Fred the Bantam Rooster 2010-2013*
When Fred matured and it became clear he was indeed a rooster he was marked for the chopping block. His owner had had bad experiences with roosters and viewed them as nothing short of aggressive, worthless freeloaders. She didn't see the sense in keeping one in a flock of laying hens. But Fred the Rooster was different. He shattered his owner's preconceived notions of a rooster's value in a free-ranging flock. He broke down barriers. He changed minds and hearts. Most importantly for him he changed the heart of the one who wielded the ax, for once his true nature was revealed she never again considered butchering him.
Fred played not one but many invaluable roles in the daily life of his flock. He was daytime sentinel, night watchman, referee, bodyguard, caretaker and benevolent dictator. His owner enjoyed throwing choice bits of food to the chickens to watch Fred rush up to grab some in his beak-not to eat himself like greedy chickens always do-but to place directly in front of a hen and cluck at her to eat it. It became a game to guess how many bugs or pieces of bread he would pass on to his flock before finally eating one himself.
While the hens scratched and pecked in the sunshine he watched out for predators. One warning call from him froze every chicken into a feathered statue. He broke up fights. When he was in charge peace reigned in the orchard. And though he was protective of his flock he never showed aggression toward any human being.
As might be expected, Fred the Rooster died as he lived: Selflessly, heroically. He gave his life defending his coop during the Great Raccoon Wars of 2013. In all ways Fred the Rooster demonstrated the best qualities of his kind. Though diminutive in size, his passing has left a huge hole in the orchard flock. It will be difficult for any future rooster to fill his perch. He is survived by his hens, grown chicks and a worthless brother who inherited none of his good qualities.
He is also survived by an owner whose opinion on the value of keeping a rooster has forever been changed by knowing him
*Photo of Japanese Bantam courtesy of Fowl Visions http://www.fowlvisions.com/?p=238