Oct 03., 2016 / Being Southern
Mama and the Rooster
It happened a long time ago when I was a little boy. However, I recall it easily, especially since the story has been repeated numerous times at family gatherings. It is the kind of story that was best re-told while sitting around the dinner table when most of the damage had already been done to a great meal. There was usually an interim period after the meal and before my mother’s chocolate cake was cut, when stories would abound. And speaking of chocolate cake that delicious dessert was actually a bit of a catalyst that started the whole episode that became a story.
It was Saturday so my mother decided she would make a chocolate cake for dessert on Sunday. As she put together her ingredients she realized that she needed two more eggs. Wiping her hands on a kitchen towel, she headed out the backdoor toward the chicken coop, or as we most often called it, the hen house. She opened the gate and entered the chicken yard which was enclosed by a simple wire fence. Just about time she started up the short ramp to the nests, she felt pain and force between her shoulder blades. Our rooster who was known for being mean had spurred her and scratched her with his nails. She threw him off, kicked him, and headed back through the gate, about as angry as I ever saw her. She was mad because she had been attacked but equally upset because she was in a hurry and didn’t take the normal precautions. There was an old tobacco stick for fending off the scoundrel that permanently leaned against the fence. She normally took it inside the chicken yard when she went to get eggs but in her haste to get back to her cake, she neglected it.
I’m standing there watching the whole thing and saw my mother disappear into the house. Inside she had gone to the bedroom closet, found my daddy’s double barrel shotgun, and loaded in two shells from off the shelf. She had never actually fired it, but daddy had shown her what to do in case she needed it. She came back out and about half way to the gate she stopped, lodged the stock against her shoulder, and released two blasts toward the rooster who was over by the side of the coop. She peppered the side of the hen house with pellets but the rooster ran around the corner. Slowly, she walked to the steps, laid the gun on the porch, and sat down. She reached in her apron pocket, got out a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes that she kept for “emergency” purposes and lit one up. Actually, I had never seen her smoke. So there we sat and then she looked at me and began to chuckle.
Daddy’s grocery store was only about forty yards from us and as soon as he heard the shotgun go off he asked one of the fellas sitting around inside to watch the store while he investigated what was going on. He expected to find a dead snake or some other varmint, believing that to be the reason she had fired it. It was the only time she had ever actually shot a gun in her life. Across the path from the store lived Mary and Zelma, two sisters, who also heard the report and were headed in our direction also. Miss Ada lived further down the path from us and was outside working in her garden. She wore a hearing aid but the noise was plenty loud to arouse her curiosity.
As this quartet converged on the two of us sitting there, they discovered my mother now in full-fledged laughter and wondered if she had lost her mind. She relayed the story to all of them and they too were laughing before the meeting broke up. Miss Ada even turned up her hearing aid to get all the details. She figured this story was worth a battery. Mother went in the hen house without confrontation, retrieved her two eggs, and went in to finish her cake.
It wasn’t until two days later that she realized she had made more of an impact upon the rooster than she realized. Again, she went out to get eggs and there he was leaning up against the hen house…minus his bill. Evidently one of the pellets had rendered him unable to eat and he was fading away. Quickly, my mother dispatched him the way country folks do, and he became dinner. Mama always told me that we reap what we sow. I guess that can go for roosters, too.