Plucking Feathers

Susan Gutierrez, staff writer

There was this fear that surrounded me whenever I went out to the ranch by myself. There were so many things to do: run around, talk to my animal friends as if they could understand my struggles, and do labor. It doesn’t sound so fun to most kids when I was at that age, but I found plenty of fun.

Every time I would visit my father in the back, I would always carefully creep, staying far away from the roosters once I entered the area. They were often found in cages, or out in a place with rubber wiring attached to their legs, so they wouldn’t roam around freely. I would always run from them whenever they came up to me. They would flap their wings and rise from the ground. Backing away, I’d stare at the rooster as it safely landed to the ground, then I’d run to meet up with my father.

Whenever I had the job of feeding the chickens, I felt a love-hate relationship with them. I tended to prefer the nicer hens or baby chicks, as they weren’t so hostile as the roosters we had.

My father would always yap on and on about the roosters, how they were the “mean chickens,” and it would freak me out, but he told me not to worry about it. He jokingly told me he would “beat them up” for me if I got hurt.

 I admired how my father was able to be so calm while tending the mean old roosters. I would just make a run for it, as I was scared they would go after me.

He would often push me out of my comfort zone. Once, he handed me a bucket of feed and pointed towards the roosters. I was shaking. I asked him, “Are you sure?”

The thought of how they could easily pluck my fingers out and turn into a bloody mess lingered in my head, I slowly walked to the rows. Starting off, the bucket easily tried out my arms, so I left it there and grabbed a handful of feed, and started going up and down the rows, placing it in the roosters’ feeding cups and moving on to the next. Some didn’t notice my presence, which made me feel comfortable to pour the feed into their cups.

Most would bawk at me, preparing to “attack,” so I swiftly poured in the feed into their cups, pouring the feed all over the ground in the midst. I would either distract them from throwing the feed somewhere else and then giving them the entire feed in their cups once they were distracted.

As the bucket became lighter to hold, I headed towards the cage of horrors, and I ended up facing what seems like a death trap, was a fun little house to feed the hens.

I enjoyed it when they all scattered to my feet waiting to be fed. I would feed them very quickly as I could and make a run to the exit, walking all high and mighty for my accomplished assignment, I walked back to my father with an empty bucket of victory.

 My father had to go down all of the isles to fix the mess I left behind. He would scold at me and yap on and on, I ignored him. Knowing all the things he repeated, I felt the sudden urge to do better.