After a long day at work, Freddie comes running to greet me.
Who needs an alarm set when you have a chicken who knows your schedule, and doesn't have a snooze button.
I met Freddie Chicken on the farm where I rent a small cottage that I call My Sanctuary, and Freddie is one of the many things about this place that make it heaven on earth. I work with animals for a living, and I have parrots of my own, so I know the bonding capacity and joy of working with animals of any kind. Still, it was astounding to feel how much of a connection can be made with a chicken. I am a bird person, but I was surprised.
At first, it was just a novelty to have this lovely white rooster marching around on the grounds with that mumbling soft clucking sound, almost like a chicken's purr. I have three parrots of my own, so I'm well aware of the unimaginable intelligence of birds in general, but I was amazed just the same by Freddie Chicken showing me just how smart, how warm, helpful and personable a chicken can be.
It's a long driveway from the gate to the house on this beautiful farm, and in such a setting, dogs running out to meet and greet, or sound the announcement that a car is coming up the drive is perfectly fitting.
It was altogether different when I'd see a big fluffy white rooster come running on his big feet cluck cluck clucking all the way down the drive with my car. I noticed he didn't do that with strangers, just with my car. Once I got out of the car, there's Freddie, doing that sideways strange little dance up to my legs, and following me to my door. He also became extremely possessive of my shoes that I would leave on the mat outside. He'd stand on my shoes, and try to keep them away from the farm's dogs.
Of course, he'd hang out there by my door when I got home, mainly to get the treats I would give him. It's probably not the healthiest treat for for him, but he loved the blueberry pop tarts I'd share with him, and the remaining pellets, fruits and veggies from my parrots' cups.
He'd hang out by my door for the remainder of the evening until, like clockwork, at dusk, he would make his way over the the side porch of the main house, and jump up to a windowsill, and wait.
Later in the evening, I'd gently pick him up from the window sill and tuck him under my arm. The farm's owner had a huge chicken coop made for all the geese and ducks on the farm, set right next to a lovely pond. Up in the top condo of the chicken coop, one of the hens would already be tucked in for the night, and I'd put Freddie on the ramp to walk up there, and join her. Putting Freddie Chicken to bed was once of the highlights of my whole day. I felt good knowing he was safe.
I say chickens are intelligent because of how things developed between me and my Freddie Chicken.
Most of the time, I came home around noon for a break in my workday for some lunch and a nap. Whenever I got home, Freddie would be right there waiting for me, or, if I called out to him, he'd come running out to meet me and walk me to my door. After sharing pop tarts and kibble, I'd go inside and he'd patrol the two french doors for me, keeping watch through the window.
At 2 pm, I'd get up and get myself ready to go back to work. Usually, I'd set an alarm to make sure I'd wake up. I soon learned setting the alarm was unnecessary. Freddie, at precisely 2 pm every day, started his crowing to get me up. And he didn't have a snooze button, so the crowing continued until I showed up at the door, ready to walk to the car!
At first I couldn't believe it, but when it happens every day, well, I could only marvel at Freddie's sense of time being dead on accurate.
The time sadly came when I had to come north for my job, but I'm so grateful for my friend subletting my cottage. He has completely taken over watching out for Freddie for me. My friend and I talk almost every day, and when he is home, he puts his phone on speaker, and I can give a shout out to Freddie, and I am told he definitely responds to the sound of my voice.
The time is close when I'll make my yearly trek back to Florida and I can't wait to see my Freddie once again. It shouldn't surprise me, knowing birds as well as I do, but perhaps I haven't had such a unique living arrangement as I do with Freddie Chicken. I've come to realize how much backyard chickens can really make wonderful pets!
All my life, I have been in awe of connection we human beings can make with other species. For me, relationships with animals carry a special weight, a significance of a sort. I consider it a privilege when an animal shares a bond with me, and with Freddie, I cherish that connection ever more so.
Freddie Chicken has taught me much, and if any chicken crosses a road, he or she probably has a very intelligent reason for doing so.
Stay safe, Freddie, and I'll see you soon!