Friday, March 04, 2016
We Bought a Farm: The Chicken Whisperer
My friend Karen came to visit yesterday, and she snapped this picture of me. I am, in fact, on my way to tend to the geese and ducks, but the chickens know that my presence means food and as such, they follow along with me no matter where I go. I have now taken to bringing a scoop of food anytime I head out to the pasture so that I can feed them and have them not under foot. Of course, this is also perpetuating my problem of them thinking I exist to feed them.
We had a total of 7 roosters and 45 hens. We decided to process 5 of our 7 roosters due to them being aggressive toward people and because 7 was a bit of a high number for our number of hens. I've learned that the word "cocky" exists because of roosters. They are fiery little boogers. Imagine me, bucket in hand, screaming and yelling and swatting at roosters vehemently trying to attack me. They might be little, but I was scared!
Processing these 5 was tough because the kids, without us really realizing they had done it, had named some of the roosters. Naming animals that you don't plan to keep really does change the relationship, and we try not to do it, but the kids did it.
One of these roosters was "Stinky." We felt fine letting Stinky go. He had gotten his name because he was really mean.
Another was "Big Beak." Big Beak was a favorite of Sidge's. We thought, at first, he was going to be a loyal rooster, but he too started attacking everyone but JB anytime we went out to the field. We were sad to let him go. He was a big, handsome rooster, and we really wanted him to stick around. JB tried to get him to behave but to no avail.
There were two others that Isaac had named: "Dove" and "Oreo" that had not shown any signs of aggression. We opted to let them live. A rooster is a bit of protection, and most people think the flock is a little healthier with a male around. And while we don't think we will raise baby chicks ... (it really is easier just to buy them) ... we still wanted to have a rooster or two. We hoped to keep these two guys, but sure enough, as soon as the other five were gone, they started showing signs of aggression. They will leave Dad, JB, and myself alone. But anyone else: Karen or the children for example, they go after.
We want our farm to be peaceful and not stressful, and so we are going to have to let these two go.
At first, Isaac was quite upset. We would find him sitting out by the fence, just watching his roosters. He even asked JB if we could consider finding a different place on the farm they could live. JB explained that we can't create more work for ourselves just to let something live that we really don't need, and Isaac understood. But he was still sad. That is until they went after him, and he immediately decided he wanted them to go and could we do it right NOW?!
I've been quite fascinated with the roosters. Here are birds that grow up with no male role models. They come out of the egg just like the other birds. And yet, inside of their DNA is wiring to be protectors. They will feed their hens before they eat and find worms and share them. (They also mate with any and all females as frequently as possible. Thus part of our reason for removing some. Those pore hens couldn't get a moment's peace!) I won't go into making comparisons to human men at this point ... but I could.
I really did, however, find this similar to how God created us male and female. He did wire us differently, and to say that you can raise your children without letting them be who they were born to be is just silly. Observe animals in nature and you'll learn that much.