In Defense of Roosters

In Defense of Roosters

Seedmother DOES NOT ask for donations.

Seedmother is really an artist and commercial illustrator who happens to have an affinity for "chicken life". Chickens inspire my art and I want to share my appreciation of them with others who feel the same way. I have created an array of quality novelty products for the enjoyment of alektorophiles. (I made that up, alektorophobia means fear of chickens so I constructed a logical antonym/neologism).

If that sentiment and my artistic expression strikes your fancy as an effort worth supporting, I appreciate your business. But regardless, please enjoy, read the stories and maybe share a laugh or a tear. The stories are anthropomorphized but largely true, although, I've taken a few liberties with the chronology.

It's best to read the episodes from oldest to newest if this is your first visit.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mangos from Heaven

The new house was situated under a mango tree that was having a rather good season evidenced by the continual bam, splat, fruit war sounds coming from the roof. John couldn't bear all that food becoming useless mush and climbed up on the roof everyday with a pole picker trying to save them from going gooshey and also to insure that we would enjoy tropical smoothies for the rest of the summer. Mmmmmmmmm…

He also dug and planted a small temporary lettuce/arugula patch to sustain us until the heavy work could be completed and the real garden could go in. We were eating from it's bounty in two weeks! As they say about Hawaii, plant and stand back with a hatchet…

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I'd always called jokingly called John "Chickendad" and now that we had this place, he immediately planned our new family by heading over to the local hatchery and ordering 6 Highlines, 6 Ameraucanas (hybrids of Araucanas), 6 Cornish (meat birds), a quail and a pheasant, the latter two to indulge my visual sensibilities and substitute for my lost roosters. They would arrive in 6 weeks so he was driven to get their home built.

It never would have gotten done if John wasn't the most ambitious, brute strength, tenacious procurer of foodstuffs ever born. His entire existence is centered on keeping the fridge stuffed. He pawed the earth, licked his chops, rubbed his hands together till they started smoking and got down to business.

From a strictly visual standpoint, I've always enjoyed the results of John's 3X a week weight lifting habit and now his commitment to lifting was about to pay off big time. Even though he was very well equipped to deal with this project, it turned out to be no small job even for a guy who lifts pianos for entertainment. There was 20 years worth of old rotting construction materials symbiotically lashed together with 20 years of prolific vine growth. Within that tangled mess he extricated a bath tub, a hot tub, a tombstone, a generation of kid's toys, a brigade of really cool flat sided red buckets, tires and even uncovered an old street sweeper!! No kidding.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


After looking at many disappointing, overpriced apartments and hot, dingy little houses on busy streets our collective karma (John's, mine, our dog Licky and John's son Shaun, the basketball guy and Licky's best friend) kicked in and we found the most magical little house by a dry stream with a very large yard. Room enough (with the landlord's permission) to have a garden!! And keep Licky! And chickens, just hens, no roosters! Every one was happy.

The price? We'd have to clear the surrounds to make it happen. John immediately got to work preparing the way while I tried to get over losing my chickens by writing this story and mooning over my thousands of chicken pictures & the memories I carried of our Moa family. I'd spent the last 6 months totally immersed in a series of Moa paintings and had studied them intimately everyday…their life was my life. Gosh, I wondered if they missed Seedmother like I missed them, they were always waiting on the front steps when I came out in the morning…Sigh…

The paintings were all gone to the gallery and I was alone.

We left our Gallus gallus behind but I needed to focus on starting a new little family with G. gallus domesticus. Cheer up Seedmother, new chicks were coming but much had to be done first.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Separating Eggs

We had to move. It was a disaster, what about the chickens?

That I had bonded with them in reality, probably mattered less to them (except for the seeds) than to me. They were, after all, wild chickens who belonged to the forest. But I was tortured nevertheless over being separated from them. I thought of capturing Sola and the chicks and bringing them along but as John pointed out, it would be so unfair to them.

What about Rusty? Well, he would stay and help protect Sola, besides the forest was full of food, they really didn't need to depend on our largess at all to survive. And our new neighbors whoever they turned out to be certainly wouldn't appreciate him. I tossed and turned every night.

What about the chicks? Well, they were getting to be teenagers, less than a month away from emancipation, think of how they've grown. Their flight feathers were in, and they were roosting up in the guava trees at night. They were well past the mongoose vulnerability stage. In fact, they were so able to take care of themselves they were stealing cat food from the old cat on the property, she was scared to death of them.

