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Be a Rooster

We have a rooster. We thought we had seven female chickens but they were little chicks so it was pretty hard to know for sure. They are over 4 months old now and the crowing of the Rhode Island Red is an undeniable give-away as to his gender. His role with the others is hard to ignore too. He herds and pecks at the others, clearly in charge. Sometimes, to me, he seems mean and overbearing. They are following him, though. I think they feel protected by him.

We got chickens before we were forced to shelter in place in early March. As with most of you, with CoVid I lost a lot of my connectiveness to others. I felt great loss in this lack of relationship. I am very social so isolating went against my natural impulse, my core. I felt unmoored. The chickens were serendipitous, at the very least. What they did for me was unexpected, unforeseen, and remarkable.

The chickens truly gave me a sense of purpose many days when my old routine was completely gone. In fact, I almost put too much stock in the little chicks, fearful of what would happen to my mental health if one of them did not survive. Raccoons became my mortal enemy because they were the biggest threat to the chickens. We seemed to be constantly stapling more wire to the coop, stronger locks and hinges on the doors.

Now the chickens, with Mr. Rooster, free range all over the farmyard. I leave them during the day without worrying about feral cats or raccoons (who really only come out at night) because they have grown bigger, and they have a ferocious rooster never far from them.

We are all venturing out more since early March, since the beginning of the knowledge of the pandemic. We are trying to be safe with masks and social distancing. But I think the urge to be ‘out’, to free range, is important enough not to ignore. Yes, there are risks but growth, too. Life has to keep happening. We also need to keep one another safe, be each other’s roosters.

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