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Friday, Sep. 4, 2015
Growing up Country: Part IIPosted 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.
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."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.