When you have chickens, like we do, and in conversation you mention that you also have a rooster, like we do, one of two things generally happens.
Either, people say something along the lines of, “Of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t get any eggs right?” and then you try not to physically slap your forehead in frustration with the poor biology background of the general populace and go on to give a well rehearsed mini-biology lesson of your own.
Or, they say something along the lines of, “But don’t you worry it’s going to attack your children, kill your cats, run your dogs out of the neighborhood and crow night and day driving you crazy?!?” and then you try not to sigh, because they clearly have had a traumatic rooster incident and now you must gently explain to that despite the incident that scarred them for life that your rooster is quite well behaved because anything less than stellar behavior would earn him a quick trip to the soup pot.
Rarely someone will nod knowingly, perhaps a fellow poultry person, because they know that a good rooster in a free range flock is worth the chicken feed he eats and more. In fact, I will go so far as to say I would never want to have a flock without one.
I’m not exactly sure what goes through a hen’s brain as she walks around doing her chickeny things but none of it seems to have to do with awareness of surroundings and self-preservation. It’s possible the chicken crossed the road because the rooster wasn’t around to tell her it was a dumb idea. While the hens are happily meandering about, the rooster (the current one goes by name of Roosty) is on guard duty. A hawk flies overhead and the hens continue to scratch at the ground – until Roosty (yes, the kids named him) spots it. He’ll give an alarm call and quick as a wink the chickens all vanish under bushes and whatever else they can find, and hunker down until it’s gone. While we we’ve lost chickens to hawks between roosters, we’ve yet to have them get one since Roosty’s been on the job!
Whenever his guard duties aren’t demanding his immediate attention, Roosty busies himself by searching the ground for extra treats, calling his ladies over to share whatever he finds. And as his final rooster duty, he has proven himself with an impressive fertility rate on eggs I gave a friend to hatch. Since she lives in town with a cap on chicken numbers and a ban on roosters, the extras were sent back to us. When all was said and done we had seven extra roosters.
Not all roosters are created equal and chances of nastiness seem to increase the more you have. And this situation was no different. But even though the new roosters were crowing up a storm and starting to do quite a bit of posturing and mini rooster fights amongst themselves, the young boys were, well, scrawny. As we waited for them to get a bit plumper, Roosty had his work cut out for him.
All the birds would be peacefully roaming around when one of the young (and might I add slightly evil) roosters would spy a lone hen and take off like an arrow through the grass after her. Stretched out, flattened to the ground, running full tilt they’d race across the orchard, joined by any other young rooster that may have caught sight of them. When the youngsters caught the poor girl, the whole group would start in on behavior that would earn them a decent amount of jail time if they were human. Fortunatly Roosty was on the job. As soon as he heard the commotion, he’d go running and flapping across the yard and shove himself right into the middle of the chaos. I never saw him fight another rooster, he’d just strut into the middle and the young boys would break it off. Straightening up, they’d slink away as if trying to say “What? I wasn’t doing anything! Besides I was just leaving anyway…” and Roosty would usher the poor hen back toward the rest of the flock.
While watching this show was both entertaining and educational, it was also very noisy for us humans and looked exhausting for the chickens. We were all sticking it out waiting for the new boys to get just a bit bigger when one of them pecked at Jane. Not only did he peck her leg but then he stood watching Jane scream with feathers plumped in a threatening manner until I came at a run to give him the boot (literally)and rescue her. Sadly, Roosty’s fierce protective instincts don’t extend to anything without feathers. While I love having a rooster around, we have a one strike rule when it comes to aggression toward humans. Roosty has never so much as looked at us sideways, but this young rooster had crossed the line.
With that single and final strike, it was time for all the roosters to go.
And just like that we are back to lone rooster status. The crowing has receded to a barely noticeable level, the freezer has a few new packages and Roosty, still on the job, looks just a bit more relaxed without his added duties.
So next time someone tells you they have a rooster, nod your head sagely and smile because now you know. A good rooster is worth that extra chicken feed.
You have a gift for writing about poultry and making them seem as interesting as humans! 😉
We had a rooster, too, by accident, since they are not allowed in the city. One of our “hens” starting strutting about on his impressive legs getting gorgeous plumage…and when he found his voice we knew for sure…I tried to find him a home with friends who owned a farm but in vain.
So sadly, my little macaroni-loving fellow headed to the soup pot, without his head. I’m glad it was my landlord, and not me, who had to do the deed, cause I wouldn’t have had it in me. He is survived by Chickeny, Lily, and Rosy, who of course were also named by the kids.
We had an awesome rooster a few years ago who started out the same as yours. Sandy was a huge white wydotte who would face off with the dog yet still yet our daughter pick him up! Sadly he also went the way of the soup pot when we had a virus go through our chicken coop a few years ago.
I like your chickens names – Chickeny – :). Not all our chickens have been named by the kids and I think a few keep changing but the two I can remember off the top of my head are “Bouck” (you know like a noise a chicken makes, I’ve never tried to spell it) and Roseabelle.
Wow, Roseabelle is quite lovely! Maybe that because my middle name is Rose…I’m partial! 😉 I love Bouck, too…when I was a kid all my stuffed animals had names like that…Doggy, Monkey…etc.
It’s their new favorite name, I’m pretty sure there is a Roseabelle doll, and the other day I was told Clara was only going to answer to Roseabelle for the rest of the day!
My kids do that, too, except lately it’s mostly Elsa or Anna from “Frozen.” They claim to be “the real Elsa.” I get stuck playing Christoph…but better than Olaf I suppose! 😉
Great blog entry –
You are awesome!
Hahahaha….wow, I’ve missed out…and now I kind of want to get some chickens and a rooster! But, dont’ worry, by morning the feeling will have passed! 🙂
Hmm, sounds like a challenge to me!
I now have a much better, and much more entertaining, appreciation for the the idiom “rule the roost”!
It’s a full time job!
Oh man this whole post was about roosters and I couldn’t stop reading! I have been entertained and educated! Thanks 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it!
very well said, from someone who once was in a similar rooster-boat
[…] Recently I posted about having too many roosters. Today I wanted to elaborate a bit on that part between having too many roosters and new package’s in the freezer. […]