Book Review: Pokey Jr. by Brad Hauter

“Why do you name your chickens?” my neighbor asked me one day.

I paused for a minute to think, as it had never once occurred to me that it would be unusual to name one’s chickens.

“How else could I tell stories about them?” I replied.

Not everyone understands the importance of this story telling, but some people do. Some people do.

When I started reading Pokey Jr. by Brad Hauter of Coop Dreams fame, I was struck by the opening. He writes: “Trust me when I say ‘I know’ it sounds crazy that I am best friends with a rooster and it certainly never started out as the end goal for either one of us but that’s what happened.”  

Whenever someone who works with animals begins anything they write with “I know this is going to sound crazy,” I know this person is a person who has been paying attention—the same kind of attention that I pay to my chickens.

There is world of information and life lessons we can learn when we simply pay attention to animals, and in his book, Hauter shows that he is the kind of human who pays attention, listens, observes, and understands animals in a way that may “sound crazy” to the average person—but only because that average person hasn’t yet had the opportunity or time to learn more.

I knew from that opening that Pokey Jr. was going to be a book I would enjoy and that Hauter was certainly my kind of human.

Pokey Jr, the main character of this tale, is a rooster with loads of personality. Hauter tells Pokey Jr.’s story from the day he hatched to his time in the chicken yard vying to be the number one rooster, to the day Pokey Jr. fails in his attempt to remain top rooster. It is then that Pokey Jr. begins his life as a lone rooster on the farm, living outside of the main flock, loving cat food a little too much, but finding new purposes and new ways to “rooster” for a batch of baby chicks.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this beautiful story is that the author offers a male perspective on roosters that we do not often get in the chicken world. Most of the big names in chicken publishing are women. As a woman, I view my roosters through my feminine lens, though I try hard not to. I adore the two roosters we keep in our little farm, and I am certainly aware of the evolutionary traits that guide my roosters’ behaviors. However, my subjectivity is unavoidable to a great extent.

This book made me think more deeply about roosters, about their motivations and their needs as animals. I think getting a male perspective on these magnificent animals led to a deeper understanding roosters for me, and I see this is as a service to chicken keepers everywhere.

But I think the thing I love most about this book is its heart—Pokey Jr. has so much heart, but his owner/friend and author of this book shares his heart with readers in that he understands Pokey Jr. for the amazing animal he is.

I highly recommend this book to chicken people and anyone who thinks they might be chicken people. It’s a quick, good read and so full of love for these amazing animals. I do believe stories like this can help people have a greater understanding of the awesomeness of chickens.

Chickens deserve our respect. Pokey Jr.’s story illustrates this.

Signed copies of Pokey Jr: Even Roosters Get Second Chances from Balboa Press are available for $13.99 at the Coop Dreams shop.

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