It is with some sadness that I report the loss of Kellogg our long-standing cockerel this week.  Kellogg came to us in June 2008 from our friends Chris and Sue of Haye Farm in Musbury.  I'd long resisted having a cockerel as I thought all they did was hang about and make an - often unwelcome - noise first thing in the morning, but (as with most of the animals here) Kellogg quickly stole my heart. We kept him in a shed away from the ladies for his first night.  The shed had a round hole in the side and as I looked through at him the first night to see if he was doing OK I caught sight of his profile, looking for all the world like the rooster on the cornflakes box.  Kellogg was born. 

He didn't have the best start with the hens. At the time most of our hens were ex-batts; they'd had a hard life and didn't suffer fools gladly.  He was a young bird - quite a juvenile - and for the first couple of weeks he got terribly and literally hen-pecked. It's amazing how much I've learned about the farmyard phrases that are now common parlance.  Hen-pecked, cocksure, pecking order, taking someone under your wing, they're all phrases that I have seen in action from my poultry. But Kellogg was not to be defeated.  As he started to gain in confidence the hens soon realised he was boss and they all started to fall into line.

The fact is that hens like having a man about the place.  Hens without a cockerel will argue with each about who is boss as one hen will always want to be dominant. A cockerel stops all that. If two hens were having a barny Kellogg would run straight over, peck both of them on the head and stand in between them.  I'm the boss. Argument over.  It was fascinating to watch them eat.  We would throw the food down and Kellogg would call to them all and stand watch whilst they ate making sure they'd all had something and only joining in when he was sure they were all tucking in. If he found a tasty morsel like a worn or something he'd call one of them over for a special treat. 

The rooster sure ruled the roost.  Hens would hang around him and groom him vying for his attention.  He would protect them by keeping a constant look out for predators.  If he saw a buzzard in the sky he'd call to the girls and rush them back into the shed to keep them safe.  He did the same with some planes! Kellogg had a lovely gentle nature for a cockerel.  He was more of a lover than a fighter and I was never nervous of Kellogg.  He would never have had a go at any of us.  He became so much a part of Spillers Farm that he has a starring role on our website home page right next to our name. 

Kellogg was not our only cockerel of course.  We acquired a Bantam hen from a lady in the village after he'd been here a year or so. She had some chicks and naturally one of them was a male. Smaller than Kellogg and golden in colour he was quickly named Cornflake.  A few years ago we thought Kellogg might be on his last legs and so bought a handsome white Leghorn to take over his role.  Naturally he had to be called Krispie. So from not having any cockerels, we ended up with quite a few!  It was a bit noisy in the mornings here for a while with the competing crows.

Having a cockerel also made me realise why they crow and why it is so loud.  It's a territorial thing. Our neighbouring farms also had cockerels for a while.  They are both about half a mile from us and standing in the fields in the morning you could just about hear their cockerels proclaiming their rights to their land and their women. I'm sure they could hear our cockerel chorus too. 

In his dotage Kellogg seemed to team up with one of the oldest hens in the flock.  They were always together and quite often she would literally be standing underneath him and he'd have his wings wrapped around her. We started to call them Mr & Mrs.  Unlike swans, poultry don't tend to mate for life but it can happen apparently and it certainly seemed to be the case with The Kelloggs.  On Kellogg's last day he was draped over his girl in the morning and I thought he wasn't going to live long.  He seemed to rally in the afternoon but he was dead in the morning.  Mrs Kellogg pined for him for two days then she died too. We wonder if she died of a broken heart. We've buried them together on the island in the middle of the lake. I wonder if Kellogg has his wings wrapped round her now.