I am sad to report that upon our return from our first vacation day this year (spent down at the Jersey Shore), our wildly eccentric, fiercely protective rooster was found missing.
Frenchy, aka “the general,” aka “little Richard,” aka “damn you frenchy!”, was a Golden Polish Crested Rooster that was one of our original batch of chicks that we purchased from Murray McMurray Hatchery. He was originally second in command to Big Red our beautiful Rhode Island Roo who was killed early on by our neighbor’s dog (along with 13 other hens, grrr).
After Frenchy assumed the post of Top Roo on the farm, he went about his job with gusto, keeping watch for the hawks (ever on the hunt for an easy meal), neighboring dogs, fox, you name it. Each time a hen laid an egg and exited the coop in her typically loud squawking fashion (omigod I laid an egg, I laid an egg!), Frenchy would run to the coop and shepherd the hen back to wherever he had them foraging at the moment. He led them around a large perimeter, almost 2 acres, searching out the choicest grub for his girls.
When we took in a lonely old hen from a neighbor whose flock had dwindled, he carefully positioned her against the wall of the coop at night, putting himself between her and the other bitchy hens who were eager to show Helga where she belonged in the pecking order. Indeed, out of doors, when the hens were overeager to take their turn bossing Helga, Frenchy would rush over and protect her, putting his wing outspread like a matador’s cape and doing his Catalonian dance around her.
Frenchy was not without flaws. I (Jen) was rarely without a “Frenchy stick.” Something, anything, to hurl at him when he came full force to attack and protect his hens from us mean Two-Leggeds Who Steal The Eggs. He never made contact with me, but Tree got a whack or two. And many a visitor stayed in their car till we came out. He was persistent, relentless and excellent for chasing off Jehovah’s Witnesses. He scared many a strong-armed manly man who had the unfortunate job of checking the electric meter, or replacing the pump, or whatever.
We tired of his protective nature but could never give him the ax. He was so good to his girls. And he was so beautiful and amusing to watch. He had a colorful crest of feathers that grew up and spilled over his face, so that he would have to peer sideways underneath them to figure out who you were. (If you’re of my generation, think Flock of Seagulls or Kaja Goo Goo). Tree took to trimming them short in the front, keeping them long in the back (now his hair took on that horrible rocker doo look, the mullet, which also continues to plague many lesbians).
So who killed Frenchy, you ask? We don’t know. We found his feathers scattered around in front of the goat barn. As a neighbor put it, “he was probably defending his girls,” since they liked to forage around the goats. Although the chooks are plagued by hawks, I don’t think it was a hawk who would leave the feathers in a nice neat pile. Hawks are very fastidious about getting all those feathers off a bird before eating it. We can always tell when a hawk took a bird. It was probably a roaming dog or a coyote. With all the wildlife here in rural suburbia, it is most often a neighboring dog who does the most damage. Alas and alack.
So here’s to you Frenchy, you old curmudgeon. We miss you. Really we do.