Chicken Diaries: How Happy got his mojo back and other stories of kindly bosses

Happy can not allow a loosey goosey, orderless flock.  He is not prepared to have his hens going willy nilly about the garden without permission, and this issue of Rosey and Star Moon pairing off for a teen love affair can not under any conditions happen under Happy’s watch.

He is running emergency drills every few minutes and keeping his crew under tight watch.  He has to keep order as the head rooster.  He’d take a hawk for these chickens and in return he needs them to follow his every command.  How else can he protect them?

Heavy is the head that wears the comb but someone has to do it and it is Happy’s destiny. He knows that truth despite the exhaustion and frustration he’s currently grappling with as the chickens, now teens, want to explore more freedom and discover what brings them fulfillment without considering what they’ll do should a dog get through the fence or a hawk swoops overhead. They don’t have to bear the burden of such scenarios. That’s Happy’s job.

It’s now coming to shove from push, from peck to kick and Happy needs a re-start with his flock. They’re independently minded and they are beginning to ignore his command, especially his girlfriend Henny who is flying around the yard and roosting as she chooses without so much as a “may I?”  He goes to have a firm discussion with her, the peck on the shoulder and puffed up neck feathers but she is unmoved. She just gets up and takes off flying. He can’t keep up. She can outfly him, despite his pretty strong skills, with one wing behind her back. She’s a hen savant when it comes to going airborne.

Rosey karate kicks him when he orders her to join the others and even the little Silkie girls who softly coo and sit primly are deciding to range off course. Star Moon the Zen Master rooster is not disrespectful but he often finds his own space away from the group.  Happy has to re-think his approach. What worked with baby chicks, even when he was also one, is no longer cutting it.

Then it happens. The moment to show why he is the head chicken arrives.  A group of people show up in the chicken garden. They are kindly building a chicken run.  Happy does not know the drill– literally the drill, the saw, the nails and the people who are working in his garden.  He does not know the children either who have come along and would like a nice chicken to embrace. Happy cannot know these people and tools are here for his benefit.  He knows that should a threat arise he must neutralize it.

Here is how Happy found his mojo.  As a smart, kind and people oriented rooster he knows the people will not hurt him, yet he must be vigilant. In his personal experience people are kind. Despite his fabulous hearing the sound of power tools do not frighten him even though he does not know what they are doing with the people. He has heard them before due to various house projects. Being the kind of roo he is, Happy is not frightened.  He moves out front with the other chickens in a v formation behind him and walks through the yard looking like a cross between a General and a front man for a rock band.

He is a striking bird with black and white feathers, pale white-yellow legs like faded daisies or new spring grass and a comb of translucent deep pink.  He is compact and irresistible to human beings. Every child in the group and half the adults want to hold him. He allows it and through his guidance shows the other chickens how to manage all this without fear.

After a few cuddling sessions he brings his group back under the rose bushes and sweetly grooms them. They are enchanted by their leader once again understanding his wisdom. His girlfriend sits next to him with her orange-brown feathers fanning out like a generous ball gown spilling around her delicate feet.  The Silkies and their shear cuteness, top hats fanning around their small faces, short wings draped out with feathers as delicate as flower petals are in adoration and the powerful and hopelessly authentic Rosey bows her head seated next to her bo-Star Moon. Happy has abandoned forbidding their romance and they are keeping a close but appropriate distance.

As the evening continues the shift is in full gear.  The leader strides atop the good will of his flock and he returns it with a new gentility, he has shifted from demanding respect to earning it.

Chickens are not casual acquaintances. Happy is there, quite literally, to defend his beloved flock to the death and he steps up without hesitation. His loyalty is returned with admiration and love. If he does his job with too much control his group will love him but will suffer under his tyranny and have bouts of rebellion. If he leads with kindness and respect they will return it in full measure and then some.

Happy is resting peacefully and his joy is apparent as he sits to the side and watches the others peck at corn on the cob, both eating it and playing with it. There is keep away, soccer, snack and repeat.  Rosey glances at him as the willful head hen and they exchange a look of understanding. She plays like a small chick with the others knowing the wisdom of a young hen on her way to adulthood.  Rosey is also kind. She has the strength to pick up the corn and peck the cob clean if she felt like it but she would rather play and share.

Mojo is a funny thing. It often returns with greater strength once lost for a time. Happy thought his leadership to be all just natural talent until he briefly lost his mojo.  Experience and a willingness to step back taught him talent only goes so far. The truth of mojo is that it most often comes with discipline and good intentions. 

He stands and lets off a crow. It is not a warning or wake up but an expression of joy. He looks at me and cocks his head slightly and prances past me.  If a rooster could wink that’s what he did.

A rooster with good mojo is about the happiest thing you’ll ever see.  A flock enjoying that mojo is a well and abundant group. Watching how it’s really made is something best learned by observing a strong teacher in action who can move beyond his ego and yours to bring the full understanding of loving kindness and all of its gifts.

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