If we hadn’t seen it for ourselves, we never would have believed it. Our glorious white rooster, Julius Caesar (our first born chick this year whom we named Julie… until ‘she’ began to crow) was found. Alive. After missing for over a week! We have to thank our friend Rory, a fellow Waldorf kid and big sister of Elihu’s classmate Fiona, for finding him. Poor thing had become trapped underneath an overturned milk crate in the run and had somehow survived – since October 25th – on nothing but what he could eat and drink within his tiny confines. This miserable creature suffered torrential rains, our first frost and all-out starvation. That he lived through such prolonged hardship is beyond my understanding. But I will say that from chickhood he quickly rose to near-alpha male status and made his presence known in the flock. He was on the edge of annoying; leaving the poor girls no peace, crowing twice as frequently as any other roo, and actively challenging the other males to fights all day long. (Finding his male counterpart name was easy!) But for as bothersome as he was, it was precisely this fighting attitude which I believe carried him through his prison term. I do not think another chicken would have made it.
He weighs far less than he did – it seems he’s lost nearly half his weight this past week – but he ate ravenously when we fed him, and in just twenty-four hours he’s come a long way. He is recuperating in the bathtub on a cozy towel, with food and water near and the room made nice and toasty for him. He is still weak, and has fallen over a few times, plus he seems to have a head cold. But I’m ready for all of that – over the past couple of years I’ve assembled a tidy little first aid kit for ailing birds. Since he’s eating so well I’m relieved not to have to inject medicines down his gullet. Instead, I mix it all together in a high-protein mash. I know he’s getting what he needs, so now it’s just a matter of time before he’s out chasing the girls again.
I realize it might seem kinda strange to know that we’re essentially just restoring him to health and fattening him up in order to kill him. Cuz that is what’s gonna happen. But the more important thing here is that we offer him comfort. Our goal is to give the animals we eat happy, healthy lives – and a swift, humane dispatch. And it warms our hearts to know that he’s better, that he’s safe. Strange as it may seem, we’re not conflicted about it. We’ll treat Julius Caesar like the royalty he is until the very end. And for now, the end isn’t upon him quite yet.