Monday, June 1, 2009

Of Chickens and Children....

For the last two weeks or so I’ve been getting up at 5:10am everyday. Not by choice. I am an early riser, but that’s early even for me. The reason I’ve been getting up so early is that every morning at 5:10 our baby rooster starts crowing. He is not our only rooster, but the other roosters are shut up in the dark of the hen house until I deem it is truly “morning” and let them out. The baby rooster lives with the other new chicks in the chicken tractor which sits in clear view of my bedroom window. Now, if you’ve never lived on a farm you wouldn’t be aware that roosters don’t necessarily say “cock-a-doodle-doo” in that lovely sing-song-isn’t-it-quaint-to-be-on-a-farm way, especially when they’re just getting started. This particular rooster says basically, “ark-doooooooo” really, really loud starting at 5:10 and continuing at irregular intervals all day. Another myth is that roosters only crow at daybreak. In reality they crow each time they are startled by anything – the sun rising, a bird flying by, another chicken crowing, or a blade of grass shifting.

So each morning at 5:10 he says “ark-doooooooo” and wakes me. I curse and wake my husband (his sleep is rarely disturbed by crowing roosters or crying children, bless him). Then I explain all the things I’d like to do to that rooster – cook him for Sunday dinner, leave him out for the foxes, deposit him in an empty cart in the cart return at Walmart, make a little extra money by putting him in with the big roosters and taking bets on how long he’d last. My husband just tells me to go back to sleep, which I would do IF THE DAMN ROOSTER WOULD QUIT CROWING! I’ve called pretty much every chicken person I know who might take this rooster and found no takers.

So I’m sure at this point you’re not feeling sorry for me and you’re wondering why I got the rooster in the first place. I didn’t get the rooster. I got a cute little yellow chick that my daughter hatched at school for the embryology project. And of course this rooster has a name, Star. And of course, she won’t hear of us eating Star for supper.

I was beginning to live in the zone much like the one you live in when you first bring a baby home from the hospital and becoming more sleep deprived and irrational as the days wore on. And then yesterday I was at Camden Yards trying to take a nap on my husband’s shoulder while watching the Orioles lose miserably to the Detroit Tigers (I’m not sure why anyone pays money to watch either of these teams play), when a friend spotted me and stopped to talk. She asked why I was so tired, so I bored her with my rooster issue. When I finished, she said, “Why don’t you get some ear plugs?” Wow. How can anyone be so brilliant? And why had I not thought of this? Ear plugs! Here I was scheming on all the ways to kill this rooster without incurring the wrath of my daughter and it’s as simple as ear plugs!

So today I’m rested. I can see clearly and think a bit better too and I realized that there’s a great lesson here. A lesson I should have learned by now. You can’t change other people (or roosters) and while you could kill a rooster, society frowns upon killing other people, so your only option is to change how you react to them. Instead of killing this rooster, I can wear ear plugs. Much more peaceable solution.

I think the same lesson can be applied to children. As I look down the barrel of a long summer that starts this Thursday, I’m already cowering at the thought of unending days filled with my children whining and fighting. I can’t stop my children from whining or fighting any more than I could stop that rooster from crowing. So maybe the only thing I can do is change how I react to them. I know from experience that reasoning with them draws only blank stares and a pause before the next onslaught. Yelling gets me nowhere and only adds one more angry voice to the mix. I don’t know what I’m going to do differently, but I know that the answer won’t lie in changing their behavior, but in changing mine. Maybe I’ll sing show tunes at them or hum the same annoying tune my daughter hums when she’s trying not to hear one of her brothers. Maybe I’ll walk away. Or maybe I’ll just put in my new ear plugs.

Note: The winner of the Ecostore giveaway was Susan Robinson!!


  1. Everyday I look forward to your observations of country living. I too had a similar experience from sleep deprevation when I rented a house while living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    I was awakened every morning by the call to worship at the local mosque. The Adhan which is broadcast from a minaret or sung by a muezzin (the person who calls the Adhan) at dawn everyday, is in aribic and loud. For the dawn prayer, the muezzin adds, "Prayer is better than sleep".

    Funny when I stayed in hotels or looked at the house before renting it I never heard the prayers.

    I will pray for the young rooster tonight and you may find peaceful / tranquill sleep. (with or without ear plugs)

    Dave Freeman

  2. I know a guy in Jersey who can deal with this rooster guy, no questions asked. Just say da word.

    Nick "Nicadimo" Bawkstopper