On roosters and harems

Spring has only started, but the first, fat raindrops of summer hit the windshield as I drive back to my place.

In this part of the world, we’re plunging into many months of hot, wet, muggy weather. Skeeters and no-see-ums are already out in force at dawn and dusk, and they’ll get worse as the season progresses. By May, the pattern will be well-established: torrential downpours followed by scorching sun, huge masses of vapor rising from the Earth and round the clock buzzing in your ears, slapping critters casually at all times, constant sweating as a fact of life.

The last few years, I adopted a very back to nature, physical work kind of lifestyle. That means that I’m very skinny during the summer, as a fat body really can’t cope with the harshness of nature during those months. I find it amazing to notice these things, and to know, however superficially, things that I had no clue about back when I drove my A/C’d car to my A/C’d office to sit there awhile, and then back to my A/C’d flat. I love air conditioned when it’s hot. But I just don’t have so much of it lately, and I’ve learned to live with that fact. I think my body would adjust just fine if even the small amount of comfort (that would then seem huge, of course) I currently enjoy was removed altogether.

Hens lay a lot less during the hot months. But the funny thing is, the males -rooster, drake- fuck them more. Watching them at the end of the day sometimes, maybe as I wash in the outdoor shower I made right in front of the coops, or as I sit there with a glass of something until the mosquitoes force me inside, I wonder about the life of the rooster, with all those hens around him. All he has to do is pick one every day, and they seem like a content tribe to me. I don’t notice any obvious jealousies. Of course there’s a pecking order, like in all groups of animals, but the male fucks them all, the high and the low. Is that the way of Nature? Have we made some terrible mistake, as a species, focusing on monogamy in such a narrow (flowers, chocolates, love letters, dinners out) way?

But then, there’s a nest of bald eagles next to my farm, and the male and the female there take turns to go hunting (fishing, rather) and to watch the young ones in the nest. They are a compact unit, focused on the survival of the bald eagle chicks and nothing else. Last year, I had a few interesting conversations with someone about this, about whether the bald eagles and other monogamous animals are, or are not, happy with this arrangement. We figured it doesn’t really matter. In a Darwinian universe, the focus is on survival, not happiness.

Bottom line is, you can make Nature say one thing, and the also the exact opposite. Just like the Bible.

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