A black rooster spends its days in our backyard, watching over the queen hens like a young vaquero with a red buckaroo hat. And when he dances, his wing feathers point downward, and he circles around a hen on the tips of his claws – rooster pirouettes, and the faint sound of Castanets or the cockerel waltz, as they sometimes call it.
The homestead feels, almost tastes, like a farm – four goats, three llamas, three cats, two hens, and the black rooster. This past weekend, we rescued six more chickens, a handful of eggs, and a peafowl egg that we hope will hatch in the next few days. Hints of a harvest in the orchard emerge – fresh lemons and grapefruit in the coming months. Most of the 26 nearly dead pomegranate trees lover planted and cared for have shown life – green leaves and red flowers (…perhaps, we’ll get a pomegranate or two before the first desert frost).
Every morning, blue work gloves are pulled lean and tight around my hands, and old red clogs tip tap across the packed earth, leaping across a mud patch left behind from irrigation day and into the barn, scooping up the morning hay. Occasionally, I tango with a llama while the wild birds call, the chickens cluck, and the rooster belts out his manly crow. A young doeling named Pearl makes a dash to eat the leaf that has just fallen from the tree. Three little girls wake, wild-haired and gangly, the oldest holds her baby sister. They look out into the pasture from the sliding glass doors – they’re waiting for the okay to join the morning dance.
image: A Navajo woman holding a rooster. Photograph by Loomis Dean. USA, May 1951.
p.s. “Linguists have speculated that the words “buckaroo” and “vaquero” may derive from Arabic words related to cattle, transliterated by some as bakara or bakhara, and suggests the words may have entered Spanish during the centuries of Islamic rule. The word for cattle in Arabic is Arabic: بقر baqar, and the Arabic word بقار baqqār means “cowherd.”