This would be really hard, logic demanded that I had to let go of chicken life. But my heart & mind were scrambled.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Ladies' Grey

They were the duchesses of the yard. They stayed together most of the time and would behave just like the proverbial cackling old dowagers. They formed the core of hen society and were the conduit of most of the underlying political gossip around the yard. The roosters protected them so they could enjoy the status and privilege they somehow granted. I think they must have had somebody's secret.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lucy, the Redhead

She was a redhead and she reminded me of Lucille Ball with her glamorous and kinda ditzy comedic demeanor. For a while, everyday she would lay an egg in the mailbox then in the afternoon when I brought out seeds she would absent mindedly forget her duty and come out to peck. That would allow me to harvest her egg. She never seemed to catch on, she would hop back up and cock her head to one side as if to say, "now, where did that egg go?"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Red & White

Some of our chickens turned out to have this beautiful coloration. Some gene combination caused it but only in the roosters, I never saw a hen painted like this. Probably an alliance between the red jungle fowl and a domestic white variety that wandered off into the forest for some adventure.

Our two were Irving and Gimpy. They were similar in appearance but their personalities couldn't have been more different. Gimpy, so named, because a fight with Henry left him lame. He was a cranky old man with a bad attitude and very aggressive.

Irving was originally Ivory as she was pure white as a chick. We changed it to Irving when it became obvious the she was a he. The alternative name was Freckles, which I vetoed. Irving was a very sweet, gentle type. Rusty ran him off early on so he could have Sola to himself and Irving seemed to accept the periphery of the flock as his place. I always made sure he got seeds though, because he just didn't want to fight and after all, I was the great Seedmother and he was my child.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We fancied that he was Juan's son, they looked almost identical and to honor Juan's legacy we wanted to carry on the name. I later started calling him Juantu Greensleeves for obvious reasons. I started thinking of him a madrigal singer or poet as he stayed back from the crowd and seemed sensitive and dreamy. He was so gentle and never got into confrontations. Soon he took up with one of the Ladies' Grey and they went off by themselves to the lower yard. Juantu and his Lady would come up for dinner and Juantu would hit the wall for a few extra seeds but then they'd take off together down the road. I fancied that they were deeply in love.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Henry, portrait of a Patriarch.

He offered the hens something, apparently, none of the other guys could. He was pretty at one time but now had only one working eye left, full comb, huge spurs & libido (I'm not sure if there is a connection) and a big, big mouth. Protection for the ladies was his game and he never let them down. He would strut around and keep the other roosters from success while the hens were…er…in the position. Occasionally, one of the young cockerels would dare to take liberties but Henry was right on it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I really respond visually to those handsome roosters and would spend hours feasting my eyes on their splendiferous garb and the way the sun illuminates their colorful robes.

But I really should not overlook mentioning the subtle beauty of the hens. Carmen was a very aloof hen, she wouldn't come anywhere near me and only got seeds that landed on the periphery of my throwing radius. She wore the most exquisite black and coppery/gold ensemble. When she turned at an angle to the light her shoulders would light up a shimmering peacock blue—so refined! She was stunning but never gaudy. Her legs were iridescent silver, now one must be truly possessed of understated elegance to get away with that!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rambo and Guido

They were brothers, or rather, they were from the same nest. One can never know with our gregarious, heterozygotic gallus gallus. The hens lay in each others' nests and the guys, well, they are guys. So we never know. At any rate Guido and Rambo were virtually identical except that Rambo had little dark tips on each of his neck feathers. Most attractive, in my opinion. Guido was gorgeous too, shiny and fiery, and they both met with more than enough approval from the chicks, that is, when Henry wasn't looking. I loved watching them strut around posturing for the hens. They got more than their share of adolescent action but apparently the joke was on them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Roosters fly…but not unless they have to. I've never seen them flying around just for the pure pleasure of it as you or I surely would if we had the ability. They seem to reserve flying for emergencies or to press a competitive advantage in finding dinner.

Out of the dozen or so roosters in our yard only Rusty, Irving and Juantu figured out that flying up on the wall was the best place in town for a good filling meal. They were my Flyboys. I would shake the peanut can and they would fly up with voracious enthusiasm but they weren't into dining together in a peaceful, congenial manner as I would have liked so I could get my shot. This spot was reserved for a solo experience. Even though I would keep dishing out the seeds and there was plenty for all, they would fight over who got the spot. They would play "knock the other guy off the wall" and then gorge themselves as fast as they could before the next guy flew up and "did unto them".

