Seneca Seasons: A Farm Boy Remembers

Not all roosters are created equal. Once every few years a regal bird, so much bigger and haughtier than any other rooster, came on the farm.  I was twelve years old, when one such specimen developed out of our-300 rooster flock. This noble rooster strutted around the buildings, sporting a big bright red comb with a massive drooping wattle.  The wattle is that fleshy piece of skin hanging down under the beak and combs.  It helps cool the rooster by redirecting blood flow to the skin.

Oh, we kept our eye on this splendid rooster! He was high entertainment for us six youngest Scheckel kids living on that 238-acre farm near Seneca, in the heart of Crawford County, Wisconsin.  We simply called him “Rooster”, and Rooster ruled. Other roosters moved out of his way. Hens cowered when Rooster appeared.  My dog Browser wouldn’t go near Rooster. Rooster was invincible.  Or so he thought.

It was a Saturday in August 1954 and the whole family was gathered around the morning breakfast table. The usual routine was to get out of bed, do chores, milk cows, and come in for breakfast, and subsequently, the farm day work began.  Mom announced that we needed a hen or rooster for Sunday dinner.

I don’t recall who said it first. But Rooster’s name came up. I do believe it was brother Bob. Yes, we all agreed. It was time for Rooster to become a Sunday meal. Rooster was big enough to feed six kids and two adults. Imagine the size of his wishbone. That would be a real prize!  We gulped down our last bit of Oat-Meal, bacon, and bread.

There was a problem. Before Rooster was to become Sunday dinner, he had to be caught. That would not be an easy task. Rooster was fast. Rooster was cunning. We had our work cut out for us. Phillip went to the garage to fetch the chicken catcher. It was a tool with a wooden handle on one end and a hook on the opposite end.

We spread out and walked around the barnyard, hen house, hog house and corn crib.  We were quiet and stealthy. Bob hid the chicken-catching-tool behind his back, lest Rooster was smart enough to figure out what was going on. Perhaps Rooster had witnessed what had happened to his White Rock cousins.

Phillip spotted Rooster between the red hen house and the red corn crib.  He was majestically scratching the ground.  Phillip put out the call, “I’ve found him”.  There was an alley of about 10 feet wide between the corn crib and hog house with a fence on one side and hen house on the opposite side. To be continued.

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