For just a second, the older gentleman standing at the base of my front steps had to be wondering, “Is he gonna say something? Why is he just standing there?”
I was just standing there because I couldn’t remember where to find the quote. Argh, I hate it when that happens. I’m in a situation, and I can’t remember the exact wording of the appropriate quote, and–even worse–I can’t remember where to find it.
Okay, after you’re done reading this, if you’ve never read Billy Collins’ poem, “Forgetfulness,” check it out. I’ve put the link at the bottom of this post.
Anyway, the quote. I couldn’t remember the quote. It’s in one of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell books, and it’s spoken by Sherlock Holmes regarding Mary’s farm manager, Patrick. Patrick, it seems, is not one to fuss, and Holmes believes not fussing to be one of the highest qualities a man can have. Wow, it’s a good line, and I could have stood there for a long time and still not have found it.
The quote I couldn’t remember came to my mind (well, almost) because I was standing, rather impolitely I’m afraid, with a man who seemed to not fuss very much at all.
Mr. Danny (“Just Danny,” he told me) had just put one of our roosters into a cage and was getting ready to leave with it. No problems, and no fuss. Danny is a chicken man.
We–my wife and I–have chickens in our back yard. The flock is only 11 chickens, well, 10 now, and they’re all about six months old. We’ve had different flocks for about 12 years now, and enjoy them a lot. We don’t eat them as I don’t think it’s worth cleaning up the mess of plucking and processing, but we do love their eggs. And, we think they’re cool.
Normally, getting a new flock for us involves a trip to the feed mill to pick up chicks (lots of dad joke fodder there). The chicks we usually buy are “sexed;” we know we’re getting young ladies. Last fall, though, we decided to do something different and get some bantam chickens in addition to our common, full-sized birds. Banties, though, are sold in what’s called a “straight run.” That means you don’t know the gender of the birds you’re getting.
By the way, there’s no charge here for the chicken lingo.
Not knowing the gender, well, that’s a bit of a gamble. We did fairly well, or so we thought: it looked like we had all hens.
Then one of our chickens hit puberty. Roosters really do sound funny as they’re learning to crow. It’s more of a squawk to start out. The little guy would give it his best, bless his heart, but he’s good now, as our neighbors can attest.
Then–oh, my gosh–another bird started picking on the rooster. Okay, that was odd. Why was she picking on the rooster? Well, it’s because she was a little boy, too. Two roosters.
The first rooster, Cruella (he got his name when we thought he was a girl–guess what color his feathers are) has worked out okay, but the second? Not so much. Remember the “picking on the rooster” thing I mentioned? He sort of transferred that attention to us, and, well, that’s not going to work.
Enter Danny, the chicken man.
I don’t know Danny at all, but my wife knows he’s the one to call if you’ve got birds that are ready to be passed on to a new home. He buys and sells birds at the local flea market, and chickens are what he does.
So, after a brief phone exchange a few days earlier, he was at our house just after dark. Chickens are easy to work with after they’ve roosted for the night, so Danny picked that little guy up from the roost, carried him to the front yard, and put him in the cage for the trip home. No fuss at all.
That rooster (whose name, by the way, is Rooster…his original name faded away after we knew the deal) is a beautiful bird, and I don’t doubt it will be just a short time before he’s at a new home ruling his little corner of the farm yard.
Here’s that poem. It’s one of my favorites! https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/37695/forgetfulness