Big Red The Rooster
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H W Shelton
The sun was rising in the Eastern sky and shinning over the mountain tops as the barnyard came to life.
The house cat rose from the porch step and stretched out, flexed his claws, then sat down and started washing his face with his paws.
The beagle dog came wandering around the side of the porch, from the looks of his fur he had been out in the fields chasing rabbits again or whatever ran when he spooked them.
He just liked to run and make noise and he didn't much care at what.
The farm house was waking up and it wouldn't be long till things started buzzing around here.
The farmer's wife came out the back door carrying a basket that she would soon fill with eggs from the hen house.
She had her favorite apron on and she was humming a song as she came down the steps.
She was a kind woman with a friendly face, the animals all liked her a lot.
The cat got up and followed her towards the barn.
The farmer stepped out on the back porch with a cup of coffee in his hand, his old worn hat on his head.
He had been born and raised on this very farm and hard work was just a part of being a farmer.
Some days he might not feel like doing what needed to be done, but that didn't stop him from doing it anyway.
Today was no different and after breakfast he would get at it.
The Fox had been waiting in the bushes for almost an hour.
Laying very still on his belly, as flat as he could, so as not to draw attention to himself.
Even his eyes were almost shut and his long fuzzy tail was still as a stick.
It was almost over now.
Feeling every muscle in his body tighten, he knew exactly where his dinner was located and how far away from him it was.
Just a few more feet and his shopping would be over and dinner would be served.
He had tried to help himself to one of those silly ducks down at the pond for lunch early on this morning, but they saw him coming and swam out to the middle of the pond and floated there quacking at him.
They were lucky he didn't understand "duck" or he might have gotten a little upset at whatever they were saying to him.
But this, this was easy, he was going to have dinner any minute now!
He had to keep his eye on that big boy in the lead though, he could be trouble.
Big Red, the Rooster, didn't like being this close to the bushes.
His hens were happily eating and talking to each other as they pecked along the ground.
Everything looked fine and calm, but Big Red wasn't a calm Rooster.
His eyes scanned the weeds and bush looking for the reason why he couldn't seem to relax.
Something, he just couldn't put his beak on it.
Looking around at the 10 hens and 5 baby chicks in the brood that he was responsible for, he felt uneasy all over again. Maybe he should usher them back over toward the field and away from these woods some, at least the pasture offered an open view and he could see more.
Just back across the gravel road should do it.
He needed to get their attention first, he knew just what to do in order to make that happen.
Dropping his wings down and sidestepping toward the hens on the outside of the ring made them stop and take notice.
He kept bumping them and moving them into a tighter and smaller circle, rounding the ladies and chicks together in a small area.
Once he had them corralled, he let it be known that he wanted them back across the road by pushing the hens with his head and talking very softly to them.
The fox, seeing what was happening to his dinner, couldn't wait any longer.
He made his move!
Rising up from his crouched position in the weeds he made a lunge at the band of hens and chicks now just a few feet from him.
They scattered and ran in all directions, trying to move out of the way of his teeth that were snapping at anything with feathers.
Big red also made his move toward the fox.
With his wings down in a fighting position and crowing at the top of his voice he ran right into the side of the fox, driving his spurs into the furry side of the attacker.
The fox, surprised and dazed, stopped for a second to try and figure out just what had happened.
Big Red came again, like a whirling dust storm.
This time the spurs made contact with the fox's nose and this really got his attention!
What in the world was happening here, the fox felt extreme pain so he buried his nose in his paws trying to protect it.
This left his big fuzzy tail exposed and that was the next target of Big Red.
Grabbing a beak-full of hair he pulled with all his 10 pound weight and came away with lots fur!
The fox had had it, sticking his tail between his legs he made a dash for freedom and the woods.
Dinner didn't have to be this hard to catch and sure wasn't worth it.
Big Red stopped, letting him run.
He had done his job and protected his hens and chicks and that was all he could do.
Stretching up to his full height, on his toes, he crowed and flapped his wings to let the barnyard know that he had once again won a victory and the hens under his watch would be all right for another day.
The darkness crept in soon after the sun disappeared and the night became still and peaceful.
Crickets chirped out in the fields and frogs sang their song.
This had been an interesting and busy day and all were ready for a restful night, both human and animals.
The moon was shining almost as bright as day, there must have been millions of stars twinkling, looking down on the earth.
All was well in the farmyard, well almost!
There was this thing with the weasel.
He was sneaking around the hen house and looking for a way to get inside.
Now weasels are a problem around farms, they will eat the chickens and the eggs.
They know no fear and dogs that mess with them have been known to wish they hadn't.
They have very sharp teeth and claws to match, they are not afraid to use them.
This old weasel was looking for a late night snack and he didn't care if it was chicken or what it was.
Finding a board pulled apart on the side of the hen house was just what he needed.
Crawling through the gap was a simple move for an animal that was long and lean.
Once inside he judged that the sleeping chickens would be easy prey for such a crafty old weasel as himself.
He would just pick out the fattest bird he could find, grab her and make his move and be gone.
He hadn't figured on Big Red.
Red had been almost asleep.
He heard a noise and noticed a shadow on the wall that looked a lot like trouble.
Sitting very still up on his roost, he watched as the weasel got into position and started checking out the hens as they sat sleeping.
Now Red had been around long enough to know that a weasel is not an easy thing to deal with.
They can be a hard animal to get rid of and they can cause a lot of damage in a fight.
He figured he might need some help with this boy and he knew just where to find it.
He would have to cause a ruckus in order to get his help involved but it would be worth it.
Standing up on his roost Red started crowing and flapping his wings.
The chickens woke up, seeing the weasel they started making a fuss of their own.
Hens can be very noisy and these girls took the blue ribbon that night.
Suddenly, the hen house door flew open and there stood the farmer with his shotgun.
Now the old weasel wasn't a stupid animal, he knew what the farmer was planning to do to him with that gun and he was determined to change that outcome.
Jumping straight up at least 5 feet in the air, growling like a short bear, the weasel made a run for the doorway.
The farmer turned and fired a shot after him, that weasel broke all land speed records getting out of the yard and into the woods.
Big Red, watching all this take place from his roost, just sat right there and took it all in.
The farmer walked over and checked the hens to make sure all were okay then looked up at Big Red, still on his roost.
"You're one smart rooster old friend," the farmer said, then closed the door and was gone.
Big Red gave a big sigh of relief, told the hens to settle down and get back to sleep.
As the silence of the night once again moved in, Big Red the Rooster chuckled to himself and fluffed his wings, shut his eyes and went to sleep.
There would be peace in the barnyard tonight.
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