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The Chicken Saga – Roosters… [Part 5]

Handsome Rooster… and good with the “ladies”

[To get caught up or just to refresh your memory click here for…  The Chicken Saga Part 1]

 Eventually the metamorphosis was complete and each chicken’s comb (or lack thereof) became as distinctive as a fingerprint and with that each hen became somewhat easier to identify. Each had a unique personality and several hens were quite friendly. Candy Corn, who became one of my favorite hens, was engaging and would stand on my foot each morning as I scooped the chicken feed out of the can and into their dish and then tossing scratch grain or mealworms onto the ground. It was clear that she loved me or perhaps she loved the food I was dishing out. I choose the “loved me” scenario so please don’t burst my bubble!

Candy Corn was calm, settling onto my lap without attempts to escape or standing on the top of my shoe even enjoying a ride into the air, up and down again, from time-to-time. Candy Corn was inquisitive and sweet… Candy Corn became my #1 pet chicken. There were several other very friendly birds – like Dottie Rambo and Queen Victoria – but Candy was by far the friendliest.

On the flip side, as you might, recall I had ordered a rooster on purpose. Now remember, I was an absolute chicken rookie with zero experience and nearly nil knowledge in the book-learning department on the subject of raising chickens. With the exception of a short book for beginners (which I did not read to completion) and a few online searches on the subject you could say that I was… uninformed, uninformed but enthusiastic! What little I had read on the subject of raising chickens said that your flock of hens will be happier with a rooster around and I was determined to have happy hens. There were a few alarming articles about how aggressive roosters can be, attacking people and pecking the eyes out of small children, but I ignored those reports reasoning that MY rooster wouldn’t be like that. And so I ordered my Buff Orpington rooster and was determined that, of course, my love could overcome any aggression or meanness my rooster might be inclined to display.

Here’s Little Bit… not so little anymore and just doing rooster things. It’s not his fault.

And so it was that I noticed one chick was developing a little behind all the rest when it came to growing mature feathers and so, of course, I paid special attention to that little bird. Many nights I would hold this runt on my lap cupped under my hand until asleep. That little chick I aptly and affectionately named “Little Bit,” … you know… being a little bit slower than all the rest. Of course, later on it would be discovered that “Little Bit” was the rooster I’d ordered on purpose and over time his disposition would become grouchy, confrontational and his treatment of my hens was brutal and utterly scandalous (from my human perspective)! Add to that the fact that my free mystery bird, Lynyrd Skynyd, would also end up also being a rooster and I had potential for double trouble in the grouchy, confrontational and hard on my hens department. Trouble was a brewin’…

I remember one afternoon I was in the yard along the woods doing a headcount to make sure no one had been snatched by a hawk. I walked over to the flock, innocently counting, only to be attacked by Little Bit jumping through the air with his feet forward and beak pecking wildly. I kicked him away (hard) only to have him return time and again until I was forced away to find a weapon in order to defend myself. Luckily Little Bit’s spurs hadn’t grown in at that point and the rooster attack stopped when I retreated for a weapon. Later, though, when my son, Jonathan, was visiting, Little Bit would scope out my six-foot two-inch son with one eye, head tilted… up and down his inspection went until he jumped at my son in the same fashion. Jonathan had been forewarned but still it was unexpected and unnerving and Jonathan’s response went something like this…

“MOM, he’s got to go!” And, of course I knew Jonathan was right.

Now I had another chicken dilemma to solve… how to get rid of Little Bit in a way that I could live with.   First, I tried posting pictures of Little Bit on our local Facebook poultry swap page… no takers. Next I segregated Little Bit from the flock and the coop because at that point I was a little afraid of another attack. Days went into more days and then a week and then more… and still I had no idea what to do about this rooster. What I did know is that I didn’t have the heart to dispatch him – remember that “dispatch” means kill – and make him into an evening meal. I just couldn’t do it…

Luckily after spreading the word around church where there are lots of farming families I found someone who would take Little Bit and so I crated him up one morning and by that afternoon he was gone. Shortly after the move I was told that Little Bit settled into his new home with a flock of hens of his own, didn’t end up in the soup pot and was doing fine. All these months later I’m not sure if that is still the case and I’m not going to ask. Sometimes in my life I just put my head in the sand and this is one of those times.

Of course, I still had rooster number two who needed to be dealt with. As you might recall, Lynyrd Skynyrd was that “exotic, free bird” who ended up being a beautiful, large breed, Light Braham (I think) with fluff on his feet and the most comical strut. While he never attacked me his overall size in comparison to my hens’ breeds was troubling and so I decided to rehome him too. Again, I started by posting photographs on our local Facebook poultry swap pages and I was surprised when one day there was response!

Lynyrd Skynyrd… my free bird and a rooster centerfold if I ever saw one!

Lynyrd was one beautiful rooster and the person who was interested in taking him traveled some miles to pick him up. I learned a lot from her the day she arrived. Karen and I sat over coffee chatting all-things chicken and then later went out to my garage-coop to load up Lynyrd. Karen inspected my flock and handled the birds in such a confident and matter of fact manner. Just watching her was an education. I on the other hand was a chicken sissy, handling them like little babies, handling them in a fearful way. After Karen left with Lynyrd I was transformed into a more confident chicken keeper. I learned from her how to inspect my birds and how to know what to look for even though at the time there was nothing to find. Karen was a God-send and she took Lynyrd off to Salem to have a flock of his own… a whole bunch of Light Braham hens were he could make chicken whoopee to his heart’s content!

So now here we all were… just my hens and me… with my cats, of course!  All us girls left to our own devices!