One of the damned roosters started it.
Trouble in the coop always starts with the roosters. They are a barely necessary evil. They all think they are James Dean and they just survived the Porsche Crash of the Century and now anything goes. Cocky bastards.
Jazzman showed up one morning for Pecker Count wearing Argyles.
Nobody knew where he got 'em. They looked brand new. Shiny almost, and believe me, he was prancing around on the drop boards and stepping in all the gooey hen crap and old pinfeathers and everything and still they stood out. Right away the Constabulary had questions. You know, the Where, the Why. They were too proud to ask How.
One set of prima donna jerks trying to regulate another set of same. Remember we are operating in a world governed by a system where about thirty percent of the physical atmosphere is comprised of chicken shit. To act surprised when most of the participants are shit headed is to be kind of a shit head oneself.
All Jazz would say was, "I need them" and then, under duress: "I deserve them." The arrogant little crapper was wearing garters to hold them up, for God's sake. I mean, he's got spindly little chicken legs. Chickens don't wear socks. Well, they didn't used to anyway.
Next thing you know, Balthazar has got a pair on. His are black dress socks. Then Flooey shows up in sweat socks and they are filthy, they are stinky, they have holes in them. They look like Wilt Chamberlain wiped his ass with them. The Constabulary called a Coop Meeting and tried to lay down the law.
No more footwear for poultry, they said. Conduct unbecoming. Right away though it was evident that the hens thought the socks on the roosters looked sexy. They made those eyes, they clucked softly, did a bunch of coo'ing. So then the farm bosses knew what the problem was. Damned hens were hot over the stocking-sporting roosters and now everybody wanted on board. This sort of roost rebellion could snowball on a barnyard. It had happened before. All the old hayseeds could recall when the goats took to shaving their beards and wearing shades. In the end the near-blind sons of bitches all fell in the well and fouled the water at the source. Damned near put the farm on the Foreclosed Mortgage List. No more goat cheese, no more goat milk, nobody got head butted. Everything broke down, economically and esthetically.
So maybe you can't fault the Constabulary for what they did. Some said it was an overreaction. Others agreed that it was necessary. Whatever you thought of it, it was hard to deny it did the trick.
Late one night the roosters got separated out. All the hens were asleep, heads tucked under wings, dead to the world. Snoozing on the roost. Half awake roosters found themselves out back in a corner of the fenced part of the yard.
"What gives?" Jazzman asked, eyes half shut.
"What the cluck is going on here?" Balthazar demanded as he yawned lazily.
Next thing you knew, the Fox Patrol was there. In the yard. With all the roosters backed into a corner.
And man oh man, did the feathers ever fly.
Next morning when the hens woke up, it was like a different coop. There were all new roosters. No more Rhode Island Red. No more Plymouth Rock. No more flashy combs. No more subversives. Nothing fancy. Just plain white leghorn roosters, looking a little stunned and starry eyed. No muss. No fuss. And no stockings to be seen anywhere.
Farmer Phil did a walk through, looked over the new crop, gave a stern eye to the hens as they huddled in the doorway of the coop. He didn't have much to say.
"Fun time is over," he did finally tell them all. "Back to work. Keep your beaks clean and nobody else has to get hurt."
So now things seem to be back to normal. No more fancy pants roosters. Everybody seems calm. But the eggs all taste like shit. This kind of stuff is bad for business, it really is.
But we all know you have to make it clear who rules the roost. The henhouse ain't no democracy. Farmer Phil ain't no Eleanor Roosevelt. He is more like Clint Eastwood, only shorter and uglier.
Farm ain't gonna run right if you tolerate anarchy from the damned roosters. Agriculture is serious business.
Steve Sibra grew up on a farm in Eastern Montana, near the town of Big Sandy (pop. of less than 1000 people). In the 1970s he graduated from the University of Montana and moved to the west coast. He has made his living by selling comic books. His work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from Amaranth Review, Peckerwood, Jersey Devil Press, Jawline Review, Fox Cry and others.