You might remember Pee-wee as the rooster that came with the flock of Buff Orpingtons we got from Ev last summer. Despite his enormous size he's quite gentle with the hens. But when it comes to his role as protector of the flock he's all business.
This role keeps him quite busy: with the chickens free to roam between the chicken yard and the orchard, thanks to Chicken Alley, Pee-wee spends a lot of time going back and forth, checking on the hens laying in the coop, supervising the feeding frenzy when Kim comes with some scratch for a treat, monitoring the fence lines, and watching for danger.
I've been thinking of this role as largely symbolic, because ever since we put up the disco dance streamers we haven't had any trouble with eagles. But Pee-wee proved his worth this week - twice.
The first time was when Frankie bolted through a momentarily opened gate into the orchard. He's never done that before, but he really wanted to bark at our neighbour Nick who was on the other side of the fence. So he charged in and barked for about 3 seconds until he realized the orchard was full of chickens and there was a much better game to be had: chicken chasing. So around and around the orchard he went, barking madly, having a great time and causing eruptions of squawking pandemonium everywhere he went. He wasn't interested in hurting the chickens, but he was a threat all the same - and in charged Pee-Wee, hackles up and making a beeline for our dog. What a hero! We were so surprised at Pee-wee's bravery that we momentarily forgot to chase Frankie, then we came to our senses and got our dog the heck out of the orchard before a real battle ensued.
Then the other day I was taking advantage of the nice weather to get a bit of garden clean-up done around the house, when I heard a repeated, insistent crowing coming from the back of the property. I knew it had to be Pee-wee, but I'd never heard him make such a trumpeting call before. So I put down my rake and headed back to see what was up. And what was up was that one of the hens had forced her way through the fence between the orchard and Nick's garden, and was wandering along the wrong side of the property line. Pee-wee clearly didn't like it, and was continuing to make that particular call. All the other chickens had clustered around him, and the misplaced hen was zigzagging back and forth along the fence, looking for a way to rejoin the flock. I fetched Kim from the house and we rescued the hen and Pee-wee looked as happy as a stern rooster can look to have his flock back together again.
Pee-wee earned his keep this week. Good Pee-wee!