Photo by Audrey Pavia
When I first got my chickens, a friend on a chicken message board warned me that the crowing of bantam cocks could be quite annoying. Unlike standard-size roosters, their crows are higher-pitched and irritating.
I was so in love with my two little roos that I thought nothing of this. How could the crow of any rooster be annoying? A rooster’s crow represented morning on the farm — the dawn of a new day. Crowing would be glorious … or so I thought.
Fast forward a few years to a small, 1/2-acre property with two bantam roosters who like to compete with each other over who can have the last crow. I wouldn’t mind it so much if they did it when I was indoors. But it never fails; they always start their competition when I’m outside getting the horses ready for a ride, and trying to have a conversation with someone.
In fact, having someone else in the yard (a “stranger”) seems to be what sets them off.
“I don’t know that person,” I can hear Mr. Mabel thinking as he sends telepathic waves to his brother.
“Me neither,” answers Mr. Molly. “Let’s go for it.”
And then it starts. First one screeching, cock-a-doodle-do just a few feet away from me. And then the response: an equally screeched, cock-a-doodle-do in kind.
This repeats over and over as I try to talk to the person standing only a few feet away from me. Even though my friend is closer than the roosters, I can’t hear a word she’s saying. And she can’t hear me. All we hear is, cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do, over and over again.
When it happened today, I got fed up. I was picking out my horse’s feet while trying to talk to my friend Cathy, who was standing right next to me. I’d start to say something, and then one of the roosters would screech.
“What?” Cathy would say in response.
“I said …” I’d reply, only to be drowned out by another crow.
It’s not like the roosters were on the other side of the yard, either. They were standing only a few feet away, looking right at Cathy, deliberately crowing as loud as they could.
After a few exchanges of “What was that?” and “I didn’t hear you,” I got fed up. I picked up the garden hose and squirted Mr. Mabel right in the middle of his cock-a-doodle-do.
The crowing ended abruptly as he ruffled his feathers and ambled off into some bushes. Figuring I had put a stop to the nonsense, I started my conversation again, only to have him respond by crowing again, this time from the safety of the bushes and out of reach of the garden hose.
That’s when I decided to give up.
“I’ll tell you the rest when we get out of here,” I said to Cathy, in disgust. The roosters had won.