©South County News/The Daily News
People have told me about a chicken that wanders around downtown Woodland from time to time, but I’ve never seen it. A beautiful black rooster did show up in my neighborhood, though, a few months ago. He was delivered to a neighbor’s driveway in a big, unmarked cardboard box, and the neighbor never did find out where he came from. From the first day he arrived, he was a friendly rooster, joining in with the conversation when people talked to him. My seven-year-old granddaughter liked to reach out to pet his shiny feathers or to hold out a cracker, which he would take carefully from her hands. I sometimes saw neighbor boys pick him up from his evening perch in a large fir tree and hold him. He didn’t have a name; I just called him Rooster. Whenever I went outside, Rooster would run up to me and start talking and bobbing his head, begging for a treat or some company. One day when I went inside to get some oats from the cupboard, I looked down to see Rooster waiting patiently in my kitchen while my cat watched cautiously, but curiously. They eyed each other, but neither attacked. Rooster gave a loud crow early each morning, letting us know it was time to start the day. As I sat in my office working, I often looked out to see that he had located me, and was standing outside the window. He also made many friends throughout the neighborhood, and made rounds up and down the street each day. One day when my niece was visiting, I said “You just have to see this rooster, but he hasn’t been around today.” I went outside and called to him, and immediately heard his “cock-a-doodle-doo.” There he was, lying under the fir tree, barely moving. When I went to investigate, it looked like he had been there for some time, and his leg was broken. Carefully, I picked him up, placed him in an animal carrier, and took him home. A neighbor helped splint his leg. I consulted the internet for advice on how to fix a chicken leg. Rooster would not have liked the recipe I was shown. Not wanting to let him get cold, he spent two nights on one of our end tables, where he got to watch TV for the first time. It was an odd to be awoken by a rooster crowing inside the house. By day, his cage sat outside on the patio. He ate, drank water, and seemed quite content, even standing and awkwardly turning around a couple times a day.By the third day, he started boarding at the neighbors’ house, where he lived in a small fenced area by day and in his cage in their laundry room at night. Although he limped, he regained use of his leg. We knew a crippled rooster could not survive running freely in the neighborhood. One day, my husband’s cousin Michelle visited. She lives on a farm and can never turn down an animal in need of a home. She took one look at Rooster and said, “I’ll take him. I have four hens, but no rooster.”Rooster rode quietly in his cage to his new home near Goble, OR. There, with thirty-six goats, four hens, two horses, three dogs, and some ducks for playmates, he forgot about his broken leg, and about becoming a TV-watching couch potato. I went to Rooster’s new home in August when I was invited to spend the weekend visiting with family. As I observed him, being careful not to touch the electric fence, I noticed he no longer had any sign of a limp. He ran with the goats. He ran with the hens. He ran everywhere, and his leg had healed perfectly; but he was no longer friendly to people.I watched as cousin Michelle went into the fenced area to feed the animals. Ever since the rooster, now called Festus, had attacked her grandson, and then had tried to attack her, she had had to have one of the dogs keep the rooster busy by chasing him in circles while she fed the animals. Festus ran round and round, herded by the dog, and I suspect this exercise helped his broken leg return to normal use.Even though Festus attacked Michelle and others, I was sure he still loved me. After all, he had been a guest in my home; he let me carry him, visit with him, and pet him. When I awoke the first morning and saw him running across the yard, I went out for a visit. Festus and I spoke a few words to each other and then I bent down to chat with him. As soon as I did, he attacked. I hurried back to the house, with a scratch on my ankle from his sharp talons, and Chester, the fickle rooster, chased me all the way.