By Charles Towne

“If that darned old rooster attacks me once more I’m going to wring his miserable neck.”  Those were daddy’s exact words.

And so it began.

Fiddlesticks was his name, and he lived by grace, mama’s grace.  Nobody was allowed to harm Fiddlesticks under any circumstances.

As far as mama was concerned Fiddlesticks could do no wrong, but the rest of the family surely knew better.

You are probably wondering just who Fiddlesticks was, aren’t you?  Back on the old home place fiddlesticks ruled the roost, quite literally I might add.

Fiddlesticks was a big old red rooster, a real cock of the walk, the sort that gives all roosters a bad name.

Nobody was safe from that demon-possessed rooster.  He would attack anything and anybody. Dogs were fair game as were cats, other chickens, the cow, our horse, me, my siblings, even daddy, and I don’t mind telling you that nobody attacked daddy, at least nobody in his right mind.

But mama for some reason was off-limits, Fiddlesticks for whatever reason saw her as inviolate and invincible.

Over the years I have had some formidable bird acquaintances.  As a zoo director, I have had eagles, owls, hawks and cara cara, which is Mexico’s national bird. 

And I might add that If you have not been vomited on by a turkey vulture you have missed one of the greatest and most singular pleasures of life. 

And then there are great blue herons.

I was canoeing in a Michigan swamp.  I had decided to photograph the activity and life on a great blue heron rookery that contained more than a hundred nests.  Each nest contained at least one immature heron, and I might add that each of those diabolical birds was well fed.

I don’t know why but great blue herons don’t like me.

I have never been able to figure out what triggered their response, but quite suddenly each of those birds chose that exact moment, (or so it seemed) to evacuate their blessed little bowels, and I was their target!


Did I mention that I don’t like great blue herons?

Oh yes, back to fiddlesticks, my mama’s big red rooster.

Time passes.


I imagine Fiddlesticks suffered from suicidal tendencies because one fateful day he committed the unpardonable sin… he threw caution to the wind and attacked mama.

Did I mention that my mama was a wonderful cook?

If you take a tough old red rooster and after wringing his neck and plucking all his feathers you cut him up and boil him, and then fry him, that mean old bird will turn out so nice and tender and, delicious?  I should say so!


Papa God, sin stinks doesn’t it?  We are told in your word that the prayers of the righteous rise up to you as sweet incense.  Please accept our prayers as they are intended. We love you O Holy one, In Jesus blessed name, Amen.

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Another smile on my face and a chuckle, of course. This reminded me of time on the farm, my grandparents’ farm. Ahhh yes, good memories of fun times with cousins, aunts and uncles, fresh veggies out of the garden….and delicious fried chicken! Well, who knows, maybe it was one of those struttin’ roosters that everyone tried to avoid. Thanks, Chuck!
    Love your stories! God bless you!

  2. CSG, yes dear friend, it seems that my entire life has been an animal related round that has enabled me to see Papa God’s loving hand always ready to save my hide. I thank Him for loving me in spite of me, even when I was running away! What a wonderful God we serve. Bless you, Chaz

  3. Nice memory Charlie. It also reminds me of the time our cook captured one of the chickens, chopped off its head and it jump to the ground and jumped around. She got so scared she ran away and we didn’t hear from her for three days. So happy about the book. Keep them coming.

    • Yes Herb, seeing a chicken flopping around without its head is enough to set anybody back a bit. Thanks for the good thoughts concerning the book! What a blessing! Many blessings on you and yours, Chaz

  4. I remember Mama grabbing a chicken by its head and swinging it forcefully around separating the head (which Mama tossed into the weeds with a flick of her wrist) from the body (which ran wildly about for a few seconds). She then dipped the chicken in boiling water to loosen the feathers before plucking and gutting it.I also remember her scorching the pin feathers from the plucked bird with a lighted roll of newspaper. I remember her slitting an opening between the legs and watching as she reached in and removed the innards, being carful not to rupture the gall bladder. I also remember many years later attempting to do the same thing – kill a chicken by wringing its neck, scalding it to pluck feathers, scorching off pin feathers, and extracting innards. I did it once, that was enough! It was a violent, smelly, and messy ordeal. But for Mama, it was routine because she had too. I suppose if I had to, I could do it routinely too, but times have changed.

    • Yes Judith, looking back it is a bold fact that mama was a rare breed, courageous to say the least. And I agree about dressing out a chicken being smelly, especially dipping the chicken into the boiling water, I can smell it yet! You also bought back a memory of her burning off the pin feathers. What a life! Love you sis, Chaz

  5. Charles !!! Another beautiful story that reminds me my child and yuongerhood at the farms … Cows, pigs, chicken, horses, wild pigs, vultures, buffalos, and many others incredibles creatures … We miss that but we keep and we’d had unique & amazing years during that years.
    Thanks, Little Brother for remind those years. GOD Bless You …

  6. Leo, my dear Venazulian brother, what a treat to be exposed to the incredibly diverse and unique animal, bird and reptile species as you have in your South American country. I fear that if I was so blessed i would never get over it, or return. May Papa God pour out his blessings on you and yours my friend, Chaz

  7. Mike, the only thing I can say is fiddlesticks to fiddlesticks. He never did learn, therefore, no more fiddlesticks! Blessings my friend, Chaz

  8. Dear Chaz, as the comments indicate everybody has memories, some good, some bad. You have lived a most interesting, blessed and challenging life. Please keep the stories coming. A friend

  9. Dear friend, you are so right! So often when we are young we think we have been short changed, deprived if you will, whereas in reality if we had the foresight to change our lives, exchange what has been for something else, something “other” we most likely would settle for nothing less than what is or what has been. We are the sum of our existence, nothing less, nothing more, and it is all good. Blessings on you and yours, Chaz

  10. Well, we know that Papa God loves you or you would have had a much more sedate life and nothing to write about later! Also, it is NEVER a smart idea to tick mama off!! And most of all after reading the story, I am greatful there was no “freckles”! God’s greatest blessings to you my friend!


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