Cryin’ Over Chickens

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Rooster (AKA Pretty Boy) is featured in the middle in all his glorious color, with one of our Barred Rock hens taking the opportunity to photo bomb

It’s been a hard two days on the chicken farm for this momma. I gave away two of my three roosters. Never thought I’d cry over chickens, but I’ve raised Rooster and Bird since they were hatchlings. Yes, we’re pretty original with the names around here.

The absolute worst is, I don’t know if they’re going to a farm or into a stew pot. I was afraid to ask. My neighbor told me her uncle had a farm; we sent our first rooster to the farm months ago, but I didn’t ask this time. I just asked if they still wanted roosters.

The next worst thing is that my pretty boy Americauna (Rooster) spent all day today calling me from his holding cell in the neighbor’s yard.

My heart has never hurt so much over something that’s meant for food.

I’m trying to remember that chickens are meant to be eaten. I’m trying to remember that it’s for the good of the flock. We had too many roosters. They were stressing out our hens, and jumping them so much that the hens’ backends are bare.

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(Left to right: Fuzzy Butt (roo), Bird (roo), Falcon (hen), Rooster (roo)) Bird (AKA Big Bird) is a Barred Rock rooster. He has his back to us, because he’s too good to give us his front. He’s definitely the biggest rooster on the block, however, as you can see.

A year ago we found out that, out of the 15 hens we thought we’d bought, four of them were roosters: Little Momma (we thought he was a hen when he was named), Bird, Rooster and Fuzzy Butt. Now, I don’t know if you know much about chickens, so you may not know this, but one rooster should have at least–as in, bare minimum–six hens. That’s for the good of the hens, not the rooster. As you can probably tell right away, we had two too many roos.

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Our poor bare-backed Lady Bird, worn bald from being the only hen in Fuzzy Butt’s harem.

We were originally going to get rid of two of them, one of which was Fuzzy Butt (named because he kept getting his feathers picked out when all the rooster were together, so he always had a fuzzy butt).  I reached into the pen to get Fuzzy Butt, and he stepped in front of a hen to save her from the big, bad human. She cowered behind him, pushed up so close against him they were almost the same bird. I didn’t have the heart to get rid of him. So, Fuzzy Butt went into his own, hastily erected pen, with a single little hen: His Lady, or Lady Bird.

Since then, over six months ago, I’ve learned a lot about roosters. Roosters are gentlemen. At least Fuzzy Butt is. Roosters pick up food and throw it back on the ground, clucking to the ladies. “Hey, hey! Hey! There’s food here! There’s food!”

They climb up in nests and encourage the hens to try the nest out. “This is a great nest,” they say, “See the great nest? Perfect for our eggs to hatch in!”

Not only that, but some of them actually climb up into the nest with the hen that happens to be laying the egg and encourages them. They cluck and coo and hiss, “Come on, girl, you can do it.” They even cackle with them once the egg comes out. “She did it! She did it!”

They’re the front line of defense. Roosters have spurs–large thick talons on the sides of their legs–to rake intruders with. They put themselves between the intruders/predators and the hens and chicks.

There are millions of people out there who think chickens are stupid little creatures. There are equally millions of people out there who think roosters are useless. They can’t lay eggs, after all; all they do is crow, right? I used to be one of them.

But I’ve learned something so awesome from these beautiful little creations. God doesn’t make useless, stupid creatures; they’re all smart in their own way. Each one is a fantastic example of His handy work, from the complicated creations called humans to the simpler creations called chickens.

In fact, if you read the Bible, you’ll find that animals know their Creator. They call out to Him when they’re in need (Joel 1:19-20). How awesome is that?

To many, Rooster and Bird are just chickens. Just useless roos that nobody wants or needs because they’re noisy and randy. But to me, I just gave away two of my babies.

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The new head roo, Fuzzy Butt (standing in the doorway to the chicken yard), watching over his bedraggled hen harem

Fast forward to this evening. Fuzzy Butt and Lady Bird have been returned to the main flock. As I let the flock (minus two) out for a late afternoon snack and looked out over their bald backs and broken wing feathers from too much randy roo, I had to admit that things were quieter this evening. The hens were calmer, my new head roo was calmer, and it was all around more peaceful.

With no competition, the new head roo doesn’t crow much. The hens don’t have to fight off two randy, competing males. They don’t fight each other as much, either; the pecking order is firmly established.

I know I did the right thing for the flock, and I know it’s our job to take care of the creatures God gives us. I know that everyone will be better off in the end, including the two that are gone. They weren’t near as happy as they could have been, constantly fighting each other.

I also know I’m going to miss those two silly, randy, noisy roosters more than I would have ever thought. On the bright side of things, God gave me a baby from each to carry on at the White, Pittman, Steele, Seaman Farm.

Until next time, dear readers…

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Our newest babies, Walnut (left) and Apple (right)

 

3 thoughts on “Cryin’ Over Chickens

  1. I so related to this post, Janelle. I cried when I rehomed my little roo, Peanut. But much like you described, it was stressful for everyone to have more than one rooster. Now everyone is happier, and Rusty keeps everyone safe and well cared for. I have such appreciation for sweet roos. We’re lucky to have known Mir than one! Much love to you, caring mama (of birds and humans)…

    • Thanks, my friend. Never thought chicken farming would be so hard! And we’re still just egg layers. I hate to think about possibly moving on to meat birds, but that time may come sooner than I want.

      Love you, and so happy for your newest life updates!

      • Yup! It takes a LOT of practice transforming grief into gratitude. I’m still working on it. And thank you for the good wishes. Let’s catch up soon! Love and Hugs…

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