The good news is – Larry isn’t dead! The bad news is – Larry is homeless! Those who read my column may remember that I have mentioned Larry before.
Larry is a rooster who belongs to my great-grandchildren, Daxton and Emily. At one time he was “the cock of the walk”, the “boss of his flock”, and “strutted his stuff”! He could be heard crowing “loud and proud” all day long. I could even hear him all the way to my house. He liked to “bully” the humans who fed him and would attack and “flop” them every chance he got. They would have to hit him with the feed bucket!
And then slowly but surely Larry began to lose his flock. One by one a fox and coyotes got away with all of them including Chickaletta, Henrietta, and finally Bernise. Larry had lost the loves of his life and his desire for his crowing in the morning. He had no purpose! He didn’t even feel like being mean to the humans. He just wandered around every day, a lost fowl!
Then one day it happened! A big, fat raccoon was seen scratching at the neighbor’s door and then he wandered over into the yard where Larry was. Evidently he decided he would enjoy a chicken dinner. He attacked Larry and the fight was on! The last anyone saw Larry, he was being dragged into the woods!
Larry was gone. The great-grand kids were sad. No more being awakened in the mornings by Larry’s loud crowing. No more being unexpectedly “flopped”, no need to carry the bucket to fend him off. Nothing left but Larry’s feathers scattered in the yard.
Days went by. Then on one of her days off, Emily and Daxton’s Mom decided to go walking with them through the fields and woods. It is one of their favorite things to do. They enjoy walking through the nearby pasture fields and woods, wading and playing in the creek, learning about the flowers, the weeds, and the wildlife, just enjoying a peaceful summer day.
As they entered a clearing in the woods, they suddenly heard a sound. Lo and behold, there he was---Larry---alive and up in a tree! He was missing a lot of his feathers, one of his “spurs” had been torn off, he looked very sad and bedraggled and he definitely wasn’t crowing!
Just like those who live on the streets in our cities, Larry is homeless. He has no roof over his head, no building for shelter and safety, and he has to search for food wherever he can find something. He is traumatized and afraid to go home. Emily and Daxton and their Mom have been taking food to him, but he has yet to return.
People being homeless is a major problem in this country today. Years ago a County Home was established on a farm in my area. It provided a home for the elderly who had no family to take care of them and who weren’t able to live alone. Other younger people who were homeless, without any family and in need of help were also allowed to live there. They worked there in exchange for a place to stay.
The men helped with livestock, crops, gardens and maintenance. The women helped with cooking, laundry and cleaning. A cemetery was established on the farm for anyone who died there and had no place to be buried.
I fail to understand why similar type homes cannot be established for the homeless today, where they could help with their own care. Medical and mental health care would need to be addressed, however I am sure that there would be programs available to help with that. The community could help in finding work for people and help get them back to living a normal life.
Being homeless is a sad situation for both humans and animals. It is not always the result of bad choices. There are so many different reasons! All kinds of people are homeless. The challenges are difficult and multi-faceted. There is danger to them and to others. The first thing needed is safe and reliable housing.
This country has the resources to end homelessness, but lacks the collective will to do so. Solving the problem is at the mercy of politicians trying to score points and shave margins. Greed and inequity keep the entire system intact.
“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty”. (Mother Teresa)
A columnist whose work appears in newspapers great and small, Barb Lumley can be reached at email@example.com