Posts Tagged ‘T. Boone Chickens’

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.



Chick­ens are very dif­fi­cult mod­els. I must have about 4,000 chicken pho­tos. In 3,990 of them the chicken is fac­ing the wrong way, run­ning the wrong way or tak­ing a poop.

To pho­to­graph a chicken takes patience and Olympic-class squat­ting abil­ity. You must get down…wayyyyy down…into a squat posi­tion and stay there for about four hours while train­ing your cam­era on the chicken and wait­ing for him or her to gaze in your direc­tion. If you try and rush said gaze by, say, whistling, you will alarm the chicken into fac­ing the wrong way, run­ning the wrong way or tak­ing a poop.

So the fol­low­ing rep­re­sents about three weeks of squat­ting and wait­ing patiently. Enjoy. I have to go rub some Ben­gay on my quads now.

(You should be able to click on the photo to embiggen and see their purdy feathers.)


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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