Boomer was named by one of Linda Gail’s basketball players, Cullen Gutshall, during a celebratory gathering to honor their basketball team at the end of a successful season. Celebration wasn’t an unusual occurrence as most of Linda’s basketball and tennis teams were successful. And as usual, I had been roped into assisting. “Have spatula – will grill.” Cullen had decided, with reason, that our large, beautiful, one-eyed and one-legged Rhode Island Red looked like a “Boomer.” I would have named him “Long John Silver” or “Lucky” for obvious reasons…but I am getting ahead of myself.
We had purposely not named any of our chickens for two very good reasons. First, you shouldn’t name what you are planning to eat. Second, chickens and roosters don’t usually come running when you call their names unless, of course, you have a handful of scratch feed to bribe them with. I should clarify that in number one I said planned to eat because I am here to tell you, “We ate nary a one.” Nor did we eat any of the “meat” rabbits we were raising; however, between the rabbits and chickens, we grew wonderful sweet-tasting tomatoes using their droppings as fertilizer. Can you say “organic?”
Boomer was either the luckiest or the unluckiest animal in my barnyard… depending upon your perspective. Unlucky because he was locked in the chicken coop with his son for an entire day. Do you know what two cocks do in order to while away the hours when locked in a chicken coop? I don’t know how long they fought but when I discovered the closed door and opened it, the yet un-named Boomer quickly exited having lost multiple feathers and an eye during the fracas. He had also lost his standing as the flock’s “alpha” male. Boomer did what any loser might do, he ran away and hid. He disappeared for several days until I thought I heard what turned out to be the weakest of “cock-a-doodle-dos.” He had managed to get himself trapped in an old lettuce sack and was in the process of thirsting to death. I had to cut him out as one plastic strand had become wrapped tightly around one of his legs just below where the “drumstick” began. The normally bright yellow shank had turned a shade of sickly gray. I feared he would die from gangrene but instead, several days later, the leg just fell off and he survived! Boomer was as lucky as any one-eyed, one-legged rooster could be!
All things considered, Boomer adapted quite well. He developed a gait that involved stepping with his good leg and then flapping his wings to get him back onto his good leg. It was a “step-flap-step-flap” cadence. When in a hurry, he was quite humorous to watch and as quick as you would expect a one- legged rooster to be. Unfortunately, he was not quick enough. Normally there were two times when he was in a hurry – to get away from the younger rooster or when he was “à la recherche d’amour” …and he was always looking for love. There was a problem. All the hens knew they were faster than he was or knew that all they had to do was hop up onto a fence to escape his advances.
Hopping onto a fence was how he got his name. Cullen watched him use his wings to propel himself onto the fence between two hens. After wobbling like a broken weathervane, he fell off, landing with a thump and a cloud of dust. Cullen laughed like the crazy person she was and exclaimed, “He fell off and went Boom!” After the third or fourth time the name Boomer had stuck. Poor Boomer was no luckier with the ladies than he had been at life. He eventually arrived at the idea of hiding in the shrubbery in hopes that “une jeune fille” might happen by. If he was lucky and a hen walked by, he would explode out of the shrubs and…well this story is rated for all audiences. Unfortunately, the hens adapted and began to stay away from the shrubs. I believe I had said in a previous story that chickens weren’t too bright. I may not have given them enough credit!
I don’t remember how long Boomer lived but I’m sure it was much more than the somewhat average seven years. I am also sure that his longevity was due to the special care and love given to him by Linda Gail. Short of playing the role of a pimp, Linda saw to his every need. Extra food, yummy beetles and caterpillars, a warm place to sleep in the shrubs…I should have had it so good. I’ve always said if the Hindu’s are correct and we are reincarnated, I want to come back as one of Linda’s animals…except the beetles and caterpillars.
Late in his life, Boomer took to lying in the sun in the one spot of the heavily-treed yard that does receive sunlight for a long portion of the day. He would stretch out his wings which were still inky black and the sun would reflect off of them like a freshly-polished black car. The red, orange and yellow on his neck were just as bright as they had been years before. I don’t guess feathers turn gray like hair. Despite his bad luck he had outlived all of our original chickens. In fact, he was so old that he no longer paid attention to the “spring chickens” in our small flock. That was how I found him on his last spring day. He had died quietly in his sleep while lying in the warm sun. When you think about it there might not be a better way in the world to go…in your sleep, contented and warmed by the sun.