Why am I again in full arctic regalia and holding a rooster a full 3 hours after I did chores?
I shall tell you.
This idiot rooster, hatched by a rogue Rhode Island Red hen this summer, has refused to be in the coop his entire life. I have sporadically gone rooster catching (when the rooster is roosting is the only way you can catch him) and attempted to integrate him into the coop, but it has never worked, not even when I locked him in for several nights in a row. And so I have left him to his own devices.
Until the cold was nigh.
Right until last week, we had enjoyed an unseasonably warm winter (50+ degrees right up until Christmas) and then the dreaded “polar plunge” arrived. And so for several nights prior to Christmas, I went and caught, then deposited this rooster in the coop-lest he freeze. Because, you know, I care.
During this stretch of nightly grabs, he began moving his roosting spot in an attempt to outwit me and remain outside. Armed with a headlamp and a fair amount of innate stubbornness, I kept hunting him down night after night.
But about 3 days ago, I lost track of him. Between my energy being sapped by bronchitis and the extreme cold, I had limited physical resources for extended nightly hunts. But he was surviving the cold because by mid afternoon, I would find him pecking in the grain around the barn.
It was -7 with a -23 windchill when I went out to do chores this morning and nobody was moving. I had decided to start haying the steers in their shed to keep them out of the wind and when I went to dump a bale of alfalfa in there who should flap out of the rafters? This guy. And now I knew his new hiding spot. Bwahahaha.
So I waited until well after dark tonight and geared up. It’s brutally cold outside and going to be even worse tomorrow, so it was now or never.
One of the prerequisites for working outside in this kind of weather is LOTS of layers and one of the downsides to lots of layers is an absolute lack of mobility. Once fully geared, a person mostly just becomes a penguin with less style.
I waddled out to the cow shed and located my quarry in the rafters. It’s not a tall shed but he was right at the highest peak of the building. The only way I could reach him was to climb the divider fence in the middle...in my swaddling layers...with my -18 degree stiff limbs. Did I mention the divider fence is made of wobbly cattle panels? Yeah.
You can probably imagine how well this went.
I finally made it to a spot where I could somewhat balance and still reach him and was ready to make my move when I felt something poke me right in the butt. It had to be a pretty hard poke for me to feel it through the layers and with zero peripheral vision, I couldn't see what it was. Sure enough, I turned my head and there was one of the steers (the one with HORNS) in the classic cow “I wanna play” position (which incidentally is almost identical to the same position in dogs).
I did not want to play.
I wanted to get the %^^#^^%# rooster and go back inside. The stream of steer-directed expletives leaving my mouth left the wayward bovine momentarily stunned, during which I whipped around (as much as a 36 year old women in 18 layers of woolens can “whip”), grabbed the rooster and pretty much just flopped off the fence like a beaching whale.
Lucky for me the rooster immediately starting screaming up a storm which distracted the steer a moment longer so I could scramble to my feet. I may have then used the flailing and screaming rooster as a jousting stick to ward off further steer playtime and made my way as quickly (see slightly faster waddle) to the gate. Once on the other side, I left the a**hole steer a few more expletives about how good he is going to taste in a few more weeks and went to the house.
After covering his comb with vasaline (to help ward off further frostbite), the dumb rooster got deposited inside the main barn where he will be unable to escape until I let the whole herd out in a few days. God willing, he will see the error of his ways and rejoin the flocks. If not, this may be where we finally let evolution take its course. ?