Lately I have been hearing a rooster crowing early in the morning in the San Pablo area where I live. And last week while listening to Love FM early morning show, I heard the crow of a cock via the telephone as a country caller talked into the show. And I remembered how twenty five years ago there was crowing of roosters all over the village at different times of the early morning up until sunrise.
My first thoughts were the different theories people have given as to why they crow. Some crazy one said that they are the only ones with the balls to do so. One theory is that when there is a commotion in the fowl coup, the roosters wake up and start making noise for all the chicks to wake up and for the hens to start laying their eggs.
Then, of course, any commotion in the farm or area will arouse the roosters and cause them to crow. For example, another animal or the bark of a dog or even the cranking of a motor vehicle will wake up the roosters and set them on the crowing mode. There are two more theories and one is that roosters are territorial animals and will make noise to demarcate their territory and keep competition away. Interestingly enough the old timers of twenty five years ago said that the roosters will crow to attract the hens to him so that he could mate with them.
And since I started on a crazy note, I will end with another. The old timers used to say that some roosters start crowing at one or two in the morning to wake up the master so that he could “do his own thing”, you know? Whichever theory you believe the point is that twenty five years ago there were cocks crowing all over the village at different times in the wee hours of the morning.
Every household used to have its flock birds loose in the yard and a foul coup at the end of the yard where they spent the night or laid their eggs. Chickens were raised mainly for their eggs and they were allowed to live for a long time even if that meant not being able to enjoy them because their meat got tough. There were always some roosters for mating purposes so that the fertilized eggs could be incubated for the baby chicks. Hens were normally raised for under a year for their tender meat and were slaughtered for a family member birthday, Easter Sunday, Christmas and the New Year, or some other special occasion.
Chickens were fed with whole grain corn, left over tortillas, and some household food like bread and rice. To prevent the hens from wandering away and getting lost in the neighborhood, we used to tie a pint bottle or small weight to its leg so that it had to pull this weight behind itself. If they dared fly over a fence, we used to clip off the tip of their wings.
Was all this trouble in raising chickens worth the trouble? Of course it was. Tio Pil would use the early rooster call to get up and head to the city. The fisherman would wake up at this time to head to his fishing grounds. We all enjoyed the boiled eggs in delicious chicken “relleno”, or had the pleasure of occasionally enjoying a sunny side up egg instead of salted fish every morning. As for the chicken, when mom cooked up some special chicken dish, it was announced so that the whole family would be present for this special meal. So “Cockadoodle Doo” for the many chickens that were sacrificed in place of the fish, and thanks to the roosters for their early morning wake up calls.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist