Long time no post. It seems to be our way, at the moment, to be busy and have very little time to sit down and reflect. Today is my writing day for the week. I really should be using it to write fiction, but I have this burning desire to share this story in order to add to the collective information about peacocks.
When we bought this place, a peacock (now named John) and a peahen (now named Sam) were in residence, along with a couple of chickens. We were happy to take these on, and popped out regularly to feed them even before we were allowed to move in, as the place had already been empty for some time.
Soon after we moved in, I spied a rooster making his way across our paddocks, getting slightly further each day. It took him about a week to find our chickens. We asked our neighbour if he was missing a rooster. He wasn’t. We heard nothing else about anyone missing a rooster, and he seemed to make our girls happy, so we let him stay.
However, he once intimidated my, then 5-year-old, son. My son wasn’t hurt, and it seemed to be an isolated incident, so we treaded warily, but still friendly with the rooster.
Then, one morning while I was out feeding the birds, the rooster came at me. Luckily I had my gumboots on and could defend myself. I don’t know if he particularly didn’t like my red dressing gown, or if he didn’t like that I fed “his” girls and was therefore a threat. But, from then on, I was extremely wary when I fed the birds and was careful not to turn my back on the rooster (he never got a name).
At my dad’s suggestion, we had a go at intimidating the rooster, chasing him while waving sticks. Well, my dad and my son could chase the rooster around the house this way. He ran from them. But me? Nope. He stood his ground, and then I found that I had to finish what I had started and had to battle him again…
It made living here less pleasant having him around. We had to look out for him any time we went outside and make sure we knew where he was. My son couldn’t go down to his trampoline alone, and I had to be alert while supervising. Not nice at all.
Just before Christmas, I was trying to help one of the three peachicks catch up to mum (it was weak and didn’t survive many more days, but at the time I thought I could help). Again, it was morning and I was in my red dressing gown. Before I could quite get the chick back to mum, I sensed the rooster behind me. I managed to back up to our front door and ask my son to get his dad to help with the peachick while I dealt with the rooster. I also asked my son to hand me my walking pole (like a ski pole, but for trampers; my dad had given it to me for such circumstances).
The rooster had me cornered, now. With gumboots on, and metal pole in hand, we had a duel. Luckily for me, I only ended up with a scratch on my wrist. But that rooster was not going to back down, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of a drawn-out battle/stand-off. If I managed to slip inside, run away, what message would that send to the rooster?
Then in came John, the Peacock. He appeared from beneath our deck, and jumped on the rooster’s back!
The rooster took off, with John after, but soon returned, with me still in his sights.
But, again, John came in from behind and pounced on the rooster, ending up with black feathers in his feet.
This second time, the rooster got the message. John was not going to put up with the rooster messing with his human.
My heart swelled.
I had never heard of loyalty in peacocks.
I’m sure it’s just a matter of John understanding who feeds him, but regardless… I dashed inside and back out with an extra ration for John that day.
Sadly, that incident was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was no longer just unpleasant to have the rooster around, it was dangerous with two young kids, and hoping to have more kids come to spend time with our animals. But never fear, I can assure you that his end was quick and humane.
And I still treat John with a great deal of respect, because I believe it is mutual.
Posted by: Debbie