The Last Rooster
Around 4.40 pm on the 11th of January 2023, hope met the reality of our promise, as the last Silkie rooster was removed from the tiny wire prison that had been his home for heaven knows how long.
Despite not knowing the duration of that incarceration, we do know it was hell on earth for he and 601 other gentle souls. And as the door was cranked shut on that shed of despair, and cages upon cages of equally fortunate roosters were placed into our airy stockcrate, Operation Mini was inching closer to its joyous conclusion.
Touching down at Edgar’s Mission some three plus hours later, the lads, for the first time in their feathery life, felt freedom. And it confused them.
And so too our kindness.
We were alerted late last week to the plight of hundreds upon hundreds of commercially reared Silkie chickens, whose dire fate just got a whole lot worse due to their abandonment, fast-depleting food stocks and an imminent order for their death.
Hatched for the supposed delicacy that is their black flesh and bones, and their alleged health benefits to humans, these sweet and gentle birds were condemned to lives of abject misery.
And gruesome deaths.
Caged as they were, just like battery hens, in ill-accommodating and outdated wire cages that thwarted any attempt at a meaningful existence for an animal who asks so little of life.
Whilst the hens readily found homes thanks to an incredibly kind-hearted local, not so the roosters.
And this is where the most ambitious of our rescue missions began – Operation Mini.
Although truth be told, when the mission commenced, and our rescue team rolled out the sanctuary gates that first day, even we did not think the complete rescue of so many roosters would be possible.
Then we met the birds.
And determined it would be so.
Confused and bewildered in that stinking hot shed, those gentle lads eyed us. Perceiving us to be just another menace sent to torment them.
As rickety fans did their best to fulfill their charter, although some had already given up the ghost, those that hadn’t displaced the cobwebs that shrouded them. The air was as thick with despair and dander as the floor was littered with the bodies for whose owners our help had come too late.
And excrement, so much excrement. In some places the floor was alive with maggots and beetles, doing their best efforts to rid the shed of waste.
One look around resoundingly confirmed they truly had their work cut out for them.
And so did we.
Although our ears at first had struggled to comprehend the numbers, the deepest of blows struck our eyes and hearts as they took in the circumstance of those hapless birds, who deserved none of what had been cast upon them.
Yet another blow struck each evening when we took the final bird from his cage for the day, knowing we could accommodate no more souls on that trip.
We vowed to return.
And return we did. Day upon hot-stinking day.
Until the last one.
The hottest of days thus far. The longest of days too, that would see us offer salvation to double the number of birds we had on any previous visit. For this time, we had come prepared.
Or so we thought.
For it was the day that just about everything went wrong, from our recently purchased 4WD vehicle, with just on 2000 km on the clock, breaking down a cruel 18 km shy of the shed, which saw us calling on a kindly soul to ferry the stock crate and our team those last kilometres, to having to call on another team member to make the long trek to get us back to sanctuary, to our then excess team member missing the train home, which necessitated having to borrow a loan vehicle – these were just some of the many adversities we faced on a day we would have been forgiven for pulling the pin on.
Yet never, not once, did any member of our amazing team even hint at this.
And so those hot, sweaty and muck-filled hours rolled on, and hands and hearts began to weary, as rooster by beautiful, fluffy (and in many instances emaciated) rooster was liberated from those cages we trust can be steamrolled forever, until finally we reached the last one.
Oh, how we had dreamed of that moment.
A moment that shall be forever carved in time, our hearts and true meaning of kindness.
Minnesota, as he was named. The last rooster was lifted from his cage and not placed in a carrier to be ferried home, but, as a symbol of what was to come, he was gently cradled in loving arms, told how wonderful and precious he was, that he would never again be forgotten, and carried with a heady mix of triumph and tiredness out of the shed.
The last rooster was on his way home.
Footnote to this story: If you have been moved by Minnesota’s tale, please remember this. That behind every hen, wherever she may flutter, there was a rooster. A sentient being whose gender sealed his fate, and it rarely is good.
Our heartfelt thanks rings out to each and every person who played their generous part in making this incredible rescue possible – YOU ARE AWESOME!
Did you know that Minnesota is one of our Best Buddies who you can sponsor? The perfect gift for a loved one or for yourself, you can get a free postal pack when you order a sponsorship online. You’ll then get updates on how he is doing!
After a night so long it almost forgot to end, we caught some sleep, grabbed a snack and headed on our well-worn track to the barn.
There was no doubt that Berlin’s world was crumbling the day he and his three buddies were surrendered into our care.
With a haunting sadness in their eyes, Gracelyn and Elvira entered our world. And we theirs, as they searched their newfound digs for somewhere to land their gaze.
Lost in a world far, far bigger than himself was little Bahama. But then kindness found him.
Little Kokomo may have been down on his luck the day he was born, finding himself way down in a pile of mirky mud.
Words could not convey our shock when we went to our carpark to collect the little lamb we would soon name Bermuda, who was surrendered into our care after having been found the day before.
More than likely destined for backyard slaughter, the young Cedric ran for his life. And did so for several days in the off-leash dog park to which he had retreated.
Friend or freezer? Without even meeting the colourful chap we have named Tom Cruise, we knew the only role he should ever fill was the first.
At just one day old, teeny tiny Trapper John was diminutive in size yet formidable in impact, and everybody was talking about him.