I never would have guessed that I’d turn into a “chicken lady,” you know… one of those. I own chicken pot holders, and I talk to the hens like they’re real people. I’m full-blown Chicken Lady. Crazy Chicken Lady. Or as I prefer to call myself: “Chicken Enthusiast.”
Before getting chickens, I had no idea that they were so full of personality, including many facial expressions and legitimate feelings. They totally are, which is probably why I fell in love with them. They have all the makings of a great pet: they get excited to see you (which is more than I can say about the cat), they provide entertainment and companionship, and they’re even cuddly. Plus, you get eggs! Come on, they make you breakfast!
In the world of chicken-keeping, a “nice” rooster isn’t all that easy to come by. Many turn out mean and downright nasty: ambushing your sweet children in their sand box, and forcing you to carry a big stick in order to defend your life in your own backyard.
Fortunately, we lucked out with one sweet-heart of a rooster! Bolivar has always been my buddy- the moment he spots me outside, he’s by my side. As my best garden helper, he walks down the rows with me, eating the cabbage worms as I pick them off of the kale. He greets most visitors that come to the homestead, he’ll let me hold him for as long as I want, and he’s the first one on my lap when I’m sitting in the lawn chair outside. He’s a peach. (More about our roosters and their personalities when they were younger —> HERE!)
This past spring, Bolivar found himself at the bottom of the pecking order. He spent the summer avoiding a beat-down by Otto the head rooster, being last in line to eat dinner, and trying to sneak in a few minutes alone with the hens before being spotted and chased. Threatened if he comes anywhere close to Otto, and finding that most of the hens don’t really care for his company (unless he’s found a grasshopper), Bolivar has turned into a bit of a loner. Even the ducks don’t want to be seen with him!
I’m his only friend.
He longs for companionship, I can tell by the way his face lights up when he sees me, and the way he relaxes and peacefully chatters when I pick him up. The sunflower seeds probably don’t hurt either…
Bolivar got along fine this summer- with plenty of room to roam he could stay near the flock but still keep his distance from Otto. Plus, I was often outside gardening, moving plants, working on homestead projects and you know… hanging out with the flock: spraying the ducks with the hose and helping the chickens dig up worms. Now that it’s cold out and the ground is covered in snow, the flock stays in a smaller area, I stay in the house, and Bolivar is having a rough time.
We let the flock out every morning and they walk the 20 yards to the duck coop and promptly file, clown-car-style, into the small duck house. There they sit all day. All 15 of them barely fit- it’s cozy, protected from the wind, and they still have a nice view of the yard. Bolivar isn’t welcome, of course.
At first Bolivar would spend the day standing outside the duck house, on one foot, all alone, in the cold and wind. He looked like the saddest, loneliest rooster you ever did see. For days he stood out in the elements, just wishing he could be in the cozy duck house with his flock. Displaced and miserable, his desire to be near the flock was stronger than his hatred of cold wattles, wind and snow.
One cold morning I was startled to hear Bolivar’s crow coming from the back porch. I swung open the door and there he was, he had trudged all the way through the snow to the house, and I greeted him with a smile and a big handful of sunflower seeds. He stayed on the porch all day and I waved at him every time I walked by the window; he perked up every time he saw me.
The next day it was the same thing- instead of staying outside the duck house while all the others were toasty warm inside, he journeyed across the yard and to the porch again. I stepped out several times to visit with him and give him a treat. I even sat out in the cold and put him on my lap; we talked about the weather and how his feathers were golden like the sun.
It’s been a couple weeks since the first time he joined us on the porch, and every day Bolivar has traveled to the porch to hang out with me for the day. Bolivar loves the porch. You can tell when a chicken loves something because it poops all over it… except for the area where the dog can reach when we let him out on his leash. That area is squeaky clean.
Bolivar sits in a big empty flower pot underneath the window, where he can just see into the house, and still get the southern sun… not too shabby. If he were a turkey I might have to call him Peeping Tom. I wave to him all the time, and when he spots me he tilts his head and looks me in the eye, as if to say hello right back. I threatened Karl that I was one chicken-diaper away from letting Bolivar live in the house.
And the amenities, oh the amenities! It started with his own personal food and water dish. If he was going to sit there all day, he’d definitely need something to eat and drink.
Bolivar’s flower pot bed was full of cold dirt- it probably should have some straw to snuggle into.
The porch is protected on three sides, but it can still get windy- Bolivar would need a little more of a wind break.
And certainly we can’t let him walk through deep snow, so we’ll shovel him a path from the coop to the porch. And by “we” I mean “Karl.” Bolivar really appreciates it.
So here we are. The days are getting colder, Bolivar has wriggled his way into our hearts, and Karl and I have had serious talks about chicken diapers (well, I talk… Karl rolls his eye).
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