I have decided that stress never actually goes away, it simply migrates from one issue to another. Case in point: I used to be stressed that the neighbors were going to eventually complain about Gretchen and his morning "singing." And afternoon singing. And evening singing. Whoever said roosters only crow in the morning to announce the rising sun was either lying or a rooster salesman, trying to saddle some poor sap with a rooster. In fact, roosters crow all day long, whenever and wherever the mood strikes them. Not that we don't love Gretchen - we do - we just don't love the volume with which he announces himself. Enter the crow collar.
The crow collar is an simple Velcro and fabric device that wraps around the rooster's neck and can be tightened or loosened as needed, to help control the volume of the crowing. I made one and we put it on Gretchen several months ago but over the course of the summer he has gotten progressively louder so we determined it was time to tighten the collar a bit. We did that a couple days ago and it has worked like a charm - his volume is down by at least half and the frequency with which he's crowing is much reduced as well. I can only assume that he is so disheartened with the sad state of his once proud crow that he no longer feels the urge to announce himself so often.
The problem is this: now that the collar is tighter and the stress of the neighbors getting mad is alleviated, I am stressed that the collar is tight enough to prevent Gretchen from eating normally and may be irritating his skin. We have tested his ability to eat and he seems to be doing okay but I may try to get him on a scale somehow and track his weight over the course of several weeks to make sure that he actually is eating acceptably. We will monitor his skin at the same time. If Gretchen maintains his weight and his skin stays normal I can stop worrying about him and get on to worrying about the next issue, which will undoubtedly come up sooner than I would like - such is life on the Unfarm.