I love my chickens! I think that is a sentiment most farmers and homesteaders have. I've had chickens all of my life, and they have always been a source of great pleasure and entertainment to me.
When I was small, I remember playing in the back yard making mud pies or building cities with small stones. The chickens were always there, scratching, clucking, and coming over to observe and critique.
Chickens are friendly creatures and curious by nature. They actually make very good companions.
We've had several roosters over the years of various breeds. My favorite seems to be the one we have now. He's a short, stocky little guy I call Prince Albert.
I named him after Daddy's favorite tobacco. I'm not sure what breed he is, as I usually buy chicks for their appearance rather than specific breeding. But Albert is a real treasure.
Many human husbands could take lessons from my Albert. He is protective, responsible, and loves his flock very much.
All day he struts about the yard, watching the sky for predators and the ground for goodies to feed his girls. If a shadow crosses the ground, Albert is running and crowing and calling the girls up under the trees, or the back porch.
If I throw out food, Albert comes running. He clucks and does a dance until the girls gather around.
Then he stands back while they all have a share. Only when everyone else has eaten, will Albert help himself to what remains. I have even seen him pick up a piece and lay it before one of the girls who has been repeatedly pushed back by more aggressive hens and hasn't yet gotten a bite.
But that is nothing compared to Albert's sense of duty. One day, shortly after I let some young hens join the flock, Albert brought one up onto the porch where I sat reading.
I have two steps leading down from my back door onto the porch and the hens have made nests there. Its quite nice because I can just step out of my back door and have fresh eggs.
Albert brought one of the new young hens upon the porch, went to the nests, did a little dance and looked at her. She looked back as if to say "So what?" Then Albert climbed into one of the nests, clucked, danced and hopped back out.
The hen looked into the nest, looked at Albert, and waited. Albert repeated the performance, and the little hen climbed into the nest and settled down.
Albert, in turn, settled down on the porch to wait. After a time, she began to cackle and exited leaving a nice brown egg.
Albert followed her off the porch and I returned to my book. But in a few moments, Albert was back with another new hen and again showed her the nest.
This time the hen went right in, and Albert settled down to wait. Eventually, Albert introduced all four of my new little hens to the nests under the steps, and I just sat there in amazement at the intelligence of my rooster.
Albert truly is a Prince among roosters. If only all humans were as intelligent and thoughtful!
All photos belong to the author.