1988 - Volume #12, Issue #5, Page #18[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Charlie the Rooster is One of the FamilyAn elderly Wisconsin farm couple has an unusually smart rooster that doesn't seem to know he's a chicken. Charlie the rooster thinks he's a member of the family.
Fred Stopple and his wife, Florence, are 76 and 77 years of age and have been farmers all their lives. They say they've never seen anything like the crossbreed rooster that was born on their farm about a year and a half ago.
"I first discovered him laying wet and half dead in the farm yard when he was only a few days old. I took him into the house, wrapped him in a towel and laid him on the furnace register," says Florence, who nursed the chick back to health in a short time. "I took him back out to the mother hen but she disowned him. So I took him back into the house and put him into a bird cage. At the time we thought he was female so we named him Charolette. When we discovered Charolette was a male, we named him Charlie."
The rooster follows the family wherever they go. When Florence burns the trash or gets the mail, Charlie's always close on her heels. When Fred and Florence get up at 4:30 a.m. and turn the lights on in the farm house, Charlie starts to crow because, say the Stopples, he knows it's close to break-fast time.
"I feed him table scraps. He loves both raw and fried hamburger. I also feed him chopped corn. He really goes for split grapes and bread soaked in milk, which is what I fed him as a chick," says Florence.
When the family talks to Charlie, he replies with a peculiar chicken chatter, acting as though he understands what they are saying to him. He even performs tricks.
"Charlie crows for me when I put him up on the clothes line post. He crows only once and then I put him down," says Florence, noting that the rooster gets along well with all the farm animals and pets. The dog won't touch Charlie even though he chases the other chickens in the yard. He and Charlie are buddies. "The cats have adopted him, too. When it gets cold and wet outside, Charlie goes inside and sits with them. They get along great together."
Charlie follows Fred all over the farm when he's doing chores. Fred has to keep an eye out when operating machinery so he doesn't run over him.
Charlie is a mixed breed and sports beautiful plumage that's similar to a pheasant. "He knows he's a pretty boy and often just struts around the farm yard. Our grandchildren can't wait to get to the farm to give him handouts."
Fred and his sons often tease Florence, asking if she's going to cook Charlie for dinner some Sunday but everyone knows that won't happen. "If anything ever hap-pens to Charlie, we'll really grieve," she says.
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