Tuesday, May 08, 2012

on chickens


I introduced a new roo to the flock yesterday.  Our old rooster, Big Boy, had been attacked by a stray dog a few weeks ago and has never been able to recover.  He seemed to be on the mend at first, the feathers were growing back in, his comb scarred over, and he limped less but he recently took a turn for the worse.  He was no longer able to walk without obvious pain and spent his day standing, tail and head tucked down, near the coop door.  He no longer foraged or serviced his ladies.  For a rooster, this is no way to live life and I could no longer allow him to suffer.


Carlos, the new roo, was introduced to the flock slowly.  A freebie from craigslist, he came from a home where dogs and ducks ran free, which worked out perfectly for us.  Still, I wanted to be cautious about how I added him to the flock.  The first night he spent in a cage near the flock so they could get used to him.  The second morning I sprinkled seed in his cage and around his cage so they could eat communally.  When they all seemed calm, I opened the cage and let him out.  As predicted, Red, who is our HCIC (head chick in charge) let him know who exactly was running this flock.


She's a sassy little redhead, this one.  What she lacks in body size, she makes up for in attitude.  If I don't deliver the feed fast enough in the morning, it's Red giving me a peck on the back of the leg to hurry me along.

The fight needed to happen but I was ready to step in should it get out of hand.  They needed to determine the (literal) pecking order, and I hoped it would be Carlos.  He asserted himself during the brief tussle but from an outsider's view, Red won that fight.  Carlos shook himself off and after a little bit of sulking, rejoined the flock, hanging at the outer edges.  He became more comfortable as the day went on, and I was pleased to see him protect the flock by growling a warning as a raven flew over head, sending the girls running for cover.  By night he was up on the roost surrounded by his ladies and life in the flock was as it should be.


Big Boy was sent to the big sleep on the same day that the eggs in the incubator were set to hatch.  Sadly, not a one has pipped and I fear the whole batch is a loss.  Given Big Boy's iffy "abilities" and an incubator that was giving me fits, we didn't start out with the greatest odds.  If Carlos manages to convince the rest of the girls that he's the man, we'll try again in a few weeks.

As romantic as it can seem, these lovely birds wandering about, scratching and pecking bugs, the reality of keeping chickens isn't always so.  They come with responsibility, and illness, and injury, and death, and lots of poop, but for me it's worth the work and occasional heartbreak. 

I guess it was a good thing I was feeling like superman yesterday, and I should really try to feel invincible every day, because you never know what life is going to throw at you.

10 comments:

Amy said...

I'm pretty sure for a chicken your place is close to heaven on earth. I hope Big Boy is chasing the girls in chicken heaven.

lynn bowes said...

Tru dat, my friend. Rural life can be daunting and it ain't all sittin' on the porch swing swillin' iced tea in your calico dress. Think I told you I saw a bobcat around here last month and sure enough, neighbor's chickens took a hit. Such is nature but it's the ebb and flow that gives you an appreciation for the ever-changing existence of everything, no?

Rock on, Big Boy :: lynn

Tumus said...

Owning any animal pet or livestock is a combination of work and heartache. I'm glad you post up about chickens and keep it real though. The more I read and learn the more I can make a sound judgement if I'm ready for a flock in the future or not :)

mireya said...

I'm sorry about big boy, it is always hard when any animal on the property isn't feeling well or has to go to the farm in the sky.

ecokaren said...

Oh, sorry to hear about big boy. I was wondering how he was doing.

I'm sure new Roo will be just fine. You know how chicks are...they love to dominate but they'll come around in the end.

Anonymous said...

Just for a laugh because you need it my grandmother used to tell me when you step on chicken poop in your barefeet and it squishes between your toes, it makes your hair grow curly. Not true, I had my fair share of poopy toes and my hair has always been straight as a board.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about big boy, when it comes to farm animals you care for and see everyday they do tend to become family. How is your daughter handling it? She was so in love with them. Sending love and hope that carlos fits in smoothly. He is a handsome fellow... love his ember saddle bag... what a stylish fellow.
Rose~

prpltrtl946 said...

Sad.
Funny.
And, YEA Lisa!!!

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thanks everybody.

... my daughter has very curly hair... and the most chicken poop in her toes out of all of us, so maybe there's some truth to that!

Rose - she's okay. There are a lot of other chickens to keep her occupied and though we told her that Big Boy is gone forever, she doesn't exactly get it. And that's okay for now. And Carlos is fitting in perfectly! We got really lucky I think. He's already far more social with us than he was. He's still working on romancing the ladies. He hasn't quite won Red over yet...

julochka said...

life in the countryside can be brutal. we lost another bunny on the weekend. it broke both of our hearts. and made cat no. 2 very unpopular around here.

our chickens are still young, but i'm sure we'll face this as well. but it's part of life. and tho' the lessons are hard and harsh, they are good lessons to learn.

xox,
/j

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