I never knew who my actual mother was. It could have been Brownie, Fancy, Feathers or Capricious. They all looked pretty much the same to me. Still, Capricious was always Mom to me. She was the one who sat on me for 21 days and taught me how to feed myself. There was no question about the identity of my father, though. He was the flock rooster and he taught me everything I knew – which was considerable for a young rooster.
I never gave a thought to why there was only one rooster in our flock - other than my brother and me, of course. I spent my days scratching around with Mom and my siblings, searching for grasshoppers and practicing to be a flock rooster like Dad. He never said so, being a chicken and all, but I think he was proud of me in his own way. I tried to do everything he did – even crow. He seemed amused by my antics until I started calling the hens when I found food. Apparently that was the flock rooster’s job. Who knew? Well, I did after he chased me around the yard a few times and flogged me with his wings. Okay, okay – I get the message already.
If I had a name back in those early days, it must have been Shoo, because that’s all I ever heard anyone call me – except for Mom, of course. I was one of six chicks, and possibly her favorite. I’m only guessing, but she certainly spent more time perfecting me than any of the others.
A human hen came out regularly to feed us and give us water. Everyone went running to her when she arrived morning and night. She always had some kind of treat for us. Mom was cautious of the human hen, though. Every night when she fed us, she would take all the eggs away. Then, when one of the hens decided she wanted to set, the human hen gave some of them back. We never knew what happened to the other eggs. Maybe she gave them to some of the chickens down the road. We could hear them cackle and Dad would have crowing contests with their flock rooster.
From the beginning, I liked to explore. Mom said that I was a throwback. I was a bit concerned about my destiny until she explained that it was a term that meant you were like your ancestors.
I came from good stock. My ancestors immigrated to the United States from Holland way back in 1928. We all looked pretty much the same. We guys are black with blue-green highlights in our feathers, lots of copper and gold feathers on the neck and back. Being so young, I didn’t have all that yet. When I hatched, I was covered with soft fluffy down. I was a tan color with stripes on my back and head. I got my wing feathers first, and they were black. My sisters got their tail feathers about the same time as their wings, but my brother and I had to wait a little longer before we started getting tail feathers. The hens had brown feathers on their bodies and golden feathers on their necks and heads. I was beginning to notice how attractive they were when my world was suddenly changed forever.
One day, when I was about four months old, the human hen came out and took my brother away. I’m ashamed to admit that I was so shocked that I did nothing to prevent it. Neither did Dad, though he was pretty vocal about his objection.
A few days later the human hen came back, and this time she was after me. I squawked like a hen and ran all over the place, but she finally cornered me and grabbed my leg. She put me into a dark box and carted me off. I’m not ashamed to admit I was terrified. The box was so short that I couldn’t even stand up, so I crouched, hoping someone would open the lid wide enough that I could jump out. Every once in a while someone would open the box a crack and look at me as if they wanted to make sure I was still there. Exactly where did they think I was going to go?
I suppose every son must eventually leave the nest, but this was a rather sudden way to go. On that note, I had no idea where we were going. I could hear the humans making their twittering noises, and the sound of a car. I knew what that was because the human hen drove around in one. I knew some human words, but not enough to understand what was happening.
After a while, we stopped and someone lifted the box. I scrambled around, trying to get my footing in the slick box. They opened the lid a little and a human hen looked in. I’d never seen her before, but she acted like she recognized me. The box lid was closed again and after some more scrambling around, the box was quiet. I could hear different people talking.
Oh my gosh! I was being chickennapped!