Audrey Pavia
September 19, 2011

rooster garden gnome

Photo by Audrey Pavia

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Mr. Mabel likes to pick fights with me.

My bantam Cochin mix rooster, Mr. Mabel, is well known among my friends for his attacks on people who do not belong in my yard — at least in his opinion. Once in a rare while, he also cops an attitude with me. But this past week, Mr. Mabel has taken me on not once, but twice.

Both incidents occurred in the morning, right after I let the flock out of the coop and was walking to the garage to get their feed. In both cases, I felt a small, feathered body bang up against my bare leg.

The first time, I instinctively pushed back at him, lifting him slightly off the ground with my leg. This was a mistake. Mr. Mabel took it as a challenge, and came back at me even harder. I was so outraged at his behavior that I suddenly reverted back to the age of 12 and pushed back at him again. He responded even more violently, and the two of us ended up having a genuine cock fight with my calf substituting for the other rooster.

I finally came to my senses and reached down and grabbed the little monster. He pecked me furiously on the hand until I turned him over on his back. This rendered him helpless.

I waited a minute until his hackles laid flat against his neck and he stopped making attempts to wiggle free. I then lectured him, telling him he needed to behave, that I was the boss of the yard, not him. After a few minutes, I let him go.

Apparently, he didn’t listen to anything I had said, because three days later, I again felt his breast butt up against my leg as I was walking to the garage to get the feed. This time, I didn’t play games with him. I scooped him up, put him on his back and gave him a severe tongue-lashing. He settled down much more quickly than the first time and looked me right in the eye as I told him he was really pushing his luck.

When I finally put him down, he was noticeably shaken. I tossed feed to the flock, but instead of eating, he stood straight up on his toes looking at me, making a concerned clucking sound. I’m not sure what it meant, but my guess was that he was worried. I tried to remember: Did I say something to him about chicken soup? I might have.

Mr. Mabel and I haven’t had any incidents since that last time, and I’m hoping it stays that way. I really don’t enjoy these interactions; I much prefer a peaceful relationship with my roosters. Unfortunately, Mr. Mabel has way too much testosterone for that to ever be the case.

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