Since I grew up on a farm, I don’t harbour fear of many animals. I’ve been around goats, pigs, guinea fowl, sheep, cats, dogs, and elk. However, I do feel fear and, dare I say it, hatred, of one species of animal: the chicken.
My mom loves farm eggs, so we always had chickens all throughout my childhood. Somehow, it became my job to gather eggs. I recall always feeling fear and trepidation and wanting to get the chore over with as soon as possible, probably akin to what Indiana Jones felt when he underwent the trials to reach the Holy Grail, only with less decapitation. I went in the chicken coop once with sandals, and the chickens pecked my feet so hard they bled. My mom’s unsympathetic reply was, “Well, why did you go in the coop with sandals?”
I’m not sure why I made that decision. But my fear of chickens is not irrational: not by a long shot.
When I was younger, we were the caretaker of a rooster who may have legitimately been the spawn of Satan. If he saw you, he would turn to you like the Eye of Sauron, run at you, and then jump up and slam his body into your thigh. Trust me, it’s a lot scarier when you are 11 years old and this thing is moving toward you like a demonic freight train. There were five people in my family, but I was the only one who had a problem with the rooster, I assume because I was the smallest. It got to the point where I had to devise an alternate route if I wanted to go out to the barn: I would cut through the woods, through my dad’s shop, hide behind some tractors, and climb a chain link fence to avoid him.
I feared that rooster more than I have feared anything else in my life. I would have nightmares that he would stalk me and swear nonstop at me, and I had more than one dream that the chickens all teamed up to storm my house. We had little boxes for the baby goats to play in, and I once had to curl up and hide inside one of these tiny boxes because he appeared out of nowhere. Clearly, this situation could not continue. It would have given me an ulcer.
The breaking point came the day I forgot to be on guard for him. I ran out of the barn and stopped dead when I saw his glittering, dead eyes. He looked at me. I looked at him.
And then he struck.
Now, until this point, if I screamed and kicked at him, he would eventually give up and leave. Not this time. He just kept attacking, and he was between me and the house, so I couldn’t make a break for it. I thought I was going to die out there, fighting this rooster until I dropped from exhaustion. I frantically grabbed the only weapon I could: an extremely heavy iron bar that was holding our shed door open. I couldn’t wield the bar very well, so I had to just let it drop on the rooster. Did this have any significant effect?
Of course not.
This rooster was made of steel and the tears of children. Finally, finally, my sister and brother heard me and when they saw that I was cornered, they sprinted to me, gathering rocks as they went. There is no better feeling than knowing someone is coming to rescue you. And normally I don’t condone hurting animals, but I felt nothing but relief when they pelted him with rocks and he finally retreated.
I can’t remember if I cried, but I must have appeared traumatized, because that was the day my parents went out and killed the rooster. My mom was recently lamenting his loss since he was such a handsome rooster, but I maintain she was just hypnotized by the glamour of the Antichrist.
I know the truth. He was evil.