All is calm, save for the 8-inch-tall Grinch


It is the season of peace, joy and perpetual hope.

Holiday lights are adorning people’s houses and downtown Seymour businesses. As the song goes, “in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

Out on the farm, the little chicken coop glows with its LED lights and the tiny conifer on the hill beacons with soft color a greeting to any who drive past. The environment almost seems pastoral, soft clucking of chickens and the occasional crow of a rooster (or two) that just has to let everyone know he is still around.

Lurking beneath this “all is calm, all is bright” exterior, though, resides a terror that is roughly 8 inches tall. He displays almost tribal marked feathers, beautiful colors of reds, yellows and oranges. He watches with keen sight all of the movements that happen in and around his A-frame coop. The two hens housed with him follow his every move, obedient to every gesture and sound he makes.

This terror I write about is Terry, a bantam old English Crele cross rooster that lives in a coop that was delivered to the farm almost a month ago. He and his gals were part of the Jackson County Public Library hatch experience this past spring, and the person who had kept them was needing to find a new home for them because she and her husband were going to be moving from the country to a more urban setting.

The lady warned me as they finished unloading the dwelling at the farm, “The hens are sweet. Terry, well, he’s a bit ‘spicy.’”

I laughed off her warning. I’ve dealt with “spicy” roosters before, most specifically in the smaller breeds. They have a Yorkie attitude, having to compensate for their smaller size by being more tenacious. Usually, they’ll jump toward me, spurs displayed and neck feathers puffed, but after a few movements, they finally give up and retreat.

Not Terry.

My first interaction with this little piece of dynamite was that evening after I received the new group of chickens. I entered the coop and saw him charge toward me, the usual puffing of feathers and the head stooped low to peck at my shoes. I gently swung my foot toward him to fend him off, and that’s when the cage fight started. Terry turned red zone at that point, spurs and claws bared and beak in full on stabbing mode.

This went on for a couple of minutes as I witnessed this little terror grabbing my pants legs and actually twisting the fabric with his beak. I could tell from the increasing level of pain I felt that he had broken the skin beneath the denim. Wanting to make the agony stop, I reached down to pick him up to stop the aggression.

Again, typically when I’ve dealt with these types of creatures before, the mere sight of my hands would cause the aggressor to run away in retreat. Again, not Terry. He then turned his attention to attacking my hands.

Fearing for my very existence by an 8-inch-tall, 1-pound Godzilla with feathers, I retreated at that point and closed the coop door hurriedly behind me. Terry, not phased by the barrier of chicken wire between his strong weapons and my now bleeding shins, attacked at the chicken wire one final time to put an exclamation point on his attitude.

Terry is way too small to put into a cooking pot, but I have some tricks up my sleeve to try and knock this little confident rooster down a few rungs over the next couple of weeks. Perhaps some shin guards will be needed also when all is said and done.

I have to say it’s a good thing for this fellow that it’s the holiday season and I’m in a peaceful, hopeful mindset. Maybe Terry will realize the error of his ways and come around. After all, didn’t the Grinch have a change of heart at the end of the story?

Until next time…

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at Send comments to [email protected]

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