The Rooster Who Learned To Crow
A story from A Lamp in Every Corner: Our Unitarian Universalist Storybook (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2004).
Read or tell the story.
There once was a farm in a valley that was practically perfect in every way, except that it had no rooster to crow at the crack of dawn, and so everyone was always late getting out of bed. The dog never woke up in time to fetch the newspaper for the farmer. The farmer never woke up in time to milk the cows before the sun rose. The cows never woke up in time to eat the grass when it was still wet with morning dew, which is when it is most tasty. Everyone was always late on that farm, and so everyone was always a bit cranky in the morning, and sometimes that crankiness lasted all day.
Until one day, a chicken arrived at the farm. Everyone was excited because she had four little yellow balls of fluff peeping and cheeping behind her. "Uh, pardon me, Mrs. Chicken," snuffled the pig, who was always exceedingly polite. "But would one of your chicks there happen to be, that is, might one be, a he?"
"Why, yes," answered Mrs. Chicken, and she pointed with the tip of her wing to the last chick in line. "That's my son."
"A rooster chicken!" squealed the youngest of the lambs, and all the other animals squealed (or whinnied or quacked or oinked), too. "We won't be late anymore! We have a rooster on the farm!"
But they didn't. Not yet. They had to wait for the chicks to grow up. And grow they did, from little yellow balls of fluff with legs to bigger yellow balls of fluff with legs. As the days passed, all the young chickens grew fine white feathers and bright yellow feet, and then — finally — young Mr. Rooster Chicken began to grow long swooping feathers on his tail.
"A tail, a tail!" squealed the youngest of the lambs. "Soon you'll be old enough to crow!"
"You look very handsome today, young Mr. Rooster," snorted the pig, who was always exceedingly polite. "A very fine looking fowl, if I so may say."
"Thank you," said young Mr. Rooster, with a bob of his head and a quiver of his cockscomb, but then he walked away, his long tail feathers drooping and his cockscomb down, too.
"What's wrong?" asked his friend, the gray-and-white cat who lived in the barn.
"Something's wrong," said his other friend, the yellow duck who swam in the pond. The pig came over to listen, too.
"Well," said the young rooster, scratching in the dirt with his strong yellow toes, "everybody's waiting for me to grow up and crow. I'm doing the growing-up part all right, but . . ."
"But what?" asked the cat.
"But I don't know how to crow! I've never even heard a rooster. I don't know what I'm supposed to do!"
"We shall help you," announced the pig, who was always exceedingly helpful as well as exceedingly polite.
"We will?" asked the cat, with every single one of his eyebrow whiskers raised. "How?"
"Yes, how?" quacked the duck.
"We shall teach him," said the pig. "You have heard a rooster crow before, have you not, Mrs. Duck?"
"Yes, I have!" said the duck. "I can show you." She flew to the top of the chicken coop nearby. Then she folded her wings back, tilted her bill up, and crowed. "Quack-a-whack a-whack a-whack."
The cat crouched down and flattened his ears.
"Hmmm," said the pig. "Thank you, Mrs. Duck, though that's not perhaps
quite . . ."
"I hope not!" said the rooster, looking very much alarmed.
"I shall demonstrate," said the pig. "First, one must climb, though you will no doubt fly, to a high point." The pig climbed to the top of the manure pile. "Then, tilt your head back — Mrs. Duck did that part quite well — clear your throat and . . . crow." The pig tilted his head back and cleared his throat. "Oink a-snuffle, oink a-snort!"
The cat closed his eyes and shook his head.
"Hmmph!" said the duck, not at all impressed.
"Yes, well . . ." The pig climbed down from the manure pile. "That is not quite, uh, that is . . . it does sound a bit . . . you understand . . . with a real rooster . . ."
"I'll show you," said the cat, and he leapt to the top of the fence and curled his tail around his toes. He washed one paw and looked up at the sky. "Meow a-meow-a-meow-a-meow."
"Hmmph!" said the duck.
"Hmmm," said the pig.
"Oh, dear," said the rooster, looking even more alarmed.
"Maybe another chicken," suggested the duck, and they went to fetch one of the hens. But all she managed was "Cluck a-cluck a-cluck a-cluck!" The dog gave them "Woof a-woof a-woof a-woof!" The lamb went "Baa a-baa a-baa a-baa!"
The rooster sadly shook his head. "I'll never learn how to crow. I won't be any good at waking people up. Nobody will like me anymore."
"Sure we will!" said the cat. "I like you right now, and you've never crowed a day in your life." All the other animals agreed, with baas and moos and stomping of feet. "Besides," added the cat, "I don't want you waking me up. I like to sleep late."
"You will," said the rooster, as gloomy as a rainy day.
"I wonder," said the pig, "have you yourself ever tried to crow, Mr. Rooster?"
"Me?" said the rooster. "But . . ."
"You're more of a rooster than any of us," said the duck.
"And we'll like you no matter what you sound like," said the pig.
"Even if you don't make any sound at all!" said the cat.
And so the rooster decided to try. He flew up to the top of the chicken coop. He folded his wings back. He tilted his head. And he tried to make the same noises all his friends had tried to make before. Softly at first: "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" and then again, louder, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" and then very loud indeed: "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
After that, no one had any doubt that young Mr. Rooster knew how to crow, not even young Mr. Rooster himself.
There is a farm in a valley that is practically perfect in every way. It even has a fine young rooster, who crows at the crack of dawn, and so everyone always gets out of bed exactly on time. The dog always wakes up in time to fetch the newspaper for the farmer. The farmer always wakes up in time to milk the cows before the sun rises. The cows always wake up in time to eat the grass when it is still wet with morning dew, which is when it is most tasty. Everyone is always wide awake on that farm, because they have a rooster whose friends helped him learn how to crow, just like this: "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"