The Hen and the Rooster

Earlier this week I went out to gather up the escaped chickens from the orchard and found them down the driveway chattering away with a beautiful black rooster!  This rooster was very interested in my girls and followed us back to the coop.  I didn’t let him in the pen and tried to shoo him away, but he had other ideas and promptly jumped a good 15 ft straight up into the tree that shades the pen.

At first he was a novelty.  He had glossy iridescent black blue feathers and a bright red comb.  But his glamour quickly wore off afterI spent the rest of the day repeatedly chasing him out of the pen and down the road.  We finally came to the realization that he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  But night was falling and we thought maybe he would go back to his own coop when our girls were put away.

It was not to be.

Tom let the girls out of their coop early the next morning and by the time I got up at around 8:30am and headed out to feed, the rooster had beat the crud out of our favorite hen Betty White.  I found her huddled in a corner of the pen, covered in blood, eye swollen shut, and missing dozens of feathers from the back of her neck.  Our poor hen had been brutally raped by that evil rooster.

I spent the rest of that day tending to Betty’s wounds and chasing the rooster away from the coop, only to have him run straight back.  I even had Chaser, a trained birding dog, out to help chase him away, but that rooster wasn’t fazed.  That evening we went around the neighborhood asking if anyone was missing a rooster and no one was.  Several people knew of him and a few even expressed a bit of hatred toward his tendency to crow at 5am from the road.  We decided that he must be feral or had been dumped by someone who didn’t want him anymore.

The next day he still hadn’t left and the neighbors gathered to discuss what to do with him.  We decided that because of his aggression there was no choice but to end his days.  I felt bad for the rooster, but also felt justified.  Without an owner to claim him he was just going to keep terrorizing the hens and the neighborhood.  We really had no choice.  I promise it was swift and as painless as possible.

Betty has medicine for her eye and will hopefully be as good as new in a week or so.  Fingers crossed.

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Our First Egg

Look what I found in the compost pile this morning!  Our first chicken egg!  My excitement at this awesome find is mixed with sadness because this means its time for LadyHawke to go back to the farm she came from.  Her chicks don’t need her anymore and she is ready to move on.

Look what I found in the compost heap a few minutes ago!  Mama laid an egg!

Anything exciting happen to you this weekend?

A Day in the Life: Backyard City Chickens

What did you do on the last weekend of the Summer?

We made a video!  This is our first video made exclusively on the iphone.  The volume is a little wonky in the beginning (you will have to turn the volume down after the first few seconds), but otherwise I think it came out great! I fixed it!  It took a bit of fiddling but I figured it out.

Little Chickens in the City

“Here Chickies, here chick chick”, I rattle the jar of chick feed, “Hi my little Chickies.”

I used to wake up in the morning thinking of the dishes I would have to wash before breakfast or how much I hate waking up alone when Tom has already left for work at 5:30.  Now, I wake up every morning excited and worried if the chickens

  1. survived the night (they do),
  2. were cold (probably not, since mom sits on them, we live in California, and its July),
  3. or hungry (probably not since their feeder is always filled and available to them)

I am always hoping that today will be the day the chicks will accept me as a friend.  To tell you the truth, they really don’t need me to do much more than give them fresh bedding, fresh water, and treats.

I used to put stray worms in the garden beds to live out a happy life pooping their way to beautiful tomatoes, now I dangle the poor things in front of chicken beaks.  The longer the worm the better.  Roley Poleys are for bribing the chicks to eat from my hand.  And forget cooking radish tops.  The chickens love them.  To the chickens they go.  Spoiled chickens.

I have always wanted chickens.  I still can’t figure out why.  It might be because they are just so darned cute as chicks.  Every year our family would go see the bins of chicks in the 4-H barns at the County Fair.  At least 100 tiny chirping little baby birds in a low clear bin constantly surrounded by an army of small children.  I was one of those infatuated small children and visiting the chicks is still high on my list of essential fair activities.

I also love anything dual purpose.  Show me a pet that provides me with food and I am sold, hook, line, and sinker.  Tom raised chickens as a kid and liked the thought of Brae growing up with them too.  He called up a coworker who had a small farm.  The guy actually had a couple young chickens that were ready to go and we made plans to pick them up that Saturday.  I spent the rest of the afternoon building a small (and completely free!) chicken tractor out of scrap wood from the garage then spent the rest of the week reading Keeping Chickens by Ashley English.  By Thursday afternoon a mild toothache in Tom’s molar turned into an abscess and we had to call the dentist.  The only day he could fit us in was Saturday.  Delayed one week.

The next Saturday we wake up ready to visit this little farm and collect our new flock.  We called our friend.  The tone of Tom’s voice when he said, “oh man, what happened?” gave it all away.  We weren’t going.

I totally understand why.  The guys wife was bit on the face by a dog and was in the hospital all night.  She is okay, but they needed rest.  Not a problem.  We can wait another week.

Finally Saturday arrives again and we call our friend.

“The hillside near the cows is on fire, but it should be out by the time you get here.  Come on up.”

“Uh, seriously dude we can wait if you are busy.”  Tom looks at me, “This is California, the wildfire state.”

“No, no its fine,” I can hear his happy voice booming from the phone, “Come on down to the farm.”

Brae had a blast feeding the goats, following colorful roosters around the yard, and watching the new filly hide behind her Mama.  The original chicks set aside for us had grown into independent chickens and were not used to people holding them so we opted to get the new chicks that were in a pen with their mama.  Catching them was interesting, one chick escaped through the door and sent us running in different directions trying to corner her.  Then she vanished.  We searched everywhere and just went I was starting to think we had lost her our buddy found the little girl hiding under a pile of firewood.

We left the farm happy, tired, dirty and with 5 new family members.

On the way home, Tom and I debated the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.  We finally agreed that because of evolution the egg wins.

Chicken & Egg Count

  • 1 broody hen named LadyHawk – on loan until the chicks are bigger
  • 1 turken chick named Gumball
  • 3 Ameraucana chicks named Sheila, Darwin and Eleanor.
  • 0 eggs, probably no eggs for 5-6 months, but when they come they will be blue-green!