I have a faculty interview Friday which I should be preparing for, but since everyone needs a break now and then, I’m gifting you a few of my favorite chicken stories from my childhood instead.
We had odd naming conventions for our animals. Our sheep were capitols of the world. Our cats were named after Shakespeare characters. Our chickens were named after kings and queens of the ancient world. I suppose this is what happens when a family of highly creative homeschoolers with a quirky sense of humor starts a small farm, but I digress…
We purchased a flock of Buff Orpingtons. They were beautiful golden-brown birds, and a heritage breed (i.e., not a modern hybrid). We named the rooster William the Conqueror, and he was a handsome and lordly bird. Unfortunately, around this time we were gifted a small bantam rooster, and he looked on William the Conqueror’s perch with a covetous eye. In due course, the small bantam challenged the lordly William to a rooster duel. Whether or not there was cheating, the bantam won, killing William and also earning himself the name John the Usurper (aka, Prince John from the Robin Hood tales). He then began a habit of flying up onto the roof of the house and crowing loudly at 6am. This led to a further loss of favor from all of us, and ultimately we cut John the Usurper’s reign short. His burial was ignominious.
.A couple of years later we acquired a Cochin rooster. Cochins are enormous, with feather-covered feet, and I remember this one being about two feet tall (I was maybe 9 at the time and a short child). I believe we called him Richard the Lionhearted; regardless, he was the undisputed king of the barnyard. He also had a mean streak and was clever. From previous encounters with roosters, I knew they could fly up into your face and peck at you, and I suspected that a 2-foot tall rooster would have an advantage at this. So when he started chasing me, I ran. Unfortunately, this became a regular occurrence. One day, he chased me back around until I hid up on top of the manure pile, far away from the chicken coop. He wandered off, and eventually I decided it was safe to head back to the house (the chicken coop was between me and the house). Still, to be safe, I cautiously skirted the nearest building and peaked around the far corner… and there he was, peering back at me. Apparently, he had been waiting for my return. I don’t recall how the standoff resolved, but shortly after that, we gifted Richard to some friends who did not let him roam freely.