One day I had gone out to get a pail of water from the pump by the barn, when a sound made me look up. One of the roosters was chasing a hen. When he caught up to the hen, she crouched down, and the rooster got on top of her back. I didn’t know this was normal behavior for hens and roosters because anything having to do with the birds and the bees wasn’t talked about in my family. I thought he was chasing the hen to overpower her.
I ran towards the rooster. He got off the hen and she ran away. He stepped sideways and stared at me with his beady eye, then came towards me. The way he looked at me scared me. He looked mean. I told myself he was a lot smaller. But, when he took another step towards me, I ran away.
I was out cleaning the tray from the oilstove a few days later, when Mem told me to go and chase a rooster out of the entrance to the chicken house where we kept the chicken feed — he had gotten in there and was eating out of the bins. I said, “I don’t want to do that, he’ll flutter me.” Mem said, “He is a lot smaller then you are. Take the tray with you. So I went in there and tried to scare him out, when he flew at my legs and bare feet. I held the tray out to protect my feet, so then he flew at my face. I held the tray in front of my face, then he went after my feet again. I stood there, jerking the tray up and down several times and all of a sudden I dropped the tray and ran. He tackled my back on my way out, so that I felt one of his spurs through my dress. I was shaking in fright when I got to the house. Mem said she was sorry, she didn’t think he would do that, but she still made me go out and get the tray, after assuring me he was gone.
One day I was hanging wash on the line when I saw two roosters fighting. They stared into one another’s eyes for a long time with their feathers on their necks sticking straight out. Then both of them flapped their wings at the same time and flew at each other, trying to claw one other with the sharp spurs and to peck each other’s eyes out. I grabbed a clothesline prop and chased them. They stopped fighting and ran away.
I discovered I had power over the mean roosters with my clothesline prop. Over the next several weeks I stopped the roosters from chasing the hens, and from fighting each other. Then I developed a game where I would chase them, to see if I could hit one before he ran underneath the chicken coop. Sometimes I’d turn around and find another rooster coming up behind me. I’d chase him too.
To be continued…