When we ordered our billion Buff Orpington hens and roosters from the hatchery, Mr. McGillicutty was the free exotic breed chick. Being much larger than the others, he commanded their respect, and being distinct in appearance, he garnered our attention. His two-stepping-don't-make-me-come-after-you dance kept the hens in line, and his larger-than-average spurs governed the roosters (and us).
I marveled to watch Mr. McGillicutty in action, caring for his flock. As harsh as he may have seemed, he truly was conscientious in meeting their needs. Whenever he'd find a tasty morsel, he called the flock, allowing them to enjoy the treat while he remained vigilant in watching for dangers. When the security of the flock was in any way threatened, he quick as lightning herded the ladies to safety, while he stood firm, ready to face the enemy.
And face the enemy he did, many times. Even when the enemy was us.
Standard procedure with Mr. McGillicutty involved not stepping foot out of the house without a large stick. We kept an assorted supply by the back door since his patriarchal ways demanded that we be armed at all times. The neighbors never did quite get used to seeing me hanging out laundry with a stick in one hand and clothespins in the other, and our UPS driver was sure he'd never seen anyone meet him at the sidewalk "packing that kind of heat".
It seemed a fair trade for the safety he provided for our hens. We also couldn't have asked for better training ground for our
Mr. McGillicutty is gone now, but I still hear the children speak of the lessons to be learned from the roosters and hens. We watch the hens and are aware that they trust their roosters and know they will provide for and protect them. We watch the roosters and understand responsibility and authority.
When we watch our boys, we are proud to know that our security will one day be in their hands.
When we watch them whack themselves with their own stick, we're thankful that this is not that day.