Free to Good Home

Day 68 of 365

About 8 and 1/2 years ago, we got our son an aquarium and some fish for his room. He loved nature documentaries when he was little and just loved fish and ocean programs especially. When we went to the local pet shop chain, we met a fish expert who really was a fish expert. Most of the people we encountered in the chain pet shops were not. While we were looking for a light for the aquarium, I asked him about getting one with the blue light to leave on at night.

“Why do you want to leave a light on the fish at night?” he asked me.

“Well, I wanted it to be a night light for our son,” I said. It was true. We were getting the aquarium, in part, with hopes that it would help our son sleep in his own bed at night. He had a long history of real night terrors and couldn’t sleep alone very well. He had really big trouble waking up from nightmares. He would be stuck in limbo for such a long time that it was scary. He used to speak in what I thought might be another language. I had never seen anything like it. So, in an effort to make him feel safer at night, I was willing to try anything. Maybe fish could help comfort him. I didn’t know that it was bad to keep a light on for fish all night, that they need dark to sleep too.

“Well, whatever is good for your kid. Who cares about what’s good for the fish,” he said with a tone that shamed me to my core.

It made me realize that he was right, that we were buying these fish without nearly enough education about what fish need to thrive. I had no idea how intelligent they are, especially certain types of fish, like angelfish. We bought two angelfish the size of quarters and an array of other fish that would be compatible with the angels. Eight and 1/2 years later, our angelfish died. During that 8 and 1/2 years, I learned a lot about fish. I mainly learned that they need and deserve a lot of good care. I learned I never wanted to have fish again. It’s a lot of work to do it well. It’s very time consuming.

I loved my angelfish. They grew to be the size of my hand. The first one passed away at about 5 years old, but the second girl, named Michael, made it to 8 and 1/2. I mourned that fish for sure, but I knew I was done with the fish game. I had just one other fish left in the tank, a lone Khuli loach–and Khuli loaches should not be alone.

I took myself back to the pet shop chain, hoping against hope, that the fish expert who so rightly shamed me would still be there. By some miracle, he was. Much like mine, his hair was much grayer than the last time I had seen him, but I knew this was the guy. He didn’t remember me, of course, but I told him the story and asked for his advice.

He told me he was impressed I had an angel make it to 8 and 1/2 . “Are you sure you don’t want to start a new tank?” he asked. I told him no, that we have a farm and a busy kiddo and that I couldn’t give fish the attention they deserved.

“I respect that,” he said. And, then, he said he would adopt my Khuli loach! I was so happy. Over the years, I had come to greatly appreciate those little fish, and I wanted this last little loach to have a good home. It was going to the best home! He told me to bring it in the next day and that he would take it.

When I took that little fish to the pet shop the next day, I didn’t see my guy at first. I started to worry. I waited for a bit, and finally, he came out from the back. I guess he was on break, but he saw me and came straight to me. He had a line of people, but he came and took the fish right away. He looked me in the eye and said, “I will give it a good home.” I nodded my head in a slow, deep thanks and told him I was so grateful. He nodded back and was off to help the next people.

When I got home, Ron said, “You did right by that little fish.”

Today, I did right by three little roosters, and I am even more grateful. We had four roosters in our summer round of baby chicks. We were very fortunate. Out of 12 babies, we had 8 girls and 4 boys. We are keeping one boy, named Dvorak by my son. For the rest, I really wanted to find good homes for them because they seem to be very good roosters so far.

And a good rooster is hard to find.

This is one of Ruby’s babies. He’s a very pretty boy and went to a good home today. I hope he’s doing well. The first day is always tough.

So I told their story on Facebook. They are of a great breed that is docile, so I knew, surely, someone would want them, at least some of them. It’s very hard to find homes for roosters. This is Maine. Everyone has chickens, and everyone who hatches chicks has too many roosters. In the early fall, you can drive down the road and see signs “free roosters.”

I have a rule for the roosters I raise. If they seem to be bad roosters, we keep them and make soup out of them when they are older. If they seem to be good roosters, I do everything in my power to find them a good home.

Today, I got really lucky. I delivered roosters to some really kind people. The little super sweet boy went to a woman who lives on the coast and was wonderfully kind. She asked about paying for him, and I said he was free to a good home. So she brought a gift instead–seaweed for the garden. Yeah, she was awesome!

She later messaged me and said she was going to skip a meeting she had today and just watch the “cute little dude.” He was staying in a crate in her house for a few weeks while he was in quarantine. This made my heart so happy. When I caught him today for his trip, he was very upset and cried and cried, but when I snuggled him, he leaned in and just put his little head on my shoulder. He’s that sweet. I am so glad he went to such a fantastic home. I think he hit the rooster jackpot, and I over the moon for him.

Two roosters went to another woman, who also seemed just awesome. “Oh, I’m the chicken lady,” she said. I thought this was excellent. My people for sure. She told me she has four different coops, and the chickens can choose which one to sleep in at night, based on who they want to be with. So the chickens get to choose their people! This is the best and so wonderful for chickens. I have thought many times about how my animals who don’t like each other get stuck living with people they don’t like. I feel so sorry for them and try to help make the best of it. Lots of space helps, but truly, having four coops is the best. Ron told me not to get any ideas.

So it was a good day for roosters and a good week for me for finding good homes for some deserving animals. My work here is done…until tomorrow, of course, when I have to teach my babies and the rest of Ruby’s babies how to get along and live together. They are pretty young. This should go fairly well. I mean, I hope so.

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