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Growing up Country: Part II

Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010, at 7:53 PM

Since I have no actual photos of Bruce the Rooster, I have chosen a rooster with the same ATTITUDE and rural brush background. Note how high the tail is carried, a sure sign of a mean little bird!!! Bruce was actually red, gold, and brown, but all those photos looked wimpy.
The Tale of Bruce the Rooster

Bruce the Rooster may have been a little banty chicken, but he obviously was under the mistaken impression that he was in charge of this farm for a period of several months back in the early days of our life out here in the Tillman Outback. My oldest son son Todd must have been at least eight, since I remember Kristin, my youngest, playing with Bruce through the living room windows when she was barely walking. Matthew was five years younger than Todd and three years older than Kristin. That places the date around 1983-84.

The farm was a lively place back then, with cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and wild turkeys running rather rampant throughout the Tillman hills. My husband farmed, built houses with his dad, and generally left us to our own devices. I was taking a break from teaching, and it was an idyllic time of gardening, mowing hay, taking care of the menagerie of animals, reading bedtime stories, and enjoying country life.

Bruce came up to the house one day, tucked in Todd's shirt with four other little balls of fluff.

"Something happened to their mother, Mom. Can they come live up here?" Todd asked. "They were in the barn all by themselves."

How could I refuse? When chicks are that young, you can't tell which are going to be sweet, sedate little hens, raising more adorable balls of fluff -- and which are going to be irritating, obnoxious, ill-tempered roosters.

Turns out that there were three hens and two roosters. The hens were promptly eaten by hawks , one right in front of us, as we pulled up to the house from a trip to town. The hawk wasn't much bigger than she was, so he had to fly-drag her across my front lawn to a place where he could dine in peace.

I wondered why the hawks took all the hens and left the roosters, but I soon found out. For their weight, banty roosters have to be one of the toughest, meanest creatures on this earth.

Eventually, only Bruce was left. Lacking wives to terrorize, he took out his meanness elsewhere. All the dogs had to walk a wide berth around him, and if I was working in my flower beds, I was constantly on guard, lest I feel the little terror's sharp spurs and claws. A rustle in the leaves behind me could cause me to put my neck out by whirling around too fast.

My sons Todd and Matthew, who were about 8 and 3 at the time, would torment Bruce with a water hose -- then they would run jump in their "fort" to get away from him. The "fort" was nothing more than a hole out at the edge of the yard with a piece of plywood pulled over it. The boys would high-tail it across the yard, with Bruce in hot pursuit, leap under the plywood, and laugh at the little rooster, as he strutted furiously around and around the hole.

Kristin, then just a wobbley little toddler, would play with Bruce through the windows, laughing at his antics, as he tried to peck at her fingers through the screen. Ah, yes, we all thought he was "playing," but we were soon to discover his true intentions.

When the weather got warmer, I bundled her up in a little jacket and bonnet and took her out to practice walking on the concrete sidewalk in front of the house. All went well for some days, but then Bruce the Rooster seriously overplayed his hand in a most egregious manner. Creeping up from behind, he pounced on my darling baby girl and dug his sharp little spurs into her legs! Her scream of terror sounded the death knell for one brilliantly-colored little banty rooster!

A friend of mine happened to be visiting the next day or so, and she brought an army of lively, fast-running children. Counting my two boys and her three girls, we launched the assault, chasing that rooster through the underbrush behind the house, until we had run him to ground. As he lay panting, we picked him up, plopped him into a dog carrier, and sent him off to unknown realms in the back of someone's pick-up truck.

I never knew what became of him, and I never asked.

Thus ends the story of the second most obnoxious animal who ever lived on the DeJournett farm. Soon to follow: "The Tale of Billy Goat Gruff."

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Oh my, and to think the little mean fella could not even made a good pot of chicken and dumplins. Those little roosters could really be terrorists. Al queda(sp) type.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 8:41 PM

Your boys' tormenting of Bruce and then running to their fort reminds me of a similar story. When I was young, my grandparents had a an old well with a pump handle in their front yard that always had a wasp nest in it. I was such a bright young lad that everytime I visited I had to see if I was fast enough to pump the handle and then run inside before I was stung by the angry wasps! Needless to say, good thing I wasn't allergic! -- Love your last two blogs Mrs. D, hope all is well!

-- Posted by 20/20 on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 12:37 AM

Oh, the things that kids can think of to occupy their time!

When I was a kid, we had an enormous red and gold rooster which we nicknamed "The Count." He ruled the roost on a farm we rented near Pyletown, south of Dexter. I was old enough that he didn't pick on me, but he terrorized everyone else, I think.

On summer, my ornery cousin Mike came to spend some time with us, and he organized my two brothers into a counter-terrorism unit, which chased the Count all over the farm. I was furious! There wasn't much I could do about it while Mike was there, but after he went home, my brothers caught it!! (and I don't mean the Count...)

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 7:05 AM

Did you and the 'Count' ever get even with that ornery cousin? Roosters are supposed to rule the roost, as the story goes.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 1:27 PM

The only retaliation I remember as effective against my mean cousin Mike was that I very spitefully would not loan him my Hopalong Cassidy radio to listen to a ballgame he wanted to hear.

All other means of revenge were useless - He just laughed all the harder!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, May 8, 2010, at 9:38 PM

That Hopalong Cassidy radio today would be worth two fortunes. I would have thought you would have had a Roy Rogers and Dale Evans radio! Handsome dudes back then and straight morals. Limited violence except when someone was shot, but you never saw blood, those were the days of clean and entertaining shows.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, May 9, 2010, at 6:46 AM

FYI, heading north just before the Boat House entrance on same side of road about 1 mile, there are dozens of 'Bruces' roaming the farm yard. What a great sight.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, May 9, 2010, at 9:17 AM

Yeah? Well, don't stop and pick one up, if ya know what's good for ya, Dexterite! They'll claw yer face off!

I never knew what happened to my Hopalong Cassidy radio. The family moved away from the area when I went to college, so it may have even been left behind in the old house, which later burned.

More than likely, my mom tossed it in the trash, never realizing its future worth.

I had outgrown Roy Rogers by the time Mike chased the Count, and I was never a big fan of Dale Evans. She was such a sissy! I don't think she ever even shot anyone!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, May 9, 2010, at 6:28 PM

Is that a crime to not shoot anyone?? Dale was a wimp, don't know what Roy ever saw in her, he deserved better...haha. Oh well, he always had trigger.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, May 9, 2010, at 7:32 PM

Yes, D, in my early years, I definitely considered it a character flaw for a cowboy or a cowboy's girlfriend not to shoot the bad guys!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, May 10, 2010, at 6:22 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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