I don't know why the others never caught on, they would just look up and wonder, hmmmmmm…I guess they were chicken.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Politics and power are the basis of the socio/economic structure of chicken life. There is one dictatorial cock with big spurs who rules the roost, in our yard it's Henry. The hens stay in alignment with his protection policies (sexual favors and furthering his line) as long as he continues to assert his dominance. If he doesn't prevail in a confrontation and gets wounded, he loses status and the chicks find someone new.

Henry has maintained the strongman position even though it's cost him and eye and a brother. Juan, the poor devil, tried to go up against his own nest mate and he was so defeated and bedraggled he just went off into the forest and we never saw him again.

The young cockerels are continually testing each other in practice sparring until the day one feels ready to attempt a coup. We've seen some good roosters go down. Gimpy and Guido both ended up lame from cockfights and others have been banished to the hinterlands in ignominy, others form into splinter groups and insurgents.

Henry must ever be up for the challenge.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Moa Love

Oh, how the chicken class resembles our own species' mating game. The guys are expected to put on a good show for the ladies. Rooster plumage is the human equivalent of being good looking, rich and driving a Lamborghini — it shows in the clothes. Although I've seen human ladies who will accept a guy with raggedy plumage "IF" he's got expensive accouterments!

Beneath the show is desire but the game has rules. He's got to perform before he's allowed to, er, perform.

The hen pretends not to notice how gorgeous he is but believe me, she is recording every detail. She feigns a preoccupation with seedpecking but she has the corner of her eye trained on Mr. Beautiful and she makes sure her tail is held in a provocative posture.

He's got an eye cocked in her direction as well, and circles her perimeter in a centripetal spiral that leads him closer to his mark with each lap. He lowers one shoulder and drags his wing on the ground as he side steps into her personal space. Then he makes his move…and then…well, it's all over, I'm talking 45 seconds! Anticlimactic is an understatement, for human ladies, this could be good or bad…depending on one's inner motive.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rusty's Redemption and Seedmother Learns about Heteropaternal Superfecundation!

It seemed to me that after Sola brought those chicks out, Rusty underwent a personality change, some epiphany had transformed him. He seemed to take a singular interest in his Sis and the kids. At first I just thought he was hanging around with them to get an extra portion of seeds but I began to notice that he wasn't really eating, he certainly wasn't competing with the chicks for food, he was just sort of standing watch. He even brought over a few twigs and placed them in front of the little family, they even sunbathed and dirt dusted together.

I started jokingly calling him Uncle Rusty Pinklegs, he seemed so sweet and tolerant of his nieces and nephews. One day during a mongoose attack, I ran out and he was next to Sola sounding off the emergency warning system right alongside her.

How sweet, I thought…how brotherly…how avuncular…wait…a…minute…yikes…are those chicks…ooooh…but…they're bro…she's his Sis…whoa, wait a minute…

Thursday, April 24, 2008

First Flight

This episode speaks entirely for itself!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Survival of the Fastest & Most Obedient

We've watched many generations of chicks come and go during our time in the Ko‘olau rain forest and it's always sad as we watch mother nature perform her dispassionate balancing act.

The mongoose in Hawaii were brought in by some brilliant interloper to control the rat population but who apparently didn't consider the fact that rats are nocturnal and mongoose work during the day. They coexist quite agreeably and both have proliferated beyond control. Rats are disgusting enough but mongoose engage in a despicable practice, they suck eggs and eat little chicks and other small birds — most uncivilized. They have devastated the native bird species, evil little weasels! If there is a chicken boogeyman, it's the mongoose.

It's typical for Moa hens to hatch out up to 14 or 15 chicks, the hen will parade the "adorables" around, showing them off and teaching them their lessons. But every morning there will be one or two chicks missing. They usually end up with four or less that mature.

The hen and chicks stay connected by means of a sonic beeping system, the chicks peep continually and the hen emits a constant cluck that keeps the family together. When there is a threat the hen will stand up at attention with her neck stretched out and everyone shuts up. The chicks huddle together and wait for her instructions. If the attack is real she sounds the alarm and everyone scatters in different directions, ingenious really. One might get hit, like poor little Chester but the scattering ensures that there will be survivors. She will actually sacrifice herself to save the kids.

After the horror is over the hen resumes her clucking and all the chicks peep loudly and rejoin her one by one. They come from every direction. She takes the first arrivals along with her as she hunts to recover the rest. If she can hear them, she'll get them back.