I have done battle with many creatures over the contents of my vegetable garden. Raccoons, possums, birds, caterpillars and insects, I had fought them all. I can’t say that I ever won a battle but I have fought them all to a draw. The first ripe, juicy tomato of the season is mine some years, and some other creatures the next year. I had not only fought animals but also fungi, viruses, plant diseases of all sorts. I had fought against drought, heat, cold, storms, you name it and it has attacked my garden. And that’s not to mention the neighborhood brat who walks right through the garden while dragging his baseball bat behind him.

But the one that really got my blood to boiling, the one I really hated, the one I wanted dead, was a large red rooster. Where he came from I don’t know. I don’t live in the country. Nowhere near a farm. The nearest chicken coop must be ten miles from here. But the rooster was here, and my garden was his grocery store.

“Is that a chicken out there?” Marilyn asked. I ran and looked out the window.

“That’s a rooster!” I exclaimed “Where the #%$@# did that come from?” Yes, a darn rooster was pecking at the lettuce in the garden. I ran out the backdoor waving my arms and cussing at the bird. The rooster took off, half running and half flying, and was soon out of sight. Looking at the lettuce made me want to kill that rooster. It had nearly ruined a large patch of the crispy green and red leaves. I went back in the house, glad that I had gotten rid of the feathered trespasser.

“Well, I scared the heck out of him. He won’t be back anytime soon.” I said to Marilyn. I figured that rooster was half way back to wherever he came from by now.

We were laughing about the rooster incident when we heard a knock at the back door. “Coming.” I said. Knock, knock, knock. “I said I’m coming.” I opened the door, no one there. Knock, knock. I looked down. It was that darn rooster pecking at his reflection in the storm door window. I threw open the storm door and chased the rooster again, chased him right past the garden, where I could see that he had helped himself to more lettuce and pulled up several young cucumber plants. This fight was getting personal.

“I swear I’ll get that thing if he ever comes back.” I told Marilyn as we were getting ready for bed. She said he was probably long gone by now and that we would never see him again. “Yea, you’re probably right, he’s gone.” I said. We went to sleep. The next day was Sunday, we could sleep in.

Cock-a-doodle-dooo, Cock-a-doodle-do. I jumped out of bed. It was 5:30 AM. That son of a %$&#@ was perched on top of my wheelbarrow. Crowing at the top of his lungs. Cock-a-doodle-do. I opened the bedroom window and started yelling. “Get out of here, go away, shoo.” I screamed at the bird. He jumped off the wheelbarrow, strutted over to the tomato plants and proceeded to peck holes into several of the newly formed green tomatoes. I ran down the stairs, with nothing on but my boxer shorts, ran out the back door an chased that darn bird again. He took off again, half running and half flying, all the way out of sight.

I stood there in my boxers, 5:30 in the morning, looking at what was left of my small garden. Not much. The lettuce was destroyed, most of the cucumber plants were ruined, the small green tomatoes had holes in them. The rooster had won. Every other garden pest I had fought to a draw. Not this one. I had lost the battle. I headed back to the house, head down, feeling beaten.

We never saw the rooster again. I don’t know where he came from and I don’t know where he went. I was glad that it was still early enough in the season to replant the garden, which we did.

That was several years ago, now I can kind of laugh about the whole thing. Now every pest I ever do battle with in the garden, the raccoons, possums, caterpillars, cats, I just smile and say to myself, “It could be worse, it could be that ol‘ rooster, the only one that ever beat me.”