ARTISTS AND BIRDS
 
by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"The Call of Roosters"

Chickens

        No doubt you have heard of the ‘Battle of the Bands’. This is where musicians are trying their best to be recognized for their talent. This morning I found that this battle not only goes on in the human population, but it goes on in the bird world. It was early morning and the light was just starting to show above the eastern horizon. I was taking my early morning walk when the ‘Battle of the Roosters’ began. The battle was roostertaking place in my neighborhood. A challenge rang out from Swaps Dr., and then another from Nashua Rd, or was it Rocket Bar? Then another on Damascus, I think. It was a rallying ruckus. We are so lucky to live in an area of open space where people can have horses, chickens, and lots of trees.

        You may not think that the call of roosters is a treat, but so many memories came flooding back, like my days growing up in St. George. We must have an ancestral memory about chickens, because for centuries people were surrounded by chickens. Chickens were the meat of the ordinary folk. When my family raised chickens we tried not to have any pet chickens or name any of them, because when it came time to have "Joe" for dinner . . . well . . . my sister wouldn’t eat chicken, any chicken, till she was 50 years old. A chicken is always a good dinner for a family. But having Beef before refrigeration, meant you had 400 lbs. of meat that had to be used before it spoiled. Chicken was the perfect meal.

        Once man domesticated chickens he couldn’t stop with them being just a good meal. Chicken breeders wanted more eggs, more meat, and prettier birds. It was important that farmers take their chickens to Shows to get bragging rights . . . that their birds were the best.

        The small flocks of chickens people used to have in their back yard are gone, except for a very few areas like my neighborhood. We now have huge factory type buildings that hold thousands of producing chickens. We can buy eggs at the a ridiculously low price. It is easy to forget that our ancestors once went to great effort to harvest just a few eggs each day for their own personal use. Stories of the early western settlements tell how fortunate you were if you could stop by a stage stop or a boarding house and have eggs on the menu. This year, when you go to the County Fair, be sure to go to the Chicken displays as there are still people raising these spectacular, beautiful birds. Hopefully, in our world, there will always be the sounds of roosters crowing early in the morning as they try to wake up the sun and make sure the day begins.

        Bonnie Roberts is the artist of the rooster, painted with color pencils. If you have questions about birds or the upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon activities (General Meeting - Wednesday, December 12, 7:00 pm at Tonaquint Nature Center with Kevin Wheeler presenting - and Christmas Bird Counts December 26, 28) , call 435 673-0996.

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