Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fowl Company

One thing about SSF - one is never alone for long. No matter how one might wish to be. With an Australian Shepherd - also known as the "Velcro breed" for the way they stick to their person - 2 curious cats, 30-something hens, and 2 too many roosters, someone is always interested in whatever I might be tackling.

Even though they arrive in a cardboard box at 1 day old and are bred and shipped in a fairly factory setting, chickens nonetheless develop remarkably unique and quirky personalities. Do a little Googling and I bet you will turn up myriad personal odes to the chicken. They are just a hoot. When they are fist-sized fuzzballs scurrying around an old plastic wading pool or a cut-down fridge box, jostling for position under the heat lamp, it is tough to envision the comic, and at times elegant or even regal, individuals they will soon become.

Our accidental rooster has thus far shown himself to be a gentlemen and therefore has earned himself a place in the SSF family as long as he behaves himself. He is all things Excellent Rooster: stunningly beautiful, proud, quite covetous of his flock, gentle in his...couplings - relatively speaking anyway, courteous to his humans, and he has a magnificent cocka-doodle-do that so far he has limited to respectable hours of the day (unlike the 3AM performances of his predecessor). And, like his girls, he is intensely interested in whatever I am doing right now.

His 2 accidental male counterparts, however, not so much. They are not regal, nor nice, nor particularly interested in protecting the flock. They are, very much, interested in what being a rooster around a bunch of beautiful hens, gets them. They are mean to the hens and oblivious of everything else around them. So, in short, they annoy me immensely. We look forward to enjoying them in Coq au Vin.

So, these guys flounce around chasing and harassing all the hens, but Owl (our Excellent Rooster) and the Girls migrate to scratch and sniff the general vicinity of wherever we happen to be working. I joked yesterday as Dylan, Mark, and I prepared a potato bed inside our deer-fenced veggie garden, that we were like zoo animals - the hens, cats, and dog were all parked just on the other side of the 8-foot fence, watching our goings-on keenly (except the 3 intrepid hens who'd tunneled in and were "helping" us by snatching up every precious worm we overturned). Jessie whined and harumphed occasionally to express the unfairness of it all, and the cats were just generally unimpressed with the whole thing.

So, it's never lonely here. Whatever's on your mind, there's someone to talk to and plenty of fowl gossip to hear. The multi-specied gals and guys of SSF are always up for a good huddle.

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