I have chickens and roosters. It kind of started by accident. Our neighbor had them and then they moved and we took care of them. Then we adopted them. Then we lost some. And by then I was hooked and needed more. Then we lost some more. Then I adopted more from a friend… Well, you get the point.
I’m probably the laziest chicken keeper around, but we get some fresh eggs and it’s fun to watch their behavior. Through all the adding and loosing of poultry, Big Roo has been a constant. At this point he’s an old rooster. He’s pretty too! He’s lost his tail feathers more times than I care to count, but they always grow back. I’ve learned a few things from Big Roo. Small things, important things. Things worth remembering.
Big Roo protects his flock. Never in a mean way, but always making sure they are safe. He sounds the alarm when needed and takes the hit so the girls can get away. We free range and occasionally our dogs get out of their pen (or a pesky toddler lets them out) and, well, you can guess what happens. So Big Roo looses his feathers doing his darndest to protect the girls.
And sometimes he gets hurt. When that happens (one time we were afraid his injury was too bad), he hides away, protecting himself and taking the time needed to heal. When we get hurt by the unintentional attacks of others, we should also take time to retreat and heal.
When we take treats out for the flock, Big Roo always calls them over, making sure the girls get the treats first. Did you know that’s a character trait of roosters? They make sure women and children get fed first. The only male animal to do so.
One of the greatest things about Big Roo, however, has been watching him train up the next generation of rooster. We got some birds that were a couple of months old, but not sexed. We ended up with 2 more roosters. Big Roo taught them how to crow, first showing them, then waiting for them to crow in return. As the new roosters grew, Big Roo continued to give them crowing lessons, showing them how to care for the girls, putting them in line when they tried to get out of line, and giving them some freedom to learn. Big Roo was able to judge which of the two was going to be a better rooster and started to mentor that rooster more than the other. Today, they work together to keep the girls safe, fed and rounded up at the end of the night. Captain Crunch knows he’s the second in command, but Big Roo trusts him enough to take a couple of the girls off on their own adventure, away from his sight but always within crowing distance. Big Roo is about the best mentor I have ever seen.
Wonder what would happen if I were a little more like Big Roo?