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June 8, 2012 Page 89

Emilio, My Rooster, My Friend By jeanelle myers

I have been asked to tell the story of “the rooster,” so here goes. A few years ago when I worked for a family as their gardener, one of my responsibilities was the maintenance of and care for a flock of chickens. My parents had raised chickens for food so each year, that season’s flock would be killed off and my heart would be broken. (This eventually contributing to vegetarianism, I think.) So I was delighted to raise chickens for eggs only. There was a flock present when I started the job but soon we needed to increase the egg count and sent for chicks. Oh boy, is it a treat to raise baby chickens, but it is a story for another time. These new ones were supposed to be all hens but we got three roosters. The two loudest singers were given away to people who promised not to eat them and because the third sang much more quietly, we kept him. He was a glorious guy! He was a Polish, had a black body with a white hat. Uncharacteristically, he was a lower member of the pecking order and never got to develop his full tail or hat, as the girls just pecked those big pin feathers out as soon as they showed up. The father and son team of Josue Senior and Junior who worked with me named him Emilio. One day one of the Josues said that Emilio had a problem on his foot. Sure enough, there was a swelling on the underside of the foot. Off to the vet we went. This astounded the two Josues who thought, I think, that this problem just signaled the need to eat him. They did not yet understand my relationship to chickens.   We put him in the chicken carrier (yes, we had

did not appreciate the constant attention. After the two weeks and the problem not solved, Emilio needed surgery. The after-care also required more soaking and bandaging. By this time, we were experts, and the two Josues finally seemed to feel just fine to be at the vet with a chicken. Emilio was still not impressed with our concern. The surgery was effective for about six months and then the swelling reappeared. Someone then told me about a vet in Southampton who knew about treating birds. Yes, he said, upon examination of the foot, that it was bumble foot and you just need some antibiotics (in large pill form). So for two weeks again poor Emilio was caught and two large pills put into his small mouth. Fortunately for all of us, Josue Jr. had had experience catching chickens and administering pills to them, as he raised special

chickens in Mexico. This treatment worked and the bumble foot disappeared, never to return. Emilio, who, I think, had never realized he had a bad foot, resumed his chicken life trying to boss the hens around without much success and seemed a happy guy. He lived for another year and then, one day, I went into the chicken pen in the morning to begin the daily routine and found him dead in the corner. When you raise chickens and do not regularly “cull the flock” (kill the old ones), they die on their own of, often, unknown causes. Yes, I have taken some of those to the vet also. They were usually not able to be diagnosed, however, and typically treated with “chicken rest” and isolation, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Emilio was different though, and when he died, it broke all our hearts.

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one) and took him to our local vet, a terrific person who takes care of my cats. He said he had not much experience with chickens but would try to treat this foot. The swelling had an opening so he told us to soak the foot in hot water for 20 minutes twice a day and keep it bandaged with antibiotic cream and to do this for two weeks. (!) So twice a day, we had to catch Emilio, hold on to him while his foot was soaking in the hot water and re-bandage the foot. The Josues, by this time, knew I was serious about treating this wound and were great assistants. Emilio, however,

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The story of my rooster, Emilio...

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Dan's Papers June 8, 2012  

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