It was a sad week here at the home­stead. It started when my most beloved three-year-old rooster, T. Boone Chick­ens, devel­oped a seri­ous abscess on his big chicken foot.

I hauled him off to the vet­eri­nar­ian who anes­thetized him and exam­ined him more closely. Accord­ing to the vet, because chick­ens don’t have sig­nif­i­cant blood cir­cu­la­tion in their feet, it’s dif­fi­cult for a major foot wound to heal.

Robin, you need to put T. Boone to sleep,” advised the vet. “He’s not going to get bet­ter. In fact, he’s going to get a lot worse. And he is in pain.”

Now, if you haven’t ever had pet chick­ens, you might find it odd that I was reduced to a pud­dle of tears at hear­ing this news. Even some peo­ple who have pet chick­ens might con­sider the fact that I spent the bet­ter part of the after­noon weep­ing an overreaction.

But I raised T. Boone from the time he was a baby fuzz ball in my palm, which may account for part of why he was so tame.

I bought T. Boone and two other baby chicks from an Amish farm­ers mar­ket. I was assured that all three chicks would grow up to be fine hens. So we called him Olivia—for a while any­way. Two of the three chicks sur­vived and both were roost­ers. (So much for the chick sex­ing skills of the guy at the farm­ers market.)

T. Boone was sec­ond rooster around here for a long time. In fact, he was at the bot­tom of the peck­ing order and the hens never hes­i­tated to shoo him away or pun­ish him by peck­ing at  him. The big chicken on cam­pus at that time was Johnny Cash.

But when free rang­ing in the yard, T. Boone still patrolled and pro­tected the hens who dis­re­spected him in the coop.

Two years ago T. Boone, Johnny Cash and the hens were on walk­a­bout, search­ing for bugs, stretch­ing their legs and enjoy­ing the unsea­son­ably warm Feb­ru­ary day. I didn’t see what hap­pened, but it appeared that the roost­ers fought off an attack by one—or pos­si­bly two—hawks or eagles. Johnny Cash was car­ried off and never seen again.  There were two huge pools of T. Boone’s white feath­ers about 200 yards apart. Could T. Boone have been attacked, dropped and attacked again?

When we finally found T. Boone in the woods it was clear that he was gravely injured. He was dazed and couldn’t walk. He let me pick him up to exam­ine him and I found he had huge punc­ture wounds on both sides of his body under his wings.

I was cer­tain that he wouldn’t live until morn­ing. I didn’t know of any vet­eri­nar­ian at the time who would even euth­a­nize a chicken but I didn’t have the heart (or the nerve) to break his neck—even to put him out of his mis­ery. Nei­ther my hus­band nor my son would take on the job.

We put him into the coop where he crawled into one of the nest boxes to hide. Well, he thought he was hid­ing, but as you can see, he didn’t fit. T. Boone was a very big chicken.

Days went by and T. Boone kept hang­ing on. I gave him water, put salve on his wounds and pre­pared myself to find him dead every morn­ing I went into the coop to greet the chick­ens for the day.

Instead of dying,  T. Boone crawled out of the nest box and tried to stand! At first he couldn’t hold his head up or walk. He did a lot of stand­ing around. I posi­tioned him near the food and water so he could help him­self when­ever he was thirsty or hun­gry. After a month or so, he could stand upright again, but he walked. With a limp.

Nev­er­the­less, he had cheated death—that time.

With­out Johnny Cash in the role of lead­ing chicken, T. Boone stepped into the job. When­ever the hens were on walk­a­bout, T. Boone would be stand­ing guard. He knew full well what dan­gers the hens faced out­side the safety of their coop and chicken run. The chick­ens would hunt and peck for bugs. T. Boone would stand nearby war­ily eye­ing the sky and the woods. Any time there was a sense of dan­ger, T. would begin honk­ing in alarm, send­ing the hens scram­bling under the shrubs and into the trees.

 

He also ful­filled all of his roost­erly duties (if you know what I mean).

Some peo­ple have had bad expe­ri­ences with aggres­sive or mean roost­ers. I have seen both sides of the rooster behav­ior spec­trum and T. Boone was def­i­nitely one of the kinder, gen­tler roost­ers. He always greeted us and would fol­low me around beg­ging for treats. His favorites were corn, pizza and any kind of baked good—cake, muffins, bis­cuits, bread. He would even show up at the back door to peer in and beg.

Is this where you keep the cans of corn?”

I love my hens. But they don’t have the bold per­son­al­ity, the larger-than-life appear­ance or the endear­ingly quirky habits that T. Boone had. If you can love a chicken, I loved T. Boone.

Rest in peace, T. Boone. You were a good and brave rooster. I hope you’re in chicken heaven where the sun is shin­ing and where there is an end­less sup­ply of corn, pizza and baked goods.

 

Be Socia­ble, Share!
Robin

24 Responses to “Good-Bye, T. Boone Chickens”

  1. lindafw Says:

    He is/was beau­ti­ful. I under­stand your ded­i­ca­tion to him. I have Bag­gins a buff orp­ing­ton girl…incorrectly sexed but so beau­ti­ful and good with the girls that he has stayed. He even allows Rincewind the lit­tle Poland boy to live in the eglu cube with him and his ladies! (what a nice boy)

  2. Diana Says:

    I soooo under­stand, how these ani­mals become fam­ily, an exten­tion of you.

  3. Leslie Says:

    What a won­der­ful eulogy. T. Boone was a spe­cial rooster. We’ll all miss him and his stories.

