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  The Golden Rooster                                                   by: Kevin Alstrup

Between Sunsets

Saturday, June 16th while having a coffee at our local Timmie's I met this great gal, carrying a 60 lb. backpack, with very sore feet. As we talked I became very drawn to her inner strength, and my Outreach experience wanted to help her. I also thought of when my daughter was walking 150 miles in England, in the 80's and of the folks who befriended her.

I offered that she might put her tent on my lawn for the night, however she had just walked through Ferris Park, and doesn't turn back. Always forward, so my next thought was of my friends Joan & Dave Lane and their beautiful yard full of trees, flowers and birds, so I immediately spoke with them and they were delighted to welcome Melanie for the night lodging.


It is interesting to note that when Shirley returned with Melanie, Shirley drove and Melanie with her 60 lb. pack walked, true to her commitment to WALK across Canada!


Because of predicted thunderstorms, I suggested that Melanie might like to use one of our many bedrooms instead of tenting in our backyard. She also thought this might be prudent. She did ask if she might please have a shower.

Once she was refreshed and sorted out, she joined us on the veranda for some wine (a nightly pastime of David and our neighbour Garth). As we relaxed, a steady stream of dog walkers passed by, the doggies getting their nightly treat of dog biscuits that Dave keeps on hand. The folk marvelled at Melanie's story and wished her luck. Garth produced a tackle box, adding a large float and fillet knife to her rudimentary fishing gear. As he suggested other bits of tackle, she refused saying that if she accepted all the things people very kindly offered, her pack would be overwhelmed. Being minimalistic was the key.


After an evening snack of a grilled cheese sandwich, cherry tomatoes and grapes, we sorted out the morning schedule. Dave and I would rise at our usual Sunday time of 6:45 (allowing Joan to play with her crossword puzzle) a little before church leaving time. It was decided Melanie would get up at 8 o'clock at which time the bathroom would be hers alone. After a breakfast sandwich of egg and bacon with coffee, and a short visit again on the porch, we went off to church, with hugs and good wishes all around, leaving Melanie to leave at her leisure, shutting the door behind.

Harking back to my Girl Guide outdoor training, I had put together a baggie of raw veggies (carrot sticks, celery, radishes, fennel) and one of nuts and dried fruits.


What a wonderful interlude in our happy but somewhat predictable lives.


Happy Trekking Melanie.


Her blog site is Between Sunsets. A Trail Story for those who wish to follow her amazing adventure.



Melanie Vogel


The time had finally come.  It had to be done.   I had to do what I had to do.  Besides, isn’t this sort of thing something I am supposed to do?  Something I am supposed to know about as a gentleman farmer?  I mean--it’s the cycle of life right?


Honestly, months later the Rooster was still keeping his watch, every day at first light—that shrill, hoarse shrieking crow that had become the very bane of my tired existence.  Finally, Catherine told me in the wee hours of a very early summer sunrise: ‘You HAVE to do something about that ROOSTER…!!’  Well, it was not like I hadn’t tried.  There was the time when I actually managed to corral him into his coop, and after much coaxing, prodding and trickery, finally got him into a cardboard box ready for transport to the livestock auction. I thought I had won this contest.  I really did.  So, feeling smug and somewhat proud I walked back to the house to find a little feed and water to keep him comfortable.  Sort of like a last dinner of sorts.  Kind of a family send off before we released him into the world at large.  Hmmmm, sort of like a fledging bird about to leave the nest.  Sure why not?!  But I turned the corner of the garage to see his bright red comb pushing through the top of the box.  I started running.  I saw his head pop up, and then one wing; and then another. 

‘He is getting out!!’

I ran as fast as I could, spilling the water and the chicken feed all over the lawn.  Catherine yelled; “WHAT are you doing?”  I tripped over a tree root just about eight feet from the box but scrambled and pounced on the box.  Too late!  He burst out of the box in the flurry of feathers, the drumming of beating wings slapping me in the face as I hit the ground.  ‘That CHICKEN…!’

Later on, in the evening Catherine asked me again: ‘What are you going to do about THAT THING?’  I cast a long, forlorn glance at the cutting block and then at the cleaver resting beside it.  I guess I have to do what I have to do….  So that night I found him roosting on top of his coop.  My preliminary bird training, gleaned from having a couple of pet budgies, taught me that birds are basically blind at night.  If I could sneak up on him and throw a towel over his head I could get him.  I would put him in the box and then I would have to take care of the situation.  I told myself—‘Remember to put something OVER the box this time!’  So I got him.  I really did.  I grabbed hold of him and put him in, feathers, comb, crowing and squawking.  Tomorrow would be the day.  I just HAD to do something. But I lay in bed all night.  Wide awake.  Tossing and turning.  There had to be a better way.


The next morning I woke, walked into the kitchen and stared at the cleaver.  I could hear that Rooster crowing in the cardboard box!  I guess he could see the daylight through the holes I made in the box?  Unbelievable.  Well, I walked right out, grabbed the box and put the entire package in the car.  Time to go.  You see it was Tuesday morning.  A bright, clear, early summer day.  I knew the livestock auction would run today.  And so I drove.  Fast.  I didn’t look back.  I didn’t even stop to adjust the top of the box when I saw him poke his head through the opening.  I didn’t even flinch, when he worked one wing lose.  I started to worry when the other wing got lose.  I bellowed at him, ‘You stay in there you troublemaker!  I am trying to do you a favour’.  I didn’t even slow down when he burst out of the box in an explosion of feathers and feed and

straw.  I figured I should make sure the car windows are closed, but does he need to wear a seat belt?  I didn’t have to time to find the answer to that question.  I arrived to find him resting quietly in the back seat looking out the window and preening himself.  The thought did occur to me that maybe he knew where he was.  He probably recognized

this place and was ready to go back to his home flock.  It was easy to put him back into the box.  He was calm, collected, and agreeable.  I picked up the cardboard box and walked over to the bird farmer.  ‘Leanne’, I said, ‘I have a rooster for you.’  She looked back at me, a little puzzled.  ‘Would you give him a good home?  He was one of yours a long time ago.’  She was even more puzzled. 

‘We bought him from you when he was a chick.  He was supposed to be a she, but….’

 ‘Oh ya, I remember him!  Sure, just put him there, under that tent.  I’ll take care of him.  In fact, where is that guy…there was a fellow just here looking for a mature rooster.  Said he grew up on the farm and always wanted a crowing rooster when he came back to the country.’ 

 ‘Well,’ I said ‘that’s the rooster for him.  He is welcome to it!’

I put my hand through the lid of the box and tapped him on the comb.  ‘Good luck’, I said, ‘and thanks for all the memories.’  I turned around and walked straight out of the market.  I didn’t even look back.  But as I was about to turn the ignition key I heard it one last time:


‘RRRR – er – ERRRRRRR!!!’ 


I floored that gas pedal and got out of there as fast as I could.