This story has been waiting to be told for a while now.
So, my husband has chickens. He’s had them for over a year. He has 7. Or 12. 9? I lost count because they’re apt to run around whenever I try to count the beaks. That, and, well…sometimes on a farm, animals wander off or get stuck somewhere and…well, they don’t come back… :/
Bjorn had a certain special chicken, which this story’s about. And by special, I mean this bird was particularly perceptive and strong-willed (read: cunning). More on his antics in a sec. But first, for some city-girl embarrassment on my part…
I’ve known Bjorn’s chickens ever since they were little chicks! (Never mind what was technically Bjorn’s FIRST batch of chicks, which he SECRETLY bought an entire replacement batch of, without my knowing…due to an unfortunate incident with a farm cat and an faulty cage. Heartbreaking. Plus he had me totally fooled for 2 weeks until he felt he should tell me what actually happened to the first chicks. It was all in an attempt to shield me from the sad mishaps of farm animal life. Well. That’s a whole other story.)
When we were engaged, Bjorn used to call me as he was out feeding the animals and I’d hear the chicks’ cute little peeping over the phone. We’d stand there and look closely at each one, surmising about which little chick would end up with which personality (farm life, haha) and which in the group, if any, might turn out to be a rooster. Bjorn wanted at least one rooster.
Over time, they all grew up to be hens. You see, though, I failed to actually take note of this fact. I guess I figured that they all would look like hens no matter what – a deep, reddish-brown, until one of them hit puberty and turned rooster-ish. I ALSO failed to realize that when Bjorn had mentioned he may get a rooster from a friend of his, he actually DID end up purchasing one and bringing it home. Enter Lord Frumplebottom – the rooster I eventually realized was now living in the barn with the hens. I didn’t think much of it. Seriously. Lord Frumplebottom wasn’t a newcomer in my mind – he was a strutting, confident rooster who had just plain surfaced out of this group of hens. Overnight? Really, Hannah. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Let’s just say sometimes I don’t think.
Months passed. After we got over that initial Wow, Hannah, yep, we actually bought the rooster, thought, we started to notice things about Lord Frumplebottom. Like that he was always around the hens (normal, we thought). Or that he seemed protective of them (pretty normal). And he’d always quickly come to the door of the barn as soon as we entered (friendly rooster?) and made intense crazy eye contact (confident rooster?) and kept strutting closer and closer and flapping around (exercising rooster?) and was NOT frightened of us and seemed eager to peck at things like legs (also norm- wait a sec!)!! Before long, we had him pegged – this rooster was CRAAZY.
Lord Frumplebottom had some crazy ideas. Lord Frumplebottom thought he was royalty. In truth, he was magnificent – a glossy black color, healthy, and just bursting with confidence. Lord Frumplebottom thought the hens were his royal court (or slaves??) and the barn his palace. He thought the other animals were dumb peasants and that the rest of the farmyard was his fiefdom. Oh, and he also thought that we humans were vile intruders, and if we did not show him proper submission or a disappearing act, we needed to be utterly destroyed. Immediately. Upon entering the barn to do chores, you had about 4 seconds before you knew exactly where he was (ahem, it would be directly in front of you), and exactly what his decision was about your fate. Death by pecking. And a bit of scary noises and wing beating and more crazy-eye-contact from an angry chicken floating just a bit taller than you. (He didn’t like being short when confronted.)
We thought we had learned how to safely conduct ourselves around him. We tried ignoring him ignoring eye contact (ahem, me). We tried yelling “Get away!” and other intimidating things at him (ahem, my husband). We tried doing chores really fast and always wearing pants and giving the royal pain a swift kick in the tail feathers with a work boot. But this was all to no avail. He grew increasingly confident and enjoyed practicing his warrior fighting techniques out on us.
My mother-in-law fended him off with a shovel, with little success. He kept pecking crazily. He even trapped my sister-in-law in the goat pen and laughed wickedly (well, I’m pretty sure he would have if he could!). Then came the time for my own personal standoff with Lord Frumplebottom.
Bjorn was a hundred yards away, feeding the horses in their building. I had volunteered to take care of the animals in the barn..something I enjoyed. I creaked the barn door open, greeted by the pungent smell of hay and the chatty goats. The hens were wandering around the barn, scratching in the hay like usual. I turned on the water pump as I scanned the barn for his Highness, and the sound of water filling the pail brought me to Lord Frumplebottom’s full attention. I can remember exactly where he was standing – he was blocking my path as I sloshed my way over to the alpacas’ pen. I tried to walk past him but he sidestepped in that cocky way so he was still in front of me. My heart started beating fast and I gingerly set down my pail behind me. And that’s when I made the mistake of making eye contact.
Lord Frumplebottom fixed his eyes on mine in a malevolent stare. Seriously, his eyes turned a creepy dark red. It was right then that my heart jumped…for in those eyes, I saw not a “challenge” from a dumb bird, but an actual evil glint that said “I am coming for you.”
I had been mentally planning my quick escape for a couple minutes by then, so when my adrenaline spiked I did what seemed to be the best option: I turned around and bolted for the barn door, forgetting to water the alpacas (sorry, girls!). I felt a little silly and dramatic as I burst outdoors again, all out of breath. That dang rooster probably didn’t care about me and what I was up to anyway, right? I glanced back. Much to my dismay, there behind me was a large, very-ruffled-up rooster emerging from the barn. Lord Frumplebottom meant business. I started jogging around the side of the barn towards the horse barn to tell Bjorn about my close call with the beast. While jogging, I glanced back once again just in time to see a black head pop around the corner of the barn, just like a cartoon! Lord Frumplebottom had not only chased me out of the barn, but he was bound and determined to chase me around it and across the farmyard. He had not lost that evil glint in his eye, nor had he slowed down. I went from jogging to sprinting and let out a shriek. Bjorn and the horses looked up to see a semi-hysterical young woman bolting towards them, with a black rooster running and flapping close behind. I continued to shriek for my husband. Hopping up into the horses’ pen is what saved me – that and Bjorn chasing the rooster 50 yards back until he disappeared behind a silo. His evil laughter echoed over the farmyard (just kidding..).
While I am happy to say I was not personally pecked by Lord Frumplebottom, he had gone too far. We humans could not easily forget his evil actions – we eagerly swapped our stories of close encounters and continued to do so once my oldest sister-in-law got home from veterinary school.
What Lord Frumplebottom did not know was that when my oldest sister-in-law was home, he was no longer in charge. The tables had turned. And before long, we had decided on his fate. My sis-in-law sharpened a hatchet (you heard me right) and donned gloves, and then three of us solemnly marched out to the barn. I won’t include all the farm-y details…but I will say that what occurred that afternoon was something that had to be done.
And thus ends the tale of the one and only Lord Frumplebottom. I wouldn’t really say this is a tribute (see Lord Frumplebottom’s earlier actions). Finally, though, his evil reign is over. Who knows, maybe all he wanted from us was a low bow and a murmured “Your Honor.” I guess we’ll never know the key to satiating that dictator. What we do know is this: the kingdom and all who live in it are truly safe now.
Whew. That was the first chicken story I’ve ever told. I kinda liked it.
But not enough to warrant getting another rooster…