The sun had barely crested the horizon when the anguished crow sounded from the side yard. I lifted my head from the pillow to listen. My husband did the same.
"What was that?" I asked, as I struggled to focus on the clock. "It sounded a lot like a turkey."
"No, that sounded like Chester!" My husband bolted out of bed, grabbing his pants and boots on his way to the back door, calling out to me as he went. "I think the fox might have gotten him."
I hurried into my own boots to follow him, but we were too late. We found Chester crumpled in the tall grass, his breathing labored and his neck broken. All but dead, with no hope of survival.
This was no fox attack. No self-respecting fox would leave such a mouthwatering meal uneaten. This was the work of an unknown ninja attacker. Poor, poor Chester.
Once Chester's last breath had been taken, we said a few words over his body.
"Should we go ahead and pluck him?" My husband asked.
My mouth dropped open and I stared at him. "Pluck him? What do you mean, pluck him?"
He shrugged. "Well, we might as well eat him."
There was no way I was eating that bird. He had just fought off an attacker in the yard. An attacker bound and determined to kill as many chickens as it could. He saved all but one, but suffered a mortal wound in the process.
Chester was a hero. A hero deserving of a eulogy.
Chester A. Rooster was born in captivity. For much of his young life, he knew nothing outside of the small pen he was housed in. He didn't know how to beg for bread, didn't know how forage for bugs and grasses, in fact, he knew very little. But after we took him in, he quickly found his gift. His lush golden feathers and sweet demeanor easily made him the favorite of the hens on the farm. He made friends with the ducks (before the fox ate them) and even befriended the pigs.
In fact, it wasn't uncommon to find Chester perched on the back of one of the pigs for the night. There were times when he spent weeks on end in the pig pen. Oh sure, it was mostly because he forgot how to get out once he'd gotten in, but that didn't seem to dampen his spirits at all. All the way to the end, he was a kindhearted, dingbat of a bird.
Chester is survived by three wives--Henrietta, Henny Penny, and Mrs. McGillicuddy. He was the father to ten children--Lucy, Maude, the late Ethel (also lost to a possible ninja garden gnome) Biscuit, Buffy, Lucy 2, and three as yet unnamed daughters. He will also be missed by several other chickens, two pigs (until next week when they go to the big freezer in the sky) and thirteen turkeys (that never actually met him, but would have loved him if they had.) Taking over from Chester will be Siegfried and Roy, our two young Aseel roosters. They may be fighting game cocks, but they're as docile as Chester, and only half as brave. They have their work cut out for them if they want to fill his...um...feet?
Also lost in the early morning melee was one of our prized Silver Dorking hens. She didn't have a name (they all sort of look a like) but she had a sweet personality. She, and her eggs, will be missed.
If we could have just a moment of silence for the dead.
Until the next time...I'll be shopping for a new rooster.