The Rooster and the Feather
A person learns a lot on the farm and the best teachers are often creatures such as ourselves, struggling with all the baser instincts and displaying only occasionally the nobility God put in them.
One cold January morning my old yellow rooster, Ginger, strutted and croaked importantly as he called his half-dozen hens to the spot by the drive where I was dumping their can of corn. His nobler part allowed him to wait patiently for the hens and as he called they came, first meandering slowly lifting each foot high in the funny little dance-walk of chickens on cold ground and then, on seeing the mound of corn and connecting it with his calls, running, all from different directions where they had been searching for a stray wisp of dehydrated grass or a plump beetle, quick-frozen and left from the last treacherous, spring-mimicking thaw.
And all was well with their world until Baja, the younger white rooster, joined in. Ginger flew at him with “tooth and talon”, spent precious minutes beating him away from the feed and wound up with a beak full of white feathers. The corn pile is quickly being diminished by the hens. Another precious minute is wasted as he shakes his head and rubs his beak on the ground to disengage the feathers.
By now, partly through the efforts of the white rooster, the corn pile is almost gone. Ginger is left with one feather, not a smooth outer feather but a fluffy “underwear” feather, frozen to his upper beak. He opens and closes his beak, shakes his head cross ways and up and down. The feather sticks. He pulls his head back as far as he can and looks cross-eyed at the tiny cloud a fraction of an inch from his nostril. By now the corn pile is gone, Baja has wandered off and the hens are meandering back, one by one, to their place of choice in the yard on a very cold morning.
Finally, a combination of his beakly manipulations and a sharp breeze dislodge the bit of fluff and it wafts away on the winter air. And he has had no breakfast.
There should be a lesson in there somewhere.