He feigns nonchalance, walking back and forth, pecking at the ground. Every few steps he pauses, head still lowered, and turns a beady eye on me.
An Americauna rooster, Jacques is a real beauty: White with gray feathers on his wings and tail. He is not mean as a general rule. He just has it in for me.
I am standing on the porch. He is just below, in the grass. He can’t reach me here, on the screened side. Once he realizes this, he ducks under the porch where it is dusty and dim, clucking to himself.
I watch him through a gap in the floorboards. He scratches at the dirt, peers down at it, then tilts his head up and spies me through the gap.
The goose area is my safe zone. Thanks to an animal hierarchy here that has often proven useful: cats over rodents, chickens over cats, ducks over chickens, and geese over all.
If the geese are not around, I have to watch my back. Jacques waits to attack by stealth, from behind. I keep a walking stick nearby, to ward him off if I have to.
If I am filling the plastic duck pool with the hose, he keeps his distance.
He has learned about the hose.
Roosters are good to have around. They guard the hens and find them food, call to them when they wander too far away, and shuttle them inside the coop when dusk begins to fall. Hens are happier and more relaxed in the presence of a rooster.
But sometimes, a rooster can turn on you.
I’m watching you, Jacques.