Mr. Feathers was a rooster I never met. He was the master of the hen house on a forty-acre farm owned by my friend, Anna. She brought Mr. Feathers home as a young cockerel along with the female chicks she planned to raise for eggs. He followed Anna while she pulled weeds around her tomato plants or while she worked in the stables.
Anna has the space with her outbuildings and stables to share life with animals. The view from her wrap around deck is rolling hills covered in trees, lawn, and pastures. She speaks of her ducks waddling into the baby pool, and the cats that show up and decide to stay. She has two dogs who live in the house. And her ten Rocky Mountain Spirit horses thunder into the barn when it’s feeding time.
Anna’s kids had the fun to giving the rooster his charming name. They enjoyed standing by the coop and watching him interact, or guard, the hens. And the whole family woke to Mr. Feathers’ cock-a-doodle doos.
When I vacationed one weekend with Anna and her daughter last summer, we spent our evenings grilling and enjoying the view of the lake. In the kitchen, while chopping onions and marinating the steak, we spoke of Mr. Feathers and the idea of having a farm big enough to share with a rooster. Anna pointed out that having animals isn’t always a perfect affair. For example, all those cats who show up on their farm have kittens and those kittens have more kittens. But in the case of Mr. Feathers, the unexpected happened. Anna drove up her driveway one day and found him dead on the lawn. She suspected the neighbor’s dog had wondered over and killed him.
Then she confessed, “I’m kind of glad he’s gone.”
Her daughter who had entered the kitchen at the end of the story heard her mom and started to cry. She missed Mr. Feathers.
“I am sorry,” Anna said, “but he would follow me around and pester me with his spurs. It is no fun getting pestered by a rooster.” Anna tried to laugh as she spoke her truth, to try ease a reality that may sound cold to a young kid.
Sharing life with animals has benefits such as the excuse to work outside or the chance to teach kids about animal care and responsibility. The farm girl in me thinks forty acres and ducks and kittens and horses running about would be a wonderful gift to give my own family. But sharing life with animals does come with not-so-pretty realities. In truth, I am not certain I would have the disposition to own ducks and kittens and horses all at the same time. I am the product of a father who, as a teen, told his own parents that the goose poop in the yard has to stop, and he sent those birds a-packing.
When we got our German Shepherd, Archer, my first house dog, I thought the primary battle would be flying fur. Thus far, the hair has been the least of my troubles. I didn’t know, until now, that he’d scratch the crap out of our woodwork, paw at the glass and bark! bark! bark! when walkers stroll by on the boulevard or that he’d eat poopy diapers and rotten meat from the garbage. I also didn’t know the sound of Archer licking dirty plates in the dishwasher would cause me to cringe.
Someday I hope to own a bigger plot of land than the city lot I have now. I may decide then raise hens and roosters. We’ll see. For now, I’m keeping my seventy pound dog–fur and licks and all–since the other reality of sharing life with animals is how we humans get attached. And Archer has enamored us all with his sweet fuzzy face and happy pee dances when we return home.
This post is brought to you by the letter R in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. Thanks for reading. Scroll past the social media buttons to share a story or to comment on this post.