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Superman By Day, At Night He’s Just Clark

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by chikkenfriend, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. chikkenfriend

    chikkenfriend Songster

    Dec 2, 2013
    My Coop
    There most certainly are characteristics and traits which we esteem and laud above others. The noble act of fighting for our country is, as it well must be, at the top of the list. Then we have the kindness that goes beyond just being polite and delves into the depths of nurturing love such as is found in a mother toward her children. These traits move and inspire us. These are virtues indeed.

    Animal people, pet owners, and anyone who has loved on some creature other than human, knows how we ascribe human characteristic to our beloved companions. We all know of the loyalty of Man’s Best Friend. Dogs are an easy example of how we anthropomorphize. Is it wrong? I don’t think so. There is virtue aplenty in Fido’s willingness to lay down his life to protect and defend his human. But is there virtue in such a thing that must be the end result since it stems from a hard-wired protein sequence in the DNA of any given creature? Must it behave as it does for it cannot otherwise? I don’t buy it. My roos are my proof.

    I’ve seen it in others, but Beethoven and Jake will sufficiently illustrate my point. One is the epitome of virtue, the other, its antipode. And this is where the whole ‘it’s just a chicken’ argument loses its footing. For here are two roos, both Barred Plymouth Rocks, both roughly the same age (Beethoven is 19 weeks, Jake 17), and both raised and living right here with us. These are my chickens.

    Truly some will think me insane, or at least, believe I have no life, when I tell of the words of Chicken-Speak that I’ve learned. That’s alright. But learned I have. The long, soft word tells me that there is an intruder in sight but not yet in striking range. The loud, staccato means the intruder is way too close. I laugh at the wildly random word that to human ears means ‘I have a treasure, I have a treasure’, but to chicken ears means ‘Come steal the grasshopper I just caught’. The most interesting one is the mid-volume, rhythmic chant that, once started, every chicken around joins in on. It means snake. I’ve heard this one several times. They all come running to see the snakes.

    As with humans, the range of vocabulary also varies in chickens. There is a word that elicits a definite and immediate reaction of all my hens. That Beethoven is the only one to use this word is the impetus for writing this and the evidence to prove that not all roosters are the same. When Beethoven finds some treat, some food, or even a patch of new tender grass, his virtue is made known. He isn’t one to hog it up, all others be ******. No. He calls out with his ‘I have something delicious for you’. And the hens know that it’s true. They flock to him.

    Beethoven is a good provider. He even shares when I hold out a handful of mealworms for him. This isn’t true of Jake. But there are more differences. One will protect his flock from any and all harm, as he is always vigilant and on duty. The other, only brings harm. Jake is a bully. He picks on any hen smaller than he is. Beethoven, on the other hand, moves freely among all hens as none fear him. In fact, he’s usually surrounded by them. One only mounts smaller hens, the other, only mounts mature ones. They are very different, these two.

    It would have been interesting to see how things worked out between them but we’ll never know. Jake is to be sold soon. Though Jake is bigger, I don’t think he’d ever challenge Beethoven, much less displace him. Jake just doesn’t possess the qualities of a leader. He cannot match the virtue clearly shown by his fellow roo. Beethoven is just too much rooster for him. The Superman of the chicken world. Which brings us to the Clark Kent side of him.

    Our birds are free-range. Tractor coops serve as a safe place to sleep, support for waterers and feeders, and a cozy place to lay eggs. Otherwise, our birds are outside. So after a long day of pecking, scratching and laying, when the sun begins to hide itself beneath the horizon, a strange ritual begins. The hens mostly tuck themselves in. We just have to close and lock the coops though, on occasion, maybe have to round up a straggler who just had to have one more grasshopper before bed. Not so with Beethoven, however.

    Bedtime changes him. He doesn’t go to bed. He won’t go in. Beethoven follows me as I make my rounds, gathering hens, locking doors, and saying good night. He’s right behind me. Then, when all others (including Jake) are in safely in bed, Beethoven wants lovin’. I’ll hold out my arm and he flies up to it. Then I sit on the swing or the lawn chair and he roosts on my shoulder. We talk for a while, going over the events of the day as we wind down. I’ll lay my head on him and he leans into me. Were it up to him, this is where we’d stay until morning brings the hens out again. I have to take him off of my shoulder. This is when I pet him, and do that scratching thing he taught me. He likes it when we scratch at the new rooster feathers on his neck and chest. Beethoven loves to be held. He enjoys being loved on. Then I have to put him to bed.

