What is a field hockey stick good for? Playing field hockey, of course, but our employee Joan uses hers to fend off a rooster.
Roo, who is small and white, was given to us last year when we had only five chickens. He came from a home with two roosters, and he was getting the worst of the rivalry. At first, he was well behaved, managing his little flock. He was quiet and timid. Then the farm started accumulating hens. Sixteen came to us from a relationship breakup, then 12 more were given to the farm for a total of 33 of what husband Bruce calls "unexplained chickens."
Now Roo has 33 lovely ladies to protect, and he takes his job seriously; he attacks. Not everyone. He is selective. Certain clothing or bare skin seems to set him off. He usually ignores me, but one time when I wore white pants into the barnyard, he flew at me, too. Recently he decided that Joan, a new shorts-wearing employee, was to be subdued.
Joan was feeding the mini-pigs when Roo, who'd been hiding behind the tractor flew out feet first with wings flapping, claws out, scratching and pecking at her knees and ankles. His sharp claws drew blood on her bare legs, but apparently, the soft pads of his feet diminished the impact.
"It was weird feeling those cushy pads against my legs as he flew wings flapping, feet outstretched at me. I wonder if he knows those soft pads curtail his charge?" said Joan. She needed a defensive plan.
She drew on her experience as a varsity field hockey player at Woodstock (Vt.) High School, and it worked. Joan holds her old hockey stick at arm's length as she walks through the barnyard. Roo walks next to her watching her with one eye, as she keeps the stick between them, occasionally swinging it as she used to on the hockey field. When she swings, agile Roo cackles as he flaps out of reach. He's quick and always dodges safely away. He's waiting for her to let down her guard.
We warn guests wearing white pants or shorts they should carry a stick or at least watch out for the white rooster. During events, we lock him in the chicken house.
I’m a cow person, not a bird person. Chicken management is not my thing. But I can tell you that Roo overestimates his importance at Miles Smith Farm. We value eggs more than chicks and harmony more than excitement.