It was decided that the trans-hen-der chicken-that-is-really-a-rooster could not go be sent to the crock pot without a revolt from this vegetarian and that little boy.
Then it crowed at 6:10AM, waking the boy again. I started thinking. Humans have eaten animals for centuries. Although I, myself, can’t put a bird on the chopping block, would I be morally responsible giving Cranky the Hen-Now-Rooster to someone else, suspecting he’d be renamed Crock Pot?
I remember the lobster story, how my parents killed and ate my pets, and I decide Declan must buy into this trade or I will have a bad mom story hanging over my head for all eternity.
I hatch a plan. We’re going to visit our favorite farmer–the perfect ally.
“Is Frosty here?” Declan scans the cows as soon as we jump out of the car. Frosty the Cow hated Declan. Frosty was a smart cow. He didn’t like jumping, screaming boys. He stayed as far away as possible, snorting when cornered.
“Frosty’s in the freezer. We ate him long ago,” said the farmer.
“Yes,” Declan cheers. He loves this farm, but Frosty was his arch nemesis. I hope this becomes his underage middle school job–I’ll even subsidize his pay. Every kid needs a hard job in life. It sets them up to take the world seriously.
He’s not distracted, though–he’s still prepared to defend his rooster.
“Look at these chickens, Declan.” The farmer shows Declan some beautiful chickens. Fleur-de-something-French. I didn’t catch the full name. There’s a whole flock of them, bred for competition. They are the most beautiful chickens I’ve ever seen. They are little, smelly mosaics of color, flapping around the coop waiting for blue ribbons, a little too close to the meat birds for comfort.
“Wow, this one doesn’t have an eye…that’s cool. Can I hold it?” The eye’s been pecked out by another bird.
“Declan, remember about the rooster. He needs a new home. He’ll be safe here.” “Safe” being a relative term. I’ve told a little white-rooster lie. He’ll be safe for a few Declan visits, then he’ll blend into the flock. Soup.
“Safe for now,” the farmer whispers. We’re on the same page.
I see Declan preparing his rooster defense. All of a sudden, he makes a pitch.
“Can I trade you for a cat?” he asks. I’m tempted. I love cats, too.
“Dad hates cats,” I say. This isn’t about getting a couch-eating animal. It’s about rehoming the 6:10AM alarm clock.
The farmer, not to be out negotiated by her future farm hand, counters. “What if,” she asks, “I trade you two of these chickens for your one rooster?” I get the sense these beautiful show chickens are not high on the farm food chain, but they are pretty.
“TWO?” Declan asks. “Two chickens for one rooster?” He is repeating in case she made a mistake or failed math. She has not failed math. She’s thinking of cost of feed vs. practicality of these chickens. Plus, she likes Declan a lot. Declan jumps up and down. “It’s a deal! Wow, Mom, two chickens for one rooster!”
He can hardly believe this deal. He is one step closer to outnegotiating Donald Trump. He’ll have that tower named after him yet.
Of course, he hasn’t asked any of the key questions like “Do these chickens lay eggs?” or “Will my larger chickens peck them to death?” All that matters is he got two birds for the price of one.
Declan has made the “Art of the Deal” come true.
That is the story of how we narrowly avoided having Declan hate me forever and accuse me of killing his chicken, even though he eats chicken nuggets at school. He is one step closer to a valuable career in business and negotiation, and he will have two of the prettiest chickens in the world who will lay tiny eggs, just in case he needs a snack before his next deal.
And now, I look up from my coffee and writing. It is 6:10AM. The last 6:10AM of crowing, for Cranky the Rooster will be going to his new home today.