Before we moved to the farm, we had a pet hen named Chick Chick who lived in our back yard in the heart of town on C Street. Chad and I both like chickens. They have a unique personality and are quite loyal. Chick Chick grew up with our three dogs and was more like a canine than a bird. Our experience with chickens was always pleasant.
After we moved to the farm and settled in, we decided it would be fun to get a few more. Besides, who doesn’t like fresh eggs every morning?? Tractor Supply receives a truck load of chicks every spring and we were the first customers that year. Unfortunately, no one can tell boys from girls while wearing their yellow fluff. You have to choose and hope you get hens and not roosters.
We picked out 12 of the cutest and most lively chicks out of 150. We took them home, put them in a guinea pig cage with a heat lamp and placed them squarely in the middle of the kitchen so we could bond! Also, it gave the dogs something to whine and bark at. Our babies grew into gangly teenagers, that stage where they are half feathers and half fuzz. They soon developed a pecking order and we could tell there were at least three roosters in the bunch.
One of the boys grew big and strong with beautiful shiny blue-tinted black feathers with an unusually curled tail. He was a handsome rooster. When the weather broke and they had more feathers, we moved them outside to their permanent home. The pen featured nesting boxes with wooden poles to roost on at night. They had lots of straw to hide their eggs in and dirt to scratch. We even gave them a sand box for rolling around in so they could clean dirty feathers and attract positive human attention.
Our chickens were full grown by fall and each had his or her own personality. Chick Chick was still with us but she lived in the back yard with the dogs in her own little coop. She didn’t like other chickens and didn’t want anything to do with them. The big black rooster soon dominated the other chickens and was obviously ruler of the roost. He also had no use for humans and made it clear every time we went into their coop to feed them.
By the time summer came around the following year, they were mostly outside enjoying the freedom of pecking bugs off the tall green grass, having free range of the yard and pastures. Our rooster was very protective of his flock and soon followed us whenever we came out. He began to stalk us, watching every move. If we got close to him or the hens, he would run towards us, flapping his wings, neck out stretched but always stopping before he completed the attack. At that time he knew better. We always stood our ground with him. Never, ever, turn your back on a rooster and never let him chase you or win a battle!
At the time, he still didn’t have a name, that is, until the day he decided that he was stronger and tougher than any human besides always-wearing-large-boots Chad. He came after me one day in full speed and flying through the air with his feet sideways like a Ninja! If I hadn’t quickly stepped to the side, he would’ve nailed me on the calf. From that day on, we called him Lucifer as he deceptively waited for you to turn your back and assault the most sensitive or vulnerable skin available.
He lived up to his name! Every day that dang rooster got braver and with conniving meanness. He would perch himself on a low branch or under a bush, watching, waiting for us to come out. He planned his attacks, coming at us as soon as we came into sight, flying Bruce Lee style. Lucifer got kicked in the head, in self-defense, many times, but he always got up and ran after us again and again.
Lucifer’s stealth plan also included an air campaign known as morning pre-dawn crowing. With the sun still fast asleep, he would wake up extra early, cross the lawn, face our bedroom window and scream out the morning battle cry. Guests, other barn animals, and anything that seemed to infringe on his undefined territory were also not exempt from Lucifer’s mania as he would dare all to cross some imaginary line. Once in a while, he would go after mini-horse Sparky or challenge the goats to a ‘butting’ contest. The goats kept a safe distance. The horses were not intimidated, however, letting Lucifer know that they had hard hooves and knew how to use them. Hooves or horns didn’t faze him, getting knocked down was a regular occurrence by Laci and yet he still pecked at those horses.
One day, after making sure ALL the chickens were in the far field, I took my toddler grandson Isaac out so he could see the animals and give ‘hugging goat’ Dillon a squeeze. That dang rooster saw us from what seemed a mile away and did a bee line toward us with a squawking war cry. I scooped up Isaac and ran for the gate, but didn’t make it before he got me. That hell-bent bird seared the back of my thigh leaving a deep 2” long scratch! Isaac screamed in terror as I fought off the huge black nightmare who seemed bent on more blood. Needless to say, Lucifer met Mr. Addie’s companion in these type situations, Mr. Axe. We put him in the freezer, but I could not bring myself to eat that evil bird. I ended up putting Lucifer the rooster where he belonged … in the trash.