We had just returned from town and found a gorgeous Rhode Island Red rooster in a cage under a tree. We weren't expecting a chicken delivery that spring day, but a phone call from Butch explained. He'd gotten the rooster in a trade and knew we wanted one. None of us had any idea that Erik was EVIL.
Erik was crafty. He appeared cooperative, and as appreciative as a chicken gets when fed and watered. Tall and regal, he possessed classic coloring. An excellent specimin for breeding, I thought. He'd be great at living history events, and school programs. Erik managed to hang onto his good boy persona for nearly a week. Secure in his new home, he let Mr. Hyde out of the dark recesses of his feathery heart.
He was a murderer. We put him in a pen with six hens, but only one survived, an old Buff Orpington. Tough and experienced, she faced down Erik,who became devoted to her. She was the only creature safe around him.
He interfered with egg collecting. He'd pretend to be doing some fascinating chicken business, until Art got the cover off the pen and reached inside. POW! he'd errupt into feathered fury. Beak flashing, spurs slashing, he'd jump for Art's face. Art got really good at slamming the top down just in time to avoid injury. The best time to collect "Evil's" eggs was when he was in a sleep stupor. Actually, that was the safest time to do anything with Erik.
He hated the public. Our friend Hangman still tells a story of Erik's first event at Jones park. A young woman came up and asked to pet a chicken. She noticed Erik, placed off to one side away from the other examples of heritage chickens. Erik spotted her.
"Why does that chicken hate me?" she asked." Look at how he's looking at me!"
"Ma'am," Hangman said, "It's not just you, he doesn't like anybody."
That afternoon, some Civil War re-enactors came by "commandeering" livestock to feed the troops. Art offered them Erik; they took one look at him throwing himself against the wire, spurs extended, and left empty handed.
Erik hated us. A human free zone around his pen became imperative, which complicated feedings. He'd wait until someone showed a lack of attention while pouring feed through a crack in the top of the pen. He'd hit the side of the wire like a charging bull, bury a spur in a workboot, or leave a hole the size of a .22 in an unprotected shin or knee.
He spiraled deeper into sociopathic behavior when his hen died of old age. He was alone, and the world would pay. To my horror, he learned to escape his pen. Not as quick as I used to be, I had reason to be wary of that bird. If he got out I stayed in. Art would have to capture him. Erik had topped out at two and a half feet, and every inch was vindictive.
He understood capture nets were to be avoided. He knew folks that brandished nets were up to no good and sped away squawking through the brush. Fast and agile, he bcame impossible to catch. He had to be stopped, and was -- with one shot.
You might disagree with that solution. Someone made Erik evil and passed him off in a trade. Unwittingly given to us, things didn't work out. Some critters just can't be rehabbed; kindness didn't work. A lot of you have Erik stories from your past visits, and know we did the best thing for him and us.