Today I learned how to deal with an angry rooster, and I do mean that literally, not metaphorically.
Beau Leigh is my daughter Liz’s rooster up here in Ojai and he apparently doesn’t take too kindly to anybody but Liz or her husband Ron coming into the chicken pen. Granted, he is protecting 5 hens so that makes sense, but when you are the recipient of his wrath, well, let’s just say it’s a bit intimidating. Yesterday, I went in with Liz so Beau Leigh could get used to me. She can walk in and out and he doesn’t react at all; however, let me come in and he is ready to peck and fly at me. We were almost finished gathering the eggs (well, Liz was gathering and I was trying to just stand there and not be afraid) when Liz told me to go on out. When I turned to go, Beau Leigh flew at me for one last peck. I will admit that I was so rattled that I slammed the gate and Liz suggested that it was just luck that I didn’t snap poor Beau Leigh’s little neck.
This morning, Liz and Ron were gone and it was just me and Beau Leigh. I had on long pants, closed-toed shoes, a jacket and leather gloves. I opened the gate and he flew right at me. I raised up my arms, yelled no, and he went down to the ground. As I walked toward the coop to gather eggs, he flew at me three more times and I pushed him back and yelled each time. I finally managed to gather up the one egg that had been laid and also to open up the food bins. Just before I opened the gate (my back was to him), Beau Leigh flew at me again. I pushed him back again, yelled, “No!”, then managed to open the gate and escape without breaking the egg or snapping Beau Leigh’s neck.
Late this afternoon, I knew there’d be more eggs I needed to gather, plus I needed to close the food bins for the night so the mice didn’t enjoy the expensive organic chicken food. So, I got on my long pants, jacket, closed-toed shoes and leather gloves and headed over. Beau Leigh was standing right at the door on a bale of hay, eye-level with me, and gave me the meanest look a rooster can muster. He was clearly ready to roll. I gave him a bit of chard to see if he’d be nicer. He snapped at it, basically aiming for my finger instead. I knew I was not supposed to back down, but I decided then, and there I needed to do some research. I retreated (yes, call me a weenie) and immediately watched three YouTube videos on ways to handle an angry rooster (apparently there are LOTS of angry roosters out there) and then read a couple of articles that offered advice. At that point, it was starting to approach dusk so I knew I had to toughen up and go face Mr. Crazy Eyes once again. Off I went.
This time, I decided to take the advice I had just learned. First, I got more chard and offered it to Beau Leigh through the side fence. Then while he was munching, I walked calmly (or at least I tried to appear calm) to the front gate and opened it. He was just heading up to the hay bale when I entered. He flew at me and I knocked him back and then raised my arms and flapped them while uttering some strange noise that came out of my mouth. (I have no idea where THAT came from). He backed up a little, which I had read meant he was backing down. I stood for a minute, letting him turn away, then walked over to the coop. He was right there ready to fly up and charge again, but I raised my arms again and bellowed out the same deep-throated sound. He looked down and then turned. I checked to make sure he wasn’t going to fly at me when my back was turned, but he seemed less aggressive. I opened the coop, scooped up four eggs and glanced at him before slipping them in my pocket. He was giving me a look but it wasn’t as fierce as before. Then I had to cover up the food bins, one of which he was standing right in front of. I raised my arms a third time, bellowed a little quieter and he moved away from the bin. I managed to get the lid on and walk over to the gate. He was still over near the bin so I quickly made my escape, his neck nowhere near.
To say I felt a bit victorious would be an understatement. I also felt that maybe with time I can go in without all the drama.
However, I do have tomorrow morning to look forward to with the promise of a rested Beau Leigh ready to reestablish his domain. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, you’ll find me even on a hot day in full chicken gear (yes, there are two ways to interpret that description), ready to stand up to a rooster by flapping my arms and making a sound that is more like a deep-throated frog than any member of the poultry family. Whatever the case, I am heartened. Maybe just maybe, Beau Leigh and I can learn to coexist on this little farm that Liz and Ron have created in the middle of an orange grove.
But in the meantime, I’ll let you know if I (or Beau Leigh) make it through tomorrow.
Beau Leigh is the orange chicken. This photo was taken about a month ago. Since then, he has pretty much doubled in size.