Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing about such a scenario, such a brazen attack on my person.

Derrick, my wife Lucy’s son, moved in the the little white house that sits on twenty acres slap dab in the middle of Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. He had plenty of space to raise some chickens and have fresh organic eggs for his table.

Derrick built a little chicken house with a tiny screened-in lot underneath. This amazing structure is on wheels and can be moved around the spacious yard at will. Wherever it rests for a few days, the ground gets fertilized.

There are nests attached to the rear of this chicken tractor for the hens to deposit their eggs, and then cackle to let the world know of their accomplishment.

In the Spring of 2018, Derrick bought seven little chicks from the farmers’ co-op, and was told they were all females. They were comfortable in their little home and grew quickly.

One chick developed more personality and was more friendly than the others, and Derrick and his fiancée Jeannie named this chick Lucille. Lucy was honored to have this namesake.

All was well until Lucille started crowing.

Obviously Lucille was a rooster. Derrick and Jeannie considered changing his name to Leroy, but kept calling him Lucille—never thinking this might cause him to develop an identity crisis.

We have been unable to find anyone that will give “Lucille” counseling. Oh, well. Just another “Boy Named Sue” situation like Johnny Cash sang about.

The farmers’ co-op made a second mistake, though. Another chick turned out to be a rooster. They named this guy Chester.

Now there were two handsome black and white speckled birds strutting about the premises and crowing often. The country folk used to call this breed Domineckers, but the correct name is Plymouth Barred Rocks.

Two of the hens are barred rocks which lay brown eggs, while three are the Easter Eggers breed which lay green eggs. Derrick and Jeannie can have green eggs and ham, a combination made famous by Dr. Seuss.

It is a known fact that chickens establish a pecking order. Chester became the dominant one and Lucille was at the bottom of the pecking order. Poor Lucille!

If that wasn’t enough, Lucille was hit by a passing vehicle, as evidenced by some of his feathers beside the road. He wasn’t killed, but was limping badly. Derrick let Lucille live in the garage temporarily, but this could not be a permanent arrangement.

When Lucille re-joined the flock, Chester bullied him, and Lucille found refuge in the woods. Poor Lucille stayed in the woods most of the time for several days, but still roosted with the other chickens.

While Derrick was on a trip to Atlanta, I went by the “LIttle White House” to check on things. I spotted the chickens out near the grape arbor where they like to hang out. There was only one rooster there, and it was Chester.

Ray recalls the incident with the ornery rooster.

As I spoke to him in a friendly way, Chester edged toward me slowly, pretending to peck at the grass. But this was subterfuge. He just wanted to get closer.

When he got close enough, Chester launched a furious attack, flying up two or three feet in the air with his spurs ready. I attempted to kick him in self-defense—not an easy task for an unsteady ninety-year-old man.

Chester dodged most of my attempts, but when he flogged me again, I connected and kicked him, sending him tumbling.

But he came right back at me.

A brave fighting cock! I now see why the University of South Carolina calls their football team The Fighting Gamecocks.

I connected with a couple more kicks before Chester finally relented. I had missed more times than I connected, and frankly I was tired out after the battle.

I don’t recommend this sport for old shaky men.

So the next time I take a walk in my yard, I will “walk softly and carry a big stick,” in the words of president Teddy Roosevelt. In the next encounter, I will be prepared. Chester might just end up in the stew pot with a mess of dumplings.

It would serve him right for his treatment of Lucille.

Click HERE to order Ray’s latest book Up From Hanging Dog