Seven chickens live under a big western sky growing up in the backyard of our vegan family. While they are friends and meant to live care free for as long as they may, life still presents its challenges and opportunities for personal growth.
Star Moon is trying hard to fit in. He’s the last to reach puberty in the coop and his awkward stage is impressively painful. As a Silkie rooster he is supposed to be small and quiet with a timid personality. But the poor kid never got the memo so he’s the tallest chicken in his coop of six others and he can’t stop himself from crowing at the worst possible times of day and night. He’s living up to his name by his night crowing with the moon which jars his coop mates into a cluster of cackles and rage. Add to that the fact that his crow is incredibly loud and sounds like screaming and you’ve got a bird on the last frayed nerves of fellow chickens.
Star also looks like many young males going through their change. His skin is oddly colored and spotty, his do is shabby like a straggly beard coming in at different lengths and his feet are so huge he trips on them every time he tries to look cool and hop up on the roosting bar like the other chickens.
It’s a hard life for a confused pubescent chicken without a dad to guide him through it.
Then there’s the issue of dating. Star Moon thought he would just grab a hen by the neck and jump on her back whenever he felt like it. Violence and sexuality are often bundled together in media so we never let him watch movies, but somehow he’s picked up this brutish behavior.
Even though Robin Thicke can get a hit song out of the alleged “Blurred Lines” between saying no but not meaning it, in the chicken world they understand there is not much ambiguity. Hens either fight or accept a mate. Star Moon is not being accepted but instead shunned in the coop by every other chicken except his twin sister Dandelion who huddles sweetly under the neck of her giant and confused brother as a show of support for the chick he once was and could be again, a wise and considerate guy.
The head rooster, jaunty Happy, has been teaching the sexy slip of the wing accompanied by a very subtle dance and romantic cooing technique but Star Moon is stubborn. The hens run from him before he can so much as think of jumping on them.
So now he is faced with only one conclusion; give up or change.
He sits quietly alone, soulfully in the corner for days. He comes out for an occasional bite or drink but otherwise remains sequestered in his sad but thoughtful isolation. Sometimes the only option is to look inward for solutions.
On a crisp morning while Summer begins its tip toe toward Fall, Star Moon begins his bold walk toward being a new chicken. He’s let himself out of the corner of the coop and grazes slowly in the flower beds side by side with the object of his boyhood desire, Rosie the hen. She is nearly his height and certainly his spirited match. She is dressed in black with a fiery red comb. She rejects him so often it hurts to see him stand near her. I want to save them both the embarrassment.
She walks away. He doesn’t chase her. He waits for her to come back to him and she does. Then does something entirely unexpected happens, so much so that Rosie cackles in shock.
Star Moon launches into a dance routine so intricate, so challenging given his over sized feet and so creative that we (Rosie, myself and the other chickens) could not take our eyes off of him.
He begins with a side step shuffle, drops a left wing deeply to his ankles, then turns the other way and drops a right wing and holds it there while glancing over his shoulder at Rosie with an exaggerated quick neck snap followed by a soldier straight stance, feet together and neck high to show off his tall handsomeness. Then he caps it off with a crow so sincere even skeptical Rosie could not doubt his promise to protect and serve.
While the rest of us disperse to allow some privacy for the possible couple Rosie stays behind next to Star Moon. She stops short of inviting him back to her nesting box but she chats intimately and shares her favorite spot by the onions. Star Moon is for all the world a happy rooster.
Since the morning of his dance he is calmer, walks with more confidence and I’d have to say seems to be growing into himself.
Harmony is returned to the coop and no one seems happier to see it than Star Moon.
Changing himself proved much harder than changing the world around him but the results speak for themselves as he sits a feathers width from Rosie and watches dreamily as she eats.