The Secret Life of Poultry: Where is Scruffy?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
At the beginning of the pandemic, Melanie Moore took up a new hobby like so many of us. She wanted to get her grandchildren involved in caring for and learning about animals and started by purchasing a Scottish Highland cow in February 2020. The cow, named Fiona, began as a pet on Mel’s eight-acre property out in Louisiana. The family cared for Fiona and began to develop a kinship with livestock.
After falling in love with Fiona, the bug bit, and Melanie added more animals to her new growing farm and networking within her community. They even made a name for the project: Ol’ Mel’s Farm. Her three grandkids adored the animals, and Melanie discovered that she enjoyed brushing and caring for them as well. Word spread of Melanie’s docile arrangement of critters, and people began asking to come to see and pet the animals.
With interest spreading, what began as a hobby quickly evolved into a business of passion. Melanie learned everything she could, and she went about teaching children all about farm animals and their care. Excited kids and their parents began pouring in. School trips, daycares visits, and birthday parties all became regular events at Ol’ Mel’s Farm, and Melanie was delighted to put all her new knowledge to use to make a special moment for the kids.
Once she was part of the lifestyle, Melanie was in regular contact with other livestock people. One of her colleagues was a breeder of the minuscule, popular Malaysian Seramas. He reached out to her to see if she was interested in a tiny buff rooster that weighed a little too much to be considered show quality.
Of course, Melanie said, all animals had a spot on her farm. She picked up the rooster, intending to give him all the love and attention she does with the rest of her animals. He sat on the center console on the car ride home, content without a crate. They named him Scruffy, and he settled right in as the smallest rooster with the biggest personality on the farm.
Scruffy was special. Melanie noticed that he really enjoyed car rides and ended up taking him on one of her frequent road trips on a whim. “He just sat on a little towel. He loved it!” she shared. “I was surprised how calm he was.”
Melanie ended up taking Scruffy on the next trip too. She took a few pictures of the touring rooster, and people stopped her so they could say hi to the unexpected travel companion. “People travel with dogs and cats. Why not a chicken?” She reasoned.
Soon Scruffy was traveling everywhere with Melanie. His calm demeanor and friendly attitude brought people over in droves to meet him. Even at scenic state parks or the Grand Canyon, Scruffy was the main attraction for some visitors. He even got his own backpack with a clear top, so Melanie could easily and safely transport him while he enjoyed the views.
When not traveling, Scruffy is the perfect petting farm rooster. He loves attention and being held by kids, and posing for pictures. “He’s got a warrior’s pose,” Melanie said, describing the Serama’s stance. “With his little chest puffed out and his wings pointed down.” Although Scruffy looks tough, everyone knows he’s a big softie. He spends time with the other chickens on the farm as well.
Currently, Scruffy’s travels have brought in new fans to Old Mel’s Farm. He has several states under his belt and even more experiences, including hiking and camping with Melanie. Melanie takes pictures of Scruffy at famous places and state line signs to bring it back to her passion for making learning exciting for kids. “I try to make it fun for the kids,” Melanie said. “I make posts of the states we’ve gone to, and I’ll include little facts about that state.”
The posts aren’t long but relatively short, sweet, and engaging. Each entry has the date the state was founded, and a handful of unique features it offers. And, of course, a photo of Scruffy proudly posing for the camera.
Today, the farm keeps Melanie’s hands full. It has blossomed over the last almost two years into a fun educational tool for kids, and Melanie has seen an uptick in the number of birthday parties, schools, and regular visitors. She loves the Highland cows that started everything, but Scruffy is something special too.
“In the end, I’d love to visit all 50 states with him,” Melanie confided to me. “I think it would be awesome to make a photo book of Scruffy in every state, along with that state’s information.”
To keep up with Melanie’s farm, follow Ol’ Mel’s Farm on Facebook, and Scruffy has his own Instagram @whereisscruffy.
Originally published in the December 2021/January 2022 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.