I was sitting out on my back patio this week enjoying the homestead.
As I sit in the shade I can look at the grape vines woven into the lattice of the patio. I can see the strawberry patch, with white flowers beginning to pop up everywhere. I watch Mrs. Arable and her three chicks sunning themselves in the pen of the lower coop – the chicks occasionally having a scrap about who is bigger and stronger. And I can see the hens and the rooster in the barnyard, scratching and pecking their way around, the guardian dog, laying in the sun watching over it all from her pen next to the barnyard.
The sounds include the many different songs of the wild birds, the clucking announcement of a hen that just laid an egg followed by the chorus of other hens joining her, and the buzzing of a fat bumblebee heading for a strawberry flower.
Then I hear a different sound. The special call of the rooster to warn his hens of danger. All the hens quickly dart through the small door into their enclosed pen attached to their coop. The rooster watches them each go through and then goes through himself, after they are all in. Just as he ducks through the small door and shadow crosses over the barnyard and the guard dog starts growling and barking towards the sky.
I look up, and there is a bald eagle flying low over the barnyard. A beautiful sight to be sure. Stunning, majestic, and surprisingly large when seen at this closer distance. The stark contrast of the bright yellow beak to the white head and tail and the brown/black body almost takes my breath away. It is such a beautiful creation – but not something I want to see dining on my chickens in the barnyard.
I am grateful that the rooster is being such a good guardian of his hens. Watching over them and doing his best to protect the flock. It can be a hassle having a rooster with the hens – no matter how many hens he has he always has his few favorite wives and their backs get torn up badly. But there are definitely benefits too, like him guarding them from aerial predators.