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Unforgettable Pet: Cocker the Cockerel – A Mischievous Memory

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Few things capture the essence of rural life quite like the crow of a rooster. That was my belief until my family relocated to rural Norfolk in the summer of 2022. Our new abode, a renovated barn, came with an unexpected menagerie comprising 20 chickens, 15 ducks, and two farm cats—quite a departure from our previous pet-free existence.

Embracing the role of poultry enthusiasts, our children delighted in frolicking among the feathered residents, feeding them corn and eagerly collecting freshly laid eggs. Each chicken received a name, from the fanciful choices like Lulu and Dolly to the more mundane moniker of Cocker, bestowed upon the dominant rooster.

Cocker, a formidable presence with sharp spurs adorning his legs, exuded a boldness that set him apart. While the hens tended to shy away from human interaction, viewing them more as companions than potential meals, Cocker fearlessly approached us, demanding his share of treats. He exhibited a somewhat aggressive demeanor, especially evident during the period of avian influenza lockdown when the coop became their winter sanctuary. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the hens forced to share their space with such a domineering figure. And his crowing—whether at daybreak, upon laying an egg (supposedly), or simply to assert his presence—became a familiar soundtrack to our days.

Initially enamored with the rustic charm of our new surroundings, my perception shifted come springtime. The challenges of the harsh winter, coupled with the isolating nature of rural living, began to weigh heavily on me. Simple tasks like procuring groceries became logistical feats, and despite the warmth of the community, I grappled with a sense of seclusion. Battling longstanding insomnia, my nights grew fraught with anxiety, exacerbated by the early dawn calls of Cocker that shattered my already fragile sleep.

As daylight extended into the evenings, Cocker’s crowing heralding the dawn crept earlier and earlier, disrupting whatever respite I managed to find in the night. The relentless cycle of interrupted sleep took its toll, culminating in a desperate ultimatum to my husband before a brief respite away: “It’s either him or me.”

Upon my return, Cocker had been rehomed to a neighboring farm, an arrangement that aimed to curb his predawn proclamations. The absence of our feathered alarm clock brought a newfound tranquility to our homestead, though the hens seemed disoriented in his absence, underscoring his role as the linchpin of their flock.

In an unexpected turn of events, Cocker’s sudden demise, likely from old age, left a void that prompted reflections on his legacy. Offered the chance to have him replaced, I declined, opting to cherish the memory of his impactful presence. Witnessing the offspring he sired during his brief tenure at the neighbor’s farm served as a poignant reminder of his enduring influence.

With Cocker’s departure, my sleep markedly improved, aligning more closely with the serene rural existence I had sought.