The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was CONNIPTION. In response I’m going to post one of the stories I wrote awhile back, and read at the POETRY NIGHT two weeks ago. I’ll embellish it a bit for today’s prompt.
See that handsome young rooster? That’s Firecracker. Raised him from a chick, I did, fed him, fussed over him, gave him lots of TLC so he’d be nice and plump come fall. He was a cute little guy back then, especially when he started following me around the yard. I’ll admit, I’m going to miss having him tagging along after me, but now that he’s full grown, he’s going to be the star of our Thanksgiving table.
He wasn’t very old when the grandchildren named him Firecracker — and we thought it was kind of a cute name, so it stuck. I’ll tell you why he got that name. Oh, yes, he can make enough noise when he wants to, like at 5am when you’re wanting another hour of sleep. But you should hear him explode when he catches sight of a mouse or rat around the chicken yard. One day the grandchildren were in the yard fussing over him like they do, when he spied a mouse in the grass nearby. They said he went off just like a firecracker and went dashing over to do battle.
He’s been really good that way. Every time he sees a rodent he goes after the thing, calling all his ladies to come help him. He has a certain kind of squawk that says, “Enemy spotted!” and the hens come running. Our dog, Duchess, dashes into the action, too, when she hears that sound. Between them all, they make short work of rodents. And what a conniption if the intruder manages to escape into a crack in the wall!
I’m thinking old Duchess will miss Firecracker. The hens will, for sure, but he’s destined for our Thanksgiving table. One can’t be too sentimental about these things.
One thing I’ve been happy about is how good Firecracker behaves when the grandchildren come over — maybe because they’ve fed him grain and other tidbits ever since he was just a spring chick. Roosters can sometimes be cantankerous, but not him. And you know how kids are: as soon as they get here, they rush out to see Firecracker. He usually comes running when he hears their voices, to see what treats they might have for him.
Maybe we shouldn’t have let them spoil him quite so much. When I told the youngest grandchild last week that Firecracker is going to be our Thanksgiving dinner she got all sober and sad-looking for awhile. I probably shouldn’t have said anything. I guess she’s going to miss seeing him around.
One of the grandsons must have heard about this, too, because he phoned a few days ago and asked, ” Grandma, are you really going to cook Firecracker for our dinner?”
“Well, yes. We can’t eat him raw.” I was trying for a little levity but by the gulp I heard from his end, I guess he didn’t appreciate my humor. So I gently explained to him how Firecracker has had a good life and now it’s time to say goodbye, because he belongs on our Thanksgiving table. That’s what Grandpa and I raised him for. This is life on the farm.
I’ve got the bread cubed and in the freezer for the stuffing. On Tuesday my husband’s going to dispatch Firecracker. I’ll tell you, plucking that bird is going to feel pretty odd — he has such beautiful plumage, you know. Oh, hang on a minute…my phone’s ringing. Call display tells me it’s my oldest son.
“Hi, Jason,” I say. “How are things going? Glad to hear it. By the way, I wanted to let you know we’re planning to have our Thanksgiving dinner at 5pm this time… What do you mean, you’re not coming? … Are you saying NONE of you are coming? But why? I have this huge meal planned…
“Your kids are all refusing to eat Firecracker. Can’t you just explain that he’s part of our Thanksgiving meal – that’s why we raised him. What are we supposed to do with him if… What!?”
I tell Grandpa about the call and he shakes his head. “What a conniption!”
“The grandchildren have all emptied their piggy banks and they want to buy Firecracker. They want to keep him as a pet, of all things, and we can just let him live here. The family is offering to bring fish for the meal—Jason says none of them know any fish.”
“If that doesn’t beat all! Guess he’ll live to a ripe old age then.”
“I’m not especially sentimental,” I tell him, “but I’ll admit I’ve gotten rather fond of old Firecracker myself. And for sure the hens will be more content having him about the place. Even Duchess will be happy if Firecracker lives to chase more rodents.”
“Guess we can do this to make the grandchildren happy,” says Grandpa. “But next year we’ll buy a bird from the store and not let them see it before it’s cooked and on the table.”