  4. Cindy, MCOK Says:

    Robin, T. Boone was a lucky guy to be part of your flock. Hugs, dear friend.

  5. Gail Says:

    He was a ter­rific and faith­ful rooster. xogail

  6. Layanee Says:

    He was a regal bird. I love the pic­ture of him look­ing in your win­dow. ‘Want to come out and play?’

  7. Curbstone Valley Farm Says:

    I am so sorry to read about T. Boone. We’ve seen both ends of the rooster spec­trum too. Our cur­rent rooster sounds much like T. Boone. A much more gen­tle soul, often picked on by the hens, being sin­gled out by the wildlife, and he too craves car­bo­hy­drates (his favorite is fresh sour­dough bread, and tor­tilla chips). I would have scoffed a few years ago if some­one told me I’d get attached to a rooster, but they have a fab­u­lous way of wrig­gling their way into your heart with their larger than life per­son­al­i­ties. T. Boone was a very hand­some rooster, I love last photo of him, and your trib­ute to him is beautiful.

  8. Japolina Says:

    Sorry for your loss. The loss of any pet is very sad.

  9. Mr. McGregor's Daughter Says:

    I’m so sorry about los­ing T. Boone. He was quite a char­ac­ter and an awfully good rooster. You did the right thing to end his suf­fer­ing, no mat­ter how hard it was to fol­low through on that decision.

  10. Kallie Says:

    Thank you for shar­ing such beau­ti­ful pho­tos! I can’t wait to have my own chick­ens when I finally get the space.

  11. Lou Says:

    T. Boone was my favorite. Hope­fully, I’ll have a rooster like him some day.

  12. cristina Says:

    oh, RIP, T. Boone :(((

  13. Jaime Says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry! I read the title and my heart imme­di­ately sank. Your T. Boone pic­tures always made me smile and I hope to have a sweet guy like him in my flock someday.

    Do you have any other roost­ers, or was T. Boone your sole guy?

  14. Patsy Bell Hobson Says:

    I never met T. but I feel like I new him and I will miss him too.

  15. Donna B. Says:

    Robin, my heart goes out to you.
    He was a beau­ti­ful gen­tle­man. That photo of him look­ing down at the hens while he is help­ing them get at that ball of greens, that’s pos­si­bly the best photo you’ve taken of him.
    Hehe, frame it and hang it in the coop? I bet the girls would like that.
    [He has his own flock in Poul­try heaven, definitely!]

  16. Angela Says:

    What a hand­some rooster he was! What a sweet story!

  17. chicken house plans by Mark Says:

    Beau­ti­ful trib­ute. I never imag­ined that roost­ers could be such kind and gen­tle crea­t­u­ah­dar­nit I’m start­ing to tear up aren’t I…?

  18. Kylee from Our Little Acre Says:

    Oh, Robin, I’m so sorry. I absolutely under­stand the tears. I was snif­fling as I read your won­der­ful trib­ute. We have eight hens and no roost­ers, but they’ve each got their unique per­son­al­i­ties, for sure. T. Boone was a fine one.

    By the way, even though it says I’m sub­scribed by e-mail, which I’ve been for a few years, I’m not receiv­ing your updates! I real­ized it had been a long while since I’d read your blog, so I came to see you.

  19. Fiona Clayton-Law Says:

    I can TOTALLY under­stand weep­ing over a dead rooster (or chicken)…I LOVE orp­ing­tons even though they are so big and use­less lay­ers (com­pared to Rhode Island Reds…but roost­ers? Well — we had Joe for years and years and now we have Garibaldi…and he is noisy and ram­bunc­tious and rude and the NICEST choocky rooster I really do love him! My hus­band does too…but my favourite is Mrs Black (orp­ing­ton) and she is so sweet natured and fol­lows us everywhere…so yes — I totally under­stand being attached to the chick­ens which really ought to be in the hen house but they aren’t…they are usu­ally wait­ing at the kitchen door poop­ing on the pathway!

  20. Robin Ripley Says:

    Hi Kylee,

    Thanks for let­ting me know about the alerts issue. I’m try­ing to fig­ure it out. Seems the RSS isn’t work­ing prop­erly either.

    See you in Asheville!

    Robin

  21. Robin Ripley Says:

    Thank you for all your com­ments. I’m really touched that so many peo­ple share my fond­ness for chick­ens as pets.

    The lit­tle flock is doing fine with­out T. Boone, although it is def­i­nitely more quiet. The Pol­ish hens are hap­pier, I think, as he could get snippy with them when they got underfoot.

    Robin

  22. Marielle Says:

    This t bone chick is so lucky because it include here in your blog..

  23. Daylily Soup Says:

    I love your story and pho­tos of T. Boone. I had one of the meaner roost­ers from the “dark side” in my life as a child. His name was Yan­kee Doo­dle. Nev­er­the­less, he had a place in my heart. It’s nice to hear there are kind and gen­tle roost­ers as well. T. Boone was such a pretty rooster! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Daylily Soup Says:

    I am leav­ing a dupli­cate mes­sage — had to cor­rect my email address.
    I love your story and pho­tos of T. Boone. I had one of the meaner roost­ers from the “dark side” in my life as a child. His name was Yan­kee Doo­dle. Nev­er­the­less, he had a place in my heart. It’s nice to hear there are kind and gen­tle roost­ers as well. T. Boone was such a pretty rooster! Thanks for sharing.

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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