Put Up a Good Fight
When I was four years old, my dad brought home a chicken for me. It was a little bantam rooster, and the first chicken I ever owned. The Bantam was a born fighter. Right when we laid eyes on one another, we knew it was going to be a long war.
Our family also had five other chickens. My job was gathering eggs. Whenever I went out to the coop for the eggs, my bantam hovered nearby.
If I turned my back to get the eggs out of the nests, he attacked me. I had to start carrying a stick to defend myself, but he still got me. When I told Dad what the bantam was doing, he said the next time it happened I should bring the little rooster to him.
I did and Dad trimmed the feathers on the bantam's neck so they wouldn't fluff out and scare me. He thought that when I got scared, the bantam knew it and attacked. After the bantam got his neck trimmed, he was nice, and we got to be really close friends.
Because he had chased me so often, we named the bantam Psycho. Before long, the whole family thought of Psycho as a pet.
Rachel, with one of her chickens and a ribbon at a fair, has been showing chickens since she was 8.
When Psycho and I both got a little older, I would carry him while I was riding my bike. He also started skateboarding. I'd set him on a skateboard, give the board a gentle push and watch him ride. He never jumped off, even though he could have.
When Psycho was 9 years old, tragedy Struck. I awoke one morning and saw Dad carrying a bunch of dead chickens from the coop. A mink had gotten in and killed 21 of them.
Psycho was among the dead ones. I've always believed he put up a valiant fight to save the flock, but wasn't enough to win against a mink.
Psycho met his end on Casimir Pulaski Day, which somehow seems fitting. Here in Illinois, Casimir Pulaski Day is the first Monday in March. It is set aside to honor a man who was a real fighter. Casimir Pulaski was a Polish horse soldier who founded this country's first cavalry.
Psycho was a fighter, too --- he just couldn't win the biggest battle of his life.
Despite his rocky start with us, Psycho turned into a priceless chicken that our family loved very much. We still remember what his cow sounded like. Every now and then we think we hear him, and know he is alive in our hearts.
Psycho loved to be held. He also loved being chased around the farmyard like in a game of tag. We buried him under a tree in our yard. Even though it's been several years since he died, I still sometimes put flowers on his grave.
I've been showing chickens at the county fair every year since I was 8. One of the chickens I have now is an Araucana rooster. He has become a family pet just like Psycho was. Another of the things I have learned from raising chickens is that there are always one or two that will work their way into your heart.