Friday, August 31, 2018

Graybeard the Great!

Feared by humans, revered by the other roos all over the farmyard. Even the cats make a wide swath to avoid his path, and you, too, would be wise to do the same - to spare yourself a pummeling like no other, from those incredibly strong chicken legs.

Excuse me, where did this chicken come from?

A stray little pullet chicken to the little barn, over 4 years ago, mistaken for a hen in his younger days, became our most fierce and protective rooster at the farm. More fierce than I've ever seen. Ever. And I've mothered dozens of roos here! 

He quickly showed dominance, as what I thought was a lead hen - standing guard as other hens laid eggs in the horse troughs. It was around then I began to notice, my, my, how large your feet are becoming, for a hen...... 

It wasn't long after that then, that the rest of Graybeard's features began to form. And he became one of the most strikingly beautiful of the otherwise ordinary Barred Rock breed. And that crow! Oh you never heard such a loud rooster. He was housed over 200 ft from the main house, yet his crow was heard inside during the early morning hours as he awoke the residents of his coop.

Tragically, Graybeard, by way of one of his exceptionally long talons, became tangled in some nylon fencing during the heat of the afternoon. No doubt, chasing after something like he did. He struggled hard to free himself, as was apparent by the mark on his little (well, not so little, really) "ankle".

Seeing him only a few hours earlier at the barn, careful to avoid his ambush, I now reached him at feeding time near his coop and he was tired, hot, and dehydrated. 
Untangling him, I hurried over to a cool water bath and stroked his bright red comb with water and slowly immersed his trunk in the water trying to cool him down. Never before would he let me handle him like this. 
Always so angry was Graybeard. Quick to peck, often breaking the skin, upside down by his giant feet was the best, and safest for me, position in which to hold him while checking the coop for eggs.
Not so yesterday afternoon. He let me nurse him. Helplessness in his eyes.

As I gently tried to reassure him, I continued to cool his body down slowly, putting water up into his under-wing area, where they normally let the breeze in. I angled his head so water could trickle into his beak so he could drink.  He made attempts to do so. but he was very tired and weak. I feared the worst as I gently tucked him into his coop with his ladies for the night.

Sadly, Graybeard met his match with the late August, Texas summer heat, some time late over night on August 30th, 2018, four years to the month in which he became a member of this farm.
It wasn't a very long life. But he lived it fully and fiercely! 
I shall miss my sparring partner. (Although, feeding and cleaning the coop will certainly be much less of a challenge now that I don't have to keep a stick handy to swat him away. And we shall have another roll of electric poultry netting to use elsewhere, now the children visitors don't need to be protected from him.) 

He was renowned the farm over - and over into the neighbors' yards, for his the loudest crow of all. Oh how I shall miss that crazy loud, raspy crow. 
He'd see you coming, or me, and give out a crow - which would alert Smoke, our ewe, who would then follow with a bleat of her own - and then, finally
Oh, is someone here?
then, the dogs would rub their sleepy eyes and come out from their nap to see who or what was getting so much attention. 

Rest in peace Graybeard. You shall be missed. 
Graybeard the Great    8/2014-8/2018
Replaced, but missed.
(A young roo is in the wings and shall learn the ropes from his dad, Foghorn "Foggy" Leghorn. Spared now from the neighbor's stew pot due to overpopulation.) 
 And that, my friends, is just another day, down on the urban farm, up the street, under the old oak trees. 

 Eat Your Food - Naturally!


  1. I delight going to Eden's Garden. The farm touches my soil loving inner being. I like the distribution too. I have learned to enjoy foods such as greens that I never had before.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad the farm gives you joy. :)


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