The embarrassed rooster of Kauai

I didn’t mean to embarrass the poor rooster. Hi, my name is Ashley. I lived in Tennessee until I was 9 years old and my family moved to the beautiful Garden Island of Kauai. When we moved here last year, I learned that Kauai is the fourth largest of the main islands and the oldest. It is 105 miles across the Kauai channel, northwest of Oahu. Living on Kauai is like living in paradise. The weather is always just perfect, which is very different from where I grew up. I love the nice breeze and bright sunshine of the island. The ocean is just magnificent. My siblings and I love to watch it pound the island’s shores. 

But I am 10 years old so I have to say that the thing I love best is the chickens. Wow, was I surprised that this beautiful island would have chickens everywhere. They are in our yard and in our neighbors’ yard. Every early morning the crowing roosters wake everybody up. I tell people back in Tennessee that the chickens are in the parking lots of every store, and walk across every street. They are even on the highest mountains on the island. There are baby chicks, mama hens, and lots and lots of roosters.

When my Mama Pearl and Big Papa came to visit us in Kauai, they were surprised that there were so many chickens everywhere.

“Where did the chickens come from?” they asked.

We laugh at all the tourists because they spend so much time taking pictures of the chickens. Obviously, they are just as fascinated with the chickens as my Mama Pearl.

I decided to investigate how the chickens came to be on Kauai so I could tell the tourists when they ask. Wikipedia says Kauai’s chickens originated from the original Polynesian settlers who brought them as a food source. They have since bred with European chickens that have gotten free from farms and cock-fighting breeders.

Of course this could be said of all the Hawaiian Islands, but the other islands don’t have the thousands of chickens Kauai has. So I did some more investigating and searching for clues, and this is what I found. Kauai’s thousands of wild chickens have few natural predators. The most devastating predator of chickens on the other islands is the mongoose. Now a mongoose is not a goose even though the name might be confusing. So I went investigating for another clue concerning the mongoose. The mongoose is not a cat, although it is in the cat family. It is not Civet, although it is somewhat kin. A mongoose is a small and long, fury critter. There are 30 different species of mongoose. The life span is about 20 years, and they can weigh from 12 ounces to 12 pounds. They obviously eat a lot, because on the other islands we have never seen any wild chickens, but we did see several mongoose.

But this story is about the embarrassed rooster, not the mongoose.

It all started when my grandparents came to visit this past week. They were very interested in the chickens for two very important reasons. The first reason was the eggs. Mama Pearl, who has chickens back in Tennessee, wanted to create a way where we could have free eggs from the wild chickens. She explained to me that common sense indicates that since there are baby chicks everywhere there are eggs everywhere, too. It was just a matter of convincing the hens to lay their eggs where we could easily find them. Since she is a Tennessee farm lady, she knew just what to do. We found 2 small boxes and put them in protected shady spots under our house. And then we started putting out bits and pieces of bread and apples, hoping to lure the hens to the area so they could find the boxes where they could lay their small white eggs. It worked. She also told me that eggs stay fresh out of refrigeration for several days, and even weeks, as long as they are not washed. We gathered the eggs and put them in a large bowl of water to see if they would float. The floaters were tossed, and the heavy ones we ate!

Now I told you there were two very important reasons why my grandparents were interested in the chickens. You only have to look at my Big Papa’s old leather hat to guess the second reason. The two old broken rooster feathers that grace his hat really needed replacing, and I, the valiant, swift of foot granddaughter, Ashley Pearl, really wanted to be the magnificent rooster catcher, and borrow just two feathers for my Big Papa’s hat. He is a 10-time world champion knife and tomahawk thrower and needs good rooster feathers to make his appearance complete. He will be throwing knives on Sunday at Crossroads Church so it is important that he looks the part.

So now we are back to the place where I’m feeling bad, or maybe you could say guilty, about messing with one of the Kauai roosters. I had the best of intentions the day I spied the rooster with the longest and most colorful tail feathers of all of the roosters. The chase was on. I totally did not think of any important things like dignity and good manners. Not anything was going to stop me from catching that rooster. I ran so fast, it felt like my feet were flying. Round and round we went until that old rooster made a fatal error of running into the corner of the fence. I slid in for the big grab. My hand wrapped tightly around the wild creature’s feathery, fighting body. But he was more determined than I. And there I was left lying flat on my belly, arms stretched out in front of me, with my hands full of the rooster’s tail feathers.

Have you ever seen a rooster with a naked behind? My farmer Mama Pearl says you never will because naked roosters are so embarrassed they don’t come out of hiding until their tail feathers grow back, and that takes a while.

Now days I count the roosters as we drive down the road, and my heart still races as I remember the great chase. I do still feel really bad about the poor naked rooster. So this is a public apology to all you wonderful folks of Kauai who have been so good to us. We love John who is a real Hawaiian and has lived here all his life. We are honored when he says we are like his real family! We love Pastor Bob from our church, and we love our church, too. We love Paul who helps my dad run his metal roof manufacturing company. He is the best. We love the colors and the smells, Musabi, ahi, seaweed and fish tacos. We love the culture and how nice everyone is. We LOVE Kauai and I love the chickens.

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Ashley Pearl is 10 years old and attends Olelo Christian Academy. Her parents, Nathan and Zephyr Pearl, own and operate a roofing metal manufacturing company on Kauai.

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