January 14, 2018

The speedy little rooster darted past me, flapped wildly and left behind him a trail of feathers. He stopped mid air and fell flat on his face, while cawing and making extremely loud noises. Just as I bent down to pick him up, he jumped, wings stretched out as far as chickenly possible, and flew right over my head.

You’re probably wondering how I came to be racing a rambunctious rooster around my yard. Well, at that very moment, I was wondering the same thing.

My two siblings and I, whose names are Henry and Matilda, got our chickens in May, and we named them Mr. Squiggles, Ham, Jumper, Piper, Bing Bong, and Sunshine. Out of all of them, Sunshine was the loudest, the biggest, and the one that would peck anything that got in her way, unfortunately including fingers. A better name for her would have been Enihsnus, for she was definitely the opposite of a ray of sunshine.

Months later, after the chickens had been moved outside to live in the coop, I woke up to an extremely unpleasant screeching outside my window. It sounded like someone had been racing down our driveway, slammed on the brakes as to not crash into our house, and screamed, all at the same time. 

I jumped out of bed to see who had been murdered,  raced down stairs, and through the kitchen. Then I heard it again.

“Cock-A-DOODLE-DOO!” Cock-a-doodle-doo? A rooster?! I thought.

And that is how we discovered that Sunshine the chicken was a rooster. What a great name for a rooster. I almost feel bad for him. Almost. That would explain Sunshine’s hogging the food, pecking the other chickens, and ramming into my feet when I went out to feed him. After that day, our entire neighborhood awoke to the extremely unpleasant screeching outside their windows each morning. That mischievous little ball of feathers would have to go. Very soon.

I walked down the olive green stairs leading to our yard, surrounded by tremendous towering trees, damp dark dirt, and loads of lifeless leaves. The chicken coop is off to the side, next to our playset and trampoline.  My parents stood next to it and were speaking to a man wearing a baseball cap and jeans, looking around sixty years old.

We had been talking about getting rid of our loud, mean, obnoxious rooster for a month or so, and it had almost resulted in locking him out of the coop for the coyotes to get him while we were on vacation. That  when we were pulling out of the driveway and he started screeching at the top of his tiny chicken lungs. I was in awe, because he got upset without having his fellow chickens near him, and yet, he spent half of his time pecking out their feathers,  shoving them out of the way, and hogging all the food.

We also almost gave him to a friend, who had wanted a rooster for a while, but changed her mind when she saw how horrible he was to other chickens.

We eventually found someone who would happily take the rooster, and keep him at his farm.

I figured that the man who was talking with my parents while gesturing to our chicken coop was the lucky one who would have to start waking up at six thirty every morning to Sunshine’s cock-a-doodle-dooing. I went over and joined them. Mr. Chicken-Man was talking to my mom about oyster shells or something, and how they helped the chickens produce eggs.

I zoned out of the conversation and looked behind Chicken-Man at the coop. One of the many naughty things that our chickens do is to stand on the gate that surrounds the coop, and kick open the door for the other chickens to escape. Of course, right as I looked over at the gate, I saw Sunshine, doing just that.

“Well,” I thought. “That makes catching that naughty little thing so much easier” I glared at Sunshine, and then shook my head as I realized I was talking to a chicken. I don’t know how this is possible when you have a beak, but he seemed to smirk at me as he strutted away, seeming satisfied with his handiwork. I couldn’t wait to see his little face begging me for help when Chicken-Man drove him away.

“Alright, let’s catch a chicken!” Mr. Chicken-Man’s voice brought me back to reality. I looked around quickly, and saw a white flash out of the corner of my eye. Sunshine darted into the forsythia bushes and disappeared.
“Sofia,” my mom said, “go around the coop and get him into the yard.” I sighed, not wanting to go into the woods for fear of the evil poison ivy that lives in our backyard, but I obeyed, and stepped through the branches and crunchy leaves. Flip-flops were a bad choice, I soon decided. I grimaced as prickly vines scraped the tops of my feet. I found Sunshine there, who was happily pecking away at a few terrified ants.

I reached out to grab him but he skittered away out through the prickly bushes into the yard. I squeezed out through the tangly vines, trying my very best not to touch the poison ivy that lurked below me. When I got out, brushing the leaves off of my clothes, I saw Mr. Schweppe, our neighbor, in the yard. I watched, holding back laughter as he, my mom, my dad, and Chicken Man desperately tried to catch Sunshine. I glanced over at Henry, Matilda, and Logan Schweppe, who had mysteriously appeared in the time that I was in the bushes. Henry thought that the fact that our rooster would have to be put in a bag was the funniest thing in the world, so he had his ipad ready to take pictures. Matilda and Logan just stood, looking like they didn't know what to do.
“Can two of you hold up that net over there?” asked Chicken Man. Matilda and I rushed over and held up the two opposite ends of what used to be our trampoline net, which had gotten ripped a number of times two summers ago. The crazy, out-of-breath rooster darted back and forth between the net and the line of adults, who were slowly creeping toward us.

“Now!” I shouted to Matilda, dropping the net. Matilda stood there doing nothing. I sighed with disappointment as Sunshine backed away, darting into the woods. Then Matilda dropped the net.

In the woods, and back out of the woods, then back in, then back out. We chased that slippery rooster all day long. (At least that’s what it felt like.), But when we finally did catch him, everything sort of happened at once: Sunshine ran through my mom’s legs and she screamed, which gave me the perfect opportunity to grab him. I missed, but Matilda managed to shove him through the gate. Sunshine ran into the coop and I winced as I heard him bang into the wall.

“Alright,” said Chicken Man. He handed an empty sack to my dad. “Hold this open when I come out.”

He went into the chicken coop, ducking his head as to not bang it on the low door.

“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” I heard crashes, booms, screeching, and a fluttering of wings coming from inside, like in a cartoon scene where the main character roller skates out of control and into a broom closet.

But when Chicken Man came out, he was not the one with stars rotating around his head. He stood triumphantly, holding an angry rooster by the legs. Sunshine flapped around for a while, spewing feathers all over Chicken Man until he realized his situation was hopeless. The moment he went into that bag, a great round of applause erupted as all of us, sweating in the heat, celebrated our victory against, well, a chicken.

Chicken Man drove away with his new rooster in the front seat. I wave goodbye, knowing that all of us were happy now that we had gotten rid of Sunshine without feeding him to coyotes. As my rooster drove away down the driveway, I thought about how happy Sunshine would be in his new home, and how happy I would be tomorrow morning when I could sleep in until ten, without being woken up by---then I remembered: tomorrow was the first day of school!

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