Not all Farm Based Educators are People!
A while back Mr. Fluffy Pants died. As roosters go he was ancient and had lived his entire life at the Green Chimneys farm. Fluffy Pants was unique. Chickens come in many breed varieties; all are different in size, color, history and were developed for different purposes. Fluffy Pants was a miniature Cochin chicken, an ornamental small breed originally hailing from Asia.
Now I must admit that roosters generally are not my favorite animals on the farm. 99% of all roosters demonstrate normal behaviors that make them difficult to like. Most notably roosters get territorial, they defend their turf and admirably protect all of the hens that might be in their coop. This aggression can become so strong, that any person entering the area gets attacked with a sharp beak and pointed spurs on the rooster’s feet. That hurts and is intimidating, especially when all one is trying to do is to bring food and water to “his royal roosterness”. Roosters also can be very mean and rough with their hens and can be absolutely intolerant of other roosters. They boss, they bully; they strut and generally crow their superiority into the world, often looking beautiful but acting incompatible with the human and fowl world around them.
Fluffy Pants was made of different stuff. Though small, he certainly was a handsome rooster. He had silvery points on shiny black feathers and a thick short tail of iridescent plumes. His comb was bright red and two fine wattles hung on either side of his bill. Most of all he had billowy down around his legs and big wheel-shaped feathery fans coverings both his feet, making him look as if he was walking on snowshoes. It is those feathers that led to him being called by his name.
But Fluffy Pants had so much more going for him. Compared to his kin he was a gentle, kind and tolerant rooster. He lived with his hens in peace, never attacked staff or our students when they entered his domain and was compatible with just about any fowl he came across. This mellow behavior made him a favorite at the farm. For many years Fluffy Pants traveled around with our mobile Farm Education Program, visiting schools and nursing homes, always displaying his social nature and easy going approach to life. He loved to sit on peoples laps and enjoyed getting petted and having his chin scratched.
Why was Fluffy Pants so different? What made him so unique among roosters to totally fall outside the norm for his kind? We never knew. We have had other Cochin roosters that were not nearly as personable. No, it goes deeper than that. When we talk about a farm animal having “personality”, we often are sneered at by city people, agri-scientists or those who just don’t “get” animals - but hey – Fluffy had personality. He was unique. He just plain was a nice guy- I mean a nice rooster.
It just seems fitting to tell everyone about Fluffy Pants having died - or maybe, to tell everyone that he had lived.
In his way, he made an impact on his caretakers, on the children here, and on the public who met him on our farm.
Yes, he was “only” a chicken, but what Fluffy Pants taught everyone who met him is that when 99% of all roosters give in to acting like bullies and thugs – all it takes is one rooster to set the example of how one can live in peace.