. Mom would see him out of her ever-aware peripheral vision (she was a teacher, after all - she could see him coming even if her back was turned), and run to get her broom, ready to fend him off. One time, though (she must not have been feeling well and her defenses were down), she failed to see him coming, and he caught her by surprise. She barely turned in time, and when she saw him, knowing she was defenseless, hightailed it the other way, taking off across the yard, Evil Attack Rooster close behind. I took off after them, each of us in a ridiculous line dance. After circling the entire house, he finally gave up the chase, and she was safe, bent over with hands on her knees, taking in exhausted big breaths. Oh, if only we had had video and YouTube back then. It would have gone viral.
I don't remember when we finally decided enough was enough. The poor, scruffy, beaten up hens probably convinced us to get rid of him. They were his victims, too. I'm sure they formed a union and picketed the barnyard, shouting about spousal abuse and unfair labor conditions. As crazy as that bird was, it sure provided a lot of material for stories around the dinner table years afterward.