My Forty Years Scribblin's
Other Ramblin's
The Cowboy Rooster

This children's story and coloring book was self-published in 1994. Mildred's daughter, Judith Lease supplied the illustrations.

Billy Bantam flapped his little wings and sang out a very tuneful "Cock-a-Doodle-do-doo-oo."

"It's such a fine morning," said he, "I'd like to fly away from this old hen yard and see the world."

"This is our world," said Mrs. Bantam. "Now please come and help me scratch up some worms for our chicks."

"Scratch up worms!" Billy groaned. "I can think of much nicer things to do on such a beautiful day." He flapped his wings again and sauntered away to get a nice fresh drink.

Mildred’s daughter, Judith Lease supplied the illustrations.This proud little rooster had never seen his feet, for his plump little chest always hid them from view. But now, as he was about to dip his yellow beak in the water, he could see his image in the pond. He blinked, then looked again. He ran back to Mrs. Bantam so fast his feet scarcely touched the ground.

"Look at me, Wife," he chattered. "I must be a cowboy. I have chaparajos on my legs!"

Mrs. Bantam adjusted her spectacles. "Looks like feathers to me," she said, and went on scratching. Billy paid her no heed. He went on strutting and chattering in great excitement.

"Goin' to get me a great big horse and ride away to the round-up," he boasted.

"But if you go away who will crow to wake Master Tommy in the morning? Now please come and help me scratch up some breakfast for our chicks."

"Woman, I will not be hen pecked!" Billy spoke sternly. And then to his surprise he saw Master Tommy's stick horse lying near the water's edge.

"Just what I need," Billy declared. "Now, Wife, you must stitch me a back pack and fix my lunch so I can be off to the round-up."

"Very well, if you must," sighed Mrs. Bantam as she went into their little coop to find her needle and thread. Billy practiced walking; swinging his yellow legs with their feather chaparajos and feeling more like a cowboy every minute.

Mrs. Bantam fastened the new back pack filled with grains of wheat around his middle. Feeling very grand he stepped astride the stick horse and pranced right up to Rover, the farm dog, who stood looking on in amazement. Rover shook his head and said "Bark-Bark" but Billy laughed gleefully and started off to find a round-up.

Billy knew about a hole under the fence and this naughty rooster squeezed through and pulled the stick horse after him. He crossed a pasture where some cows were eating grass all wet with dew.

"You may have your old pasture," he called out. "I am riding far away to round up some dogies and sleep out under the stars."

Soon he reached a meadow dotted with big green bales of hay.

"Well," Billy told the stick horse, "where there's hay there must be dogies and where there's dogies there's got to be a round-up."

There were lots of sleepy grasshoppers in the meadow and Billy was very fond of them, but he could not stop for breakfast this morning. He might be late for the round-up. He rode the stick horse on and on but he never came to the end of the meadow.

"Goodness," he said. "how very large the world is! Well, I'll go this way a while," he decided. But although he went that way until his little legs ached and he was all out of breath, there was still nothing in sight but big green bales of hay.

"If I didn't have to carry this back pack," Billy thought aloud, "the going would be much easier." So he pulled the string that held the pack and let it fall to the ground, forgetting that he was throwing away his lunch.

The sun was now high above his head and Billy was a very tired and lost little rooster. He was hungry but the grasshoppers were too lively for him in the noon sun and how he wished he had taken time for a meal in the cool and dewy morning. He hopped up on an extra-large bale of hay to look about and to his delight, right before him was a beautiful field of grain.

"Oh goody-goody." Billy chortled. "Now I can pull down some of those tall stems and have a nice lunch of wheat before I go on to the round-up!"

Then he looked behind him to see how far he had come and there among the green bales came a slinking gray shadow. He knew that gray shadow. It was old Kenny Coyote, and wouldn't that old coyote just love to have a fat little rooster for lunch!

"Awk!" Billy screamed. He jumped the stick horse down from the bale and rode as fast as he could to hide in the grain field. He could hear the pad-pad of animal feet coming closer and closer and oh, how he wished he had invited Rover to share his adventure.

Now he could feel the hot breath of Kenny Coyote on his back. The stick horse caught in the tall grain and Billy jumped right over it's black oil cloth head, leaving it in the path of his enemy. He found a muddy irrigating ditch and ran down it for a way, then darted into the grain again. This time he ran in another direction, leaving that mean old coyote looking for him in the wrong places. But not for long. Old Kenny coyote found the muddy trail, too, with it's trail of little rooster tracks, and Billy had to run for his life.

Poor little rooster. But when he thought he just couldn't run any further he suddenly burst out of the grain field. There before him was a garden. And right across the garden was a familiar high wire fence. There came the click of sharp teeth and a stab of pain. Billy knew that he had lost a lot of his beautiful tail feathers.

"AWK!" He cried in fear. Then he heard an answering "Bark-Bark," and Rover came to the rescue. Billy's joy was so great that he gave a few extra strong flaps with his wings and sailed right over that fence and right into his own hen yard.

Rover chased old Kenny Coyote back into the grain field and Mrs. Bantam and all the little Bantam chicks hurried over to welcome Billy home.

"Daddy, when I grow up I'm going to be a cowboy and ride away to the round-up, just like you." one little chick declared. "See, I have chaparajos on my legs!" Billy gave a rueful glance toward his one remaining tail feather, then studied the tiny legs of his offspring.

"Looks like feathers to me," he said. "Come along now. We are going down by the pond and scratch up some nice juicy worms for our supper."