BERKSON: Man Socks Rooster

GUEST COLUMN

Man Socks Rooster

Geezbrook’s happy now.

Last late fall, I was getting ready to box up my chickens and take them to Knight’s auction in West Winfield so that we would be free to spend some time in sunny Florida.

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appears in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

My neighbor, Jim, who lives across the road, surprised me when he offered to keep my birds in his coop for the winter. “Why would you want to do that?” I asked.

“Body heat,” was Jim’s answer. “The more chickens in my coop, the warmer it will be.”

Jim raises Bantams and their diminutive and less heat-producing size would allow plenty of room for the heat of my Golden Comet hens and my big white Leghorn rooster.

Actually, I was concerned that the much larger chickens would abuse his little birds – especially my rooster, who had spurs at least 3 inches long. To ease my mind I went out to the coop that night, got a hold of Geezbrook, the rooster who’s as blind as a bat in the dark, and trimmed about an inch and a half off of those tines of his.

I was surprised when the next day we released the chickens in Jim’s yard and two of his Bantams immediately attacked my high-stepping rooster, who always looks like he’s climbing stairs.

Incredibly, he cowered into a corner, but what was even more surprising is that my hens came to Geezbrook’s defense and fought off the bantam roosters.

After a couple of days the newcomers were accepted and things settled down.

All my chickens made it through the winter and, according to Jim, they produced eggs prolifically.

Now back in my yard, the hens who had come to Geezbrook’s defense started picking feathers from his neck to such a degree that all that was left was a 3-inch length of his bare red skin.

Could it be because he proved to be a “woose” when the bantams attacked him?

I didn’t think so. Maybe it was the hens’ way of flirting with him, but in any case he looked so bad that I had to do something about it.

I have a drawer full of single socks that somehow lost their mates somewhere between the trip from the hamper to the laundry room. I accuse my wife Alice of being careless with the cloths. She accuses me of not putting pairs in the hamper.

Anyway, I use the unmatched pairs for sleeping socks in the winter and, because I have restless-foot syndrome, many of the heels have holes in them, rendering them useless even if a mate is found.

Why not cut the toe off of one of these socks and slip it over Geezbrook’s head to protect his neck?

That night I went out to the coop with a toeless sock I had cut with a pair of scissors. Alice went with me because I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to slip the sock over Geezbrook’s head – especially because we would have to turn on the lights so we could see what we were doing.

I snatched him off his perch and held the rooster down as Alice slipped the sock into place while mumbling, “Sounds like a man bites dog situation.”

The procedure was a success – in spite of the rooster screaming bloody murder.

Minutes later, there he was back in the coop with his vulnerable neck protected. He tried to work it off but the elastic on the relatively new sock was holding.

For the next couple of days, Geezbrook was no longer henpecked. I was proud of successfully executing my idea.

Then, Alice walked out to the coop one afternoon, gestured towards Geezbrook and said, “I found the mate to that sock.”


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