The Bully Chicken

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22476 – 856:

Here’s the haps:

Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt often used the phrase, “Bully for you!” This meant you had done something commendable or extraordinary. “very good; excellent.” The way we more commonly use it (in American English) nowadays is defined like Cherie White over at Chateau Cherie would use it, “one that habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.”

When I was younger than five, I don’t remember exactly, my Grandma and Grandpa had some chickens. There are a lot of details from that time period that have slipped away but we are talking about incidents that happened, what, fifty-five or more years ago? I do know that my Grandma used to sell eggs to the supermarket in town. She would give people eggs in exchange for their store-boughten egg cartons, which she would fill and take downtown every once in a while and they would put them on the shelf and sell them. “You always put the point of the egg down, Herbie, when you put them in a carton like this.” “Why, Grandma?” “I don’t know, you just do.” I still do that, whether I’m putting away fresh duck eggs from Ben’s urban farm or whether I open a carton of store-boughten eggs.

I only ever remember my Grandma cussing, I mean really, really cussing, one time when she was frying up a batch of eggs for breakfast for everybody. She normally “candled” the eggs to make sure they weren’t fertilized but there was one time when she left it go. (To candle an egg you hold it up to a strong light to see if there’s anything growing in it.) Suddenly from the corner of the kitchen by the stove came a string of loud, sincere curse words that would make a sailor blush. My grandpa jumped up, thinking she had burned herself but then started laughing out loud, which did not make her mood any better. She had broken an egg into the pan that had a chick in it. Us boys snuck outside while she cussed and Grandpa laughed.

But it was outside where my enemy lurked. They had a big old rooster, I don’t know if he had a name or not, I would have called him Devil-Bird if I’d had the vocabulary. I was very scrawny and weak as a young child and this demon could sense it. If ever an animal smelled fear in a human it was me. If I walked by him he would jump on my back, dig his claws into my shoulders, peck on my head, and flap his wings in my face as all the while I screamed and cried in terror until my uncle or one of the older boys or someone would come and shoo it away. I hated that thing and it always hung out on the path down to the outhouse. And this happened time and time again. Every time we’d visit it would happen at least once.

But then one time when I went into the house my Grandpa called me over to him right away. This was kind of unusual but not completely strange. He had a certain gleam in his eye when he had some special surprise that would give him away every time. It wasn’t Christmas or my birthday so I didn’t know what he could have for me. But then he said it, “Herbie, you’re never going to have to worry about that rooster ever again for as long as you live. I killed him and Grandma made him into dinner the other night.” You have no idea of the relief I felt. I always loved my grandparents and knew my Grandpa was a strong man and a hero but I don’t think I ever loved him more than I did right then.

The Devil Bird
My Hero


  1. Your story reminded me of a particularly cocky rooster that used to chase my little sister whenever she rode her tricycle at my grandparents’ farm. Good times.

  2. A fitting end for a bully, but roosters are typically tough and stringy….bullies to the end. My Grandpa ran an egg operation and I know the benefits of candling eggs well. My Mom, like your Grandma, did not like eggy surprises. Cheers. Allan

    • lol. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You guys are right, of course, but then I didn’t know it, I only knew the evil one had gone.

  3. I’ve always used the “Bully for you” expression in the Roosevelt sense. I have had many a rooster attack me both as a kid and as an adult (kept poultry all my life).. Conversely I’ve had many a hen perch on the handle bars of my bike to enjoy the ride! Very funny story about grandma cussing!

  4. My sister has chickens and lives a rural lifestyle. I’m going to show her how smart her California sis is and discuss ‘candling’ like I know what I’m doing!

    This will be fun.

  5. Your grandfather looks like so much fun. At my grandparents’ house, I was terrified of their brown upright vacuum cleaner because of the noise it made.

    • He really was. It’s interesting what young children are afraid of sometimes. I had a nephew who was afraid to pull the plug in the bathtub, even though you showed him there’s no possible way to go down it.

  6. My Grand father was a woodsy man like yours and quite a pistol. He drove around his farm in a used WWII jeep. One day a grown pig got in his way and refused to move. Paps got upset and was going to show that pig who was boss and rammed him with the jeep. The Jeep was totaled The pig walked away. Yes there are always storied from the farm
    Laugh Because… Why Not

    • Hahahaha! People don’t realize pigs can get gigantic and are actually dangerous. But Grampaw can always say, “I’m feeling like some bacon today, maw!”

  7. Hahaha, what a story. Love it. When I was young, many people raised chicken even if they are not farmers. And I encountered aggressive roosters too once in a while. They can be very frightening. I know exactly what you are talking about. In a child’s eyes, a rooster looks rather big. Huge even. Like that picture you had in the end.

  8. A rooster clawed onto my shoulders and pecking me in the head is more than I could take right now, let alone as a young kid.

    I had a grandma who lived to almost 106. She would tell us how her childhood job was to go out and kill a chicken for her mother to cook for dinner. She didn’t much like the job but she did it. People were tougher then.

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