Friday, February 26, 2010

Frankie: Last Symbol of Freedom

A Comfortable Life

I readily admit I have a pretty comfortable life, but don't mistake me for a pet. The animals around here don't think of themselves as pets or the more politically correct term "animal companions." All the horses, dogs, and cats understand that without Dangerous and Trea life would be difficult. None of us worry about where our next meal will come from. The horses punctually wait at the fence morning and night knowing they will be fed. Max and I eat our fill from a full dog dish, and Trea's cats help themselves to whatever they want when they are hungry. While we know who feeds us, Dangerous and his wife value each of our unique personalities and treat us as individuals.

Their attitude towards animals is probably more easily understood in the relationship we all have with Frankie Lane. Frankie is the rooster pheasant who lives in our backyard. You may have already guessed the origin of his unique name. Frankie Lane was the 60s western ballad singer of notable tunes like Bullet in My Shoulder, Raw Hide, Bowie Knife, Mule Train, and other western tunes. In fact, Bullett in My Shoulder is the only song Dangerous knows by heart. You ought to get him to sing it for you sometime or maybe not.

Frankie Patrols the Fence Line

Like Frankie Lane the signer, Frankie the pheasant is the last of his kind. Without our small island of open space in a sea of urban blight he wouldn't have a place to live. Today, his island sanctuary is surrounded on three sides by large single family houses and expensive twin homes. Frankie, as if he had another option, has chosen our place to make his last stand, and like the other critters living on our unique farm in the middle of all the suburban sprawl, Frankie works hard to maintain his dignity and independence as the lone surviving wild rooster pheasant around.

Spring Plumage

Today, Frankie is a mere shell of himself. He lives under the sheep camp, coming out to pick through the horse manure for grain. He sulks along the fence lines hoping I won't catch sight of him. When I do, I can't help myself, and send him back over the fence with a quick charge and bark. While Frankie isn't too impressive during the winter months, you ought to see him in the spring.

We know spring is really here when Frankie starts preening, strutting, and crowing. In full plumage, he announces to his nonexistent rivals that he is ready to do battle. While trying to attract the hens that never come, he is ready to take on any rival who might invade his territory. Even in his loneliness, Frankie maintains his dignity by acting like the rooster pheasant he is.

I suspect that Frankie doesn't have much time left as civilization encroaches more and more on his isolated island. I think Dangerous tries to protect him because he sees a bit of himself in Frankie. Like Frankie, Dangerous and his buddies are anachronisms in their own time. The life they value has passed, but like Frankie the pheasant, they won't give up easily. Dangerous is already planning our first wilderness adventure, and when he gets back he will probably replant the pasture again to give the horses a bit more grass and Frankie a place to hangout one last summer. Love to hear from you!


The Barratt Fam said...

#1 if only dangerous treated us humans as well as his animals. If only if only... nuff said
#2 frankie and dangerous are alike in so many ways, very true indeed. We hope to have both frankie and dangerous around for many more summers. One is more beautiful than the other, you decide....
#3 maybe frankie needs a camo sanctuary in the back corner of the pasture. I know someone down the street from you who works for real cheap. Just sayin'

Bluester said...

I've got a hen or two around the place. Frankie would probably enjoy some female company. You can take them home with you next time you're down. Don't need a cage, they'll sit on the center consul of that Chevy Truck. Pay attention and maybe you can learn some Chicken. Remember it's tonal. So what if they're chickens and Frankie is a pheasant. Frankie won't care. Trust me.

Dangerous treats me good. I'd weigh 40 pounds less but for his dutch oven treats. I eat good when Dangerous is around. Best from the Fremont

Max said...

This is a little off point, but I was struck by the fact that Dangerous calls the rooster Frankie Lane... homage to his campfire lifestyle, I suppose. I know a lady down here who just got a pot bellied pig she calls Jimmy Dean. His squeals don't really remind me of Jimmy, must be something else...