Ranting about social conditions without offering solutions is like owning a retired fighting cock with no hens?
I use to have chickens when I lived in Penngrove on a defunct chicken ranch. Godzilla, the cock, and his tribe of females were free ranging. One day I returned from my commute into San Francisco to discover the hens roosting on the back porch without their male leader. Immediately, I began a search of the five acres apprehensive Godzilla was done in by marauding coyotes or a large bird of prey.
Days went by and no Godzilla. I awoke listening to the dawn silence of no crowing by him and the hens taking to staying within their fenced compound. Egg production ceased. I went to the feed store to acquire a new cock yet none were available. Chicks were plentiful but the hens needed a new adult king strutting across their pastoral Northern California unworldly view.
Four weeks transpired. Sitting at my umbrella-less redwood picnic table I heard a pickup coming up the drive. My guard geese, Sacco and Vanzetti, honked loudly setting off my stud Wire-haired Fox Terrier dog, Beau Macomber. Beau was inside taking a Saturday afternoon nap on the waterbed watching college football on TV alongside my other beau at the time, Terence Martin Brennan, Esq.
As the pickup edged closer, I realized I did not know these gruff faces peering from the cab of the truck. Coming to a slower and slower speed the truck coughed as the geese, with heads down on lowered necks, aggressively waddle-ran over to barely turning front tires. The two men and the geese both looked at my inquisitive face – for assistance?
Dressed in Levi jean cutoff shorts, Chinatown Tai Chi shoes, and a baby blue big man’s dress shirt with sleeves rolled up to my elbows, I got up from the bench at the table. I shooed Sacco and Vanzetti away from biting the tarnished grill on the stopped banged up blue Chevy truck. I wiggled walked up to the driver’s side of the truck hoping some slight sexy motion would defuse any meanness from the truck’s inhabitants.
“Hello fellows, what can I do for ya?” I said to an open window framing faces of a brusque looking big man and a younger guy. Swinging my ponytail and batting my plentiful eyelashes yet never releasing my green eyes from the sun burnt faces, I repeated my question.
“Well, pretty little lady we have somethin’ for ya, if ya want him,” spit-spoke the oversized driver.
“What would that be guys?” I asked, once again tossing my ponytail.
“Your cock,” snorted a smaller burly man taking up space on the shotgun side of the pickup.
The pint-sized good ole’ boy motioned with his hand over his head aimed at two rifles set in a rack across the back window. I supposed he meant me to look in the bed of the pickup. I walked toward the direction he inferred and saw a wooden crate nailed with brand new chicken wire. The portable hutch was strapped down inside the rusty bed of the truck using a crusty leather horse halter.
Being short, I stepped up on the pickup’s rear bumper for a better view of the prize in the cage. The smell of rotting chicken manure hit me adding to my hangover nausea. The emptiness of my gourmand tummy needing the breakfast cure of a Sunday fresh egg omelet added incoming twirl of the whirlies. I waited for balance in all systems.
Finally, feeling not well but at least stable I looked inside the carrier crate. ‘My cock’ was stoically standing wearing a black cloth hood over his head. His natural leg spurs had man-made leather coverings but I knew it was the one and only Godzilla. The pride of Rancho Wreck (my name for my rented farm) flittered his shiny glorious black purple feathers of his showy jungle fowl tail.
Balancing myself, I reached for the crate and undid the wire closure repeating softly, “Nice, nice Godzilla.” The cock, even with his blinding binding fighting garb, easily jumped up and out onto a wooden top edge of the open crate. My heart surged to realize he was well. I took him by his feathered body, and placed him head forward, wings folded, tail free, safely under my left arm, and got down from the creaking truck.
Walking around to the driver’s side of the beat up stinky vehicle smiling and holding my rescued treasure I said, “Thank you, gentlemen. What do I owe you as a finder’s fee?”
Both men looked at each other and then the whiskered whisky voice driver said, “Nothin’, dis here cock of yours made us a lot of money in da ring so we decides he deserves to go back to his real life.”
“I see,” I sputtered as my hand felt Godzilla’s thumping heart beat under his thin skin and barn red breast feathers.
“Well, see ya,” we unilaterally offered each other as the engine gunned. I stepped away as the funky pair of cock fighters and the truck turned around and headed back down my long drive. Fits of airborne gravel and gray dust followed as they hit most of the potholes in the roadbed. A small covey of California Quail took wing from the ditch along side the county’s two-lane road as the truck bounced onto the taxpayer’s asphalt.
Hearing a weary motor cough in final acceleration and watching the truck semi-spin away on Minnesota Avenue, I removed Godzilla’s hood. I carefully set him down on the lush spring grass. A pleasant expanse of organic greenness recently hand-mowed by a freshly sharpened push mower was a welcome cushion for warrior Godzilla. The lawn and its perimeter beds of herbs with roses, lavenders, and one odd cosmos were especially verdant and healthy no doubt do to him and his bevy.
A raucous cackling emanated from the open air chicken pen attached to one of six obsolete redwood chicken houses. Coops large enough during each one’s former use to cram in hundreds of chickens for a total farm load heavy enough to raise a human family of four.
Freedom exhaled a deeper breath content to not be part of an escalating corporate chicken raising empire where trapped birds stood shoulder-to-shoulder under 24/7 lights fed hormones packaged for Safeway by the hundreds of thousands. Maybe this is why I do not like anything in bulk, including desert stones.
Returning to Godzilla’s free at last moment the rooster stood motionless, in all his male jungle glory. Flapping his cockles and moving his head from side to side he sized up where we were. I leaned down and untied the leather covers on his leg spurs. As the final cord tie was undone unleashing his talons, Godzilla flapped his spreading wings, threw his opened beak up into the cerulean blue sky, and let out a mega crow. Was this a salute to his homecoming liberty and a high-five to his ladies “I am back, girls?”
The Egyptian Geese stood clear of us remembering not to mess with Godzilla. The farmyard returned to its normal pecking order in short order. I went back to my perch on the table’s bench to read a three-week old Sunday NY Times Book Review about how The Old Farmer’s Almanac was published since 1792.
“The first edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac was published 16 years after the United States declared its independence from England. Therefore, as America celebrates its bicentennial, the Almanac joins the national party by preparing a special edition. This year, 1976, the price of the Almanac is 75 cents. In 1792 it was about nine cents.”
Looking up to see Godzilla doing his strut in preparation to selecting his next mate, I considered how to raise back yard fowl in freedom and safety from pillaging cock stealers. I decided to walk to the farm stand down the road and procure a farmer’s almanac knowing the info I needed was within its yellow cover.
Timing is everything? If the current twenty hours of sobriety has taught me anything, it is the wonder of synchronicity.
The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl (Godzilla’s heritage). As one of the most common and widespread human domesticated animals with a population of more than 24 billion on the planet, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird. Subsequently, the cause of acute alarm if H7N7 low-pathogen avian flu became pandemic.
Fowl had been known in Egypt since King Tut’s time, the 18th Dynasty (c. 1550–c. 1292 BC), with the “bird that gives birth every day” having come to Egypt from the land between Syria an Shinar, Babylonia, according to the annals of Tutmose III.
Living metaphors of raising a cock-a-doodle do in the backyard of Rancheria, Brazil, or in Sonoma County, California belies no secret manifestation.
Occasionally, the message is not a massage. It is merely a mutual tender note of unrequited love, or imaginations of same sprinkled in nostalgia.