    I’d never imagined that a chicken, much less a rooster, could be so loving. Sure, the hens follow us everywhere, they jump into our laps, and some even like to sit on my better half’s head (an interesting sight indeed). But this rooster changes everything. Chickens aren’t dumb, heartless birds to be tolerated only for their nutritional value. They have hearts. Each one has a personality all its own and the ability to care and to cherish. Chickens are people too.

    I know, I’ve crossed the line. I’m to be counted among those we’ve all heard about. And you thought the weird cat-lady was bad. Until now, that is. You’re probably thinking that I’m not playing with a full deck, right? But I can’t help it. There is just something about Beethoven that goes beyond that of an ordinary chicken. He is Superman and he is Clark Kent. There just isn’t any other way to describe him.

    He’s a good roo.
    [​IMG] This is Beethoven. [​IMG]
  2. Free as a Bird

    Free as a Bird Chirping

    Aug 20, 2014
    New England
    That is such a heart warming story! Thank you so much for lightening my day!
    1 person likes this.
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    lol that was funny... But I know what you mean, they are complex and pretty likeable little animals. But one does sound like a nutter when explaining some things you see, it's inevitable. ;) Also, kudos to you for having the consideration for your hens to remove the male who bullies them and keep the one who does his job right. Quality of life for all birds is important; too many people settle for quality of life for males alone, or in all-female flocks it's quality of life for bullies alone. Neither male nor female bullies should have their quality of life prioritized above any others, yet so often non-bullies are deemed the faulty ones and deprived of their chance of living in favor of a nasty individual.

    I also don't believe it's all 'anthropomorphizing' either --- their gentle and benign social qualities, of loyalty and affection, also exist in the wild state, both in dogs and chickens as well as other animals... They can become quite attached to, and be quite caring of, others in their family groups, above and beyond the most basic instincts and outside of the normal social units and bonds. 'Grooming' and so forth doesn't cover all their behaviors with which they express affection. Emotions are measurable endocrine responses, not just figments of the human imagination or experience exclusively, so the often repeated 'anthropomorphizing' dismissal will have to be reviewed in light of the knowledge being discovered. It's outdated and more than a bit biologically ignorant, now that we know they can be depressed, enraged, happy, and so forth... All emotions. Not just a biological machine reacting unthinkingly with its inherited pre-programmed responses to stimuli, at all. Heck, they can even reason... Studies also show chickens are one of the domestic animals proven to be able to learn compassion, too.

    I recently had a fox take my female turkey and the male is depressed. This is interesting, as I've not seen a male turkey respond so badly to losing a mate; didn't think that they cared, being males of a species who naturally have a very, very limited social interaction with females. I used to think that animals were unthinking machines but my experience with various species doesn't back that up at all, in fact it aggressively demolishes that flimsy construct.

    Best wishes.
    1 person likes this.
  4. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Crowing

    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    The "stories" section of BYC is definitely the place where the description of Beehtoven the rooster will be appreciated. People who don't have familiarity with chickens don't realize that a flock of chickens is really a pretty complex social group. But most of us who frequent BYC have had the opportunity to watch chickens and know they are each feathered individuals. Some of the behavior you describe, like calling over the hens to eat first is part of the alpha rooster role. It even has a name - "tidbitting." But I have had enough roosters to know that the way a rooster assumes the role of leadership varies, it is not just unthinking, instinctual behavior . Certainly the Clark Kent side of Beethoven's personality reflects a real bond between chicken and human.

    I often like to put in a good word for roosters when people say they are all trouble. Clearly your story shows it can be a real joy to know a rooster.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Frindizzle

    Frindizzle Guitar Girl <3 Premium Member

    What a wonderful story! Just seems like the rooster I would want :D
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  6. chikkenfriend

    chikkenfriend Songster

    Dec 2, 2013
    My Coop

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