Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mr. Rooster and His New Flock of "Hens"

For twenty years we have raised chickens so that we could have “farm fresh” eggs for breakfast. A few months back my wife received a text from Veronica asking if my wife would like a Faverolles rooster. This rooster had been hand raised and was “very friendly.” He needed a new home where he could crow and not wake up the neighbors. We did not want fertilized eggs, so we let him live with the sheep, who lived next to the hens.

Unfortunately, somehow raccoons, skunks, or coyotes figured out how to get into the chicken coop and only one hen and Mr. Rooster survived. One night my daughter came home late and did not put the chickens away. The next morning on my way out the driveway, I saw a pile of feathers. I thought that was it: Mr. Rooster had joined his hens in the great coop above. But upon returning home that night, Mr. Rooster greeted my pickup at the top of the driveway and patiently waited for me to open my door.

Without his beloved hens, I was his new best buddy. I never knew roosters could be so smart, although I was once defeated by a chicken in tic-tac-toe. Now he waits at the top of the driveway for my truck to come home. He then follows me to the front door of the house and waits for me to come back out and feed him some scratch. Since his hens were gone, he had no reason to go back down the hill and roost with the sheep. Instead, he found some new four-legged chickens with long ears, who liked to hop around in their cages. Mr. Rooster seemed to enjoy these new hybrid rabbit-chickens and even adopted their garage as his new home. So now www.newzealandreds.com has a new mascot: Mr. Rooster. He has adopted our herd of New Zealands as his new family. He proudly flies to the top of their stacking cages to survey his dominion, and to my surprise, the rabbits do not seem to mind: no going crazy running in circles, no piggy squeals, no thumping of cage floors.

I have to admit, I don’t enjoy his nightly deposits on the garage floor, but how can I break his heart?

Yesterday, Mr. Rooster once again almost joined his beloved hens in the sky. Squawking and all sorts of strange sounds broke out on our front porch and my daughter started screaming for me to come and help. Anna, our Anatolian Pyrenees, had Mr. Rooster in her mouth. Upon being scolded, Anna  released Mr. Rooster, who now lay wet and motionless in my daughter’s arms.

Mr. Rooster recovered; flapped his wings; walked into the garage; flew to his roost; and crowed. He was content and he had a new story to share with his long-eared hens. I closed the garage door and turned out the light. Mr. Rooster was on duty and watching over his new flock; he would have something new to crow about in the morning.