The Chinese New Year has just begun and it seemed appropriate to crow a little bit about it. First, it is my Chinese zodiac sign and 2017 has been declared the Year of The Rooster! Having established that, I will move on to the roosters in my life. The fine specimen above is “Fonzie,” a white-crested Polish who approached his manhood last summer in a stop and start frenzy of crowing, strutting and running after the hens like a kabuki dancer. His amorous forays in the chicken yard created hysteria among the hens and two roosters were not in the chicken yard plan. It was only a matter of time until Cromwell, Rooster Number One escaped his pen and dispatched Fonzie into the great unknown. Imagining the spectacle of that, I suggested we take Fonzie to the vet to be gently euthanized. I received a derisive snort from the better half and he promised he would be “gentle” when he euthanized our errant rooster. I don’t want to think about it. Moving along.
Cromwell’s arrival was a surprise also. But he was so magnificent a specimen (we are not sure if he is a Leghorn, Orpington or fowl play) that it seemed only natural to allow him to establish his kingdom–for awhile. He made a great contribution to the flock when he and Betty White hatched a nest of babies.
From this lovely batch of chicks it was determined we had two roosters. How to tell? Some suggested their combs were different. Another suggestion was that if you grab them by the feet and hang them upside down, the roosters will . . . . .now I can’t remember what they are supposed to do? By the time we had these chicks, I realized I had exceeded my self imposed limit of 22 laying hens if even half of these turned out to be hens. After a few weeks, it was time to find four of these babies a new home. I marched on the brooder house with a fishing net and after a tussle managed to capture four and placed them in a cage for their new owner. Turns out, the two remaining were hens. I was happy to be spared the trauma of disposing of another rooster.
A visit to a Portland import/export shop several years ago turned up this wood-carved fellow who won my heart. He wasn’t all that much fun stuffing in the overhead bin of the airplane, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. He keeps watch over the front yard a safe distance from Cromwell, and was joined by a motley crew of wood and tin imposters.
Roosters arrive in many forms at our house. I believe I must have a subconscious attraction for them as they seem to have accumulated in various forms. I had to wipe some dust off before taking this picture of Archie, the most flamboyant of the collection.
Reggie came as a treasured Christmas gift from a nephew last year and won my heart with his bright colors. We placed him out on the porch one day when Cromwell was given freedom to roam the yard, which in winter has been quite rare. Snow drifts have been too deep for poor Cromwell to venture very far. He ignored Reggie utterly and completely! Probably a good thing, as he might have come away the worse for wear pitted up against Reggie’s sharp metal feathers, comb and beak.
This giant bronze was created by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and displayed, along with the other Chinese zodiak symbols, at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming May-October, 2015.
The artist of these bronzes, Ai Weiwei, was inspired by an 18th century zodiac fountain in an imperial garden in Beijing. These images are at least 12 feet tall and were an awe-inspiring exhibit. For all the roosters everywhere, have a splendid year! Cock-a-doodle- doo!