Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Guest Post By Michelle Mather
Ever since we acquired our 4 chickens last May, friends have been asking us if we planned on getting a rooster. I've read both pros and cons to having a rooster as part of a flock, but I was undecided on whether or not we should add one.
Then people began offering roosters to us. First our friend Robert, who has chickens of his own and has been an immense help in providing advice to us, offered his rooster to us. His rooster is a bit aggressive and Robert's wife isn't too fond of having to fight him off when she attempts to gather the eggs. I wasn't sure whether or not I'd be able to handle an aggressive rooster. Then one of my neighbors called one day and during our conversation she offered to sell us one of her Ameraucana roosters. Again, I was undecided.
On Sunday, my neighbor Alyce called. You will recognize her name from so many other blog posts, as she and her husband Ken have played such huge roles in our life here at Sunflower Farm. Alyce has let us enjoy her horses and cows in our paddock from time to time, and the manure from her horses has done wonders in improving our soil quality! We even dedicated our book "Little House Off the Grid," to them, to acknowledge just how grateful we are for their friendship.
Alyce had dropped off some of her Highland cattle to a farm on Saturday and the folks who bought her cows offered her a rooster. He had been one of three roosters, but the other two had been picking on him and so they'd had to separate him and he was living in a cage while he recuperated from his injuries. Alyce brought him home and then called to ask me if I wanted him. She was happy to keep him, but thought he might enjoy becoming part of my flock.
I went over to take a look at him. He is gorgeous and didn't seem at all aggressive. He's not a large rooster, which was also a bonus since he was going to have to be able to fit into our existing coop with our 4 ladies. There are plans to expand our coop and add to our flock, but it hasn't happened yet and so it's a good thing he's small enough to fit in with the others!
I brought him home in his cage and placed the cage into the chicken pen. He began crowing and the "ladies" were freaked out! I've never seen our chickens show fear of anything. They aren't afraid of our cats, our dog, the lawnmower or the rototiller. But they ran off and huddled in the corner when I put this rooster into the pen.
I kept an eye on him and put my hand into the cage just to ensure that he wasn't aggressive. I let him out of the cage and stayed in the pen, just in case he showed any inclination to hurt the chickens. Instead he got out of his slightly cramped cage and he flapped his wings and crowed! The chickens kept their distance from him for the rest of the afternoon. He seemed to relish his freedom and eventually took the longest, most luxurious dust bath I've ever witnessed!
I was worried about how they would all handle "bed time." Normally at dusk the four ladies head into the coop and Cam or I go out and lock them up for the night. On Sunday night the rooster was the first to head into the coop. The ladies seem to stand at the bottom of the ramp, considering their options but eventually they headed in. When I went out to lock them up the four girls were in their usual spots on the roost and he was up on the shelf above the nesting boxes.
On Monday morning Cam headed out bright and early to let them out. The girls were lined up at the door waiting for Cam but the rooster was at the window. When he came out he began to crow and he crowed and crowed and crowed! Needless to say I wasn't able to enjoy my usual "sleep in" and I was "up with the chickens."
We have named him Colonel, in honor of my late father. No, my father wasn't in the military, his given name was "Colonel Lorne Archer" but he preferred to go by the name "Lorne." I would like to think that my father would be happy to have such a handsome and protective rooster named after him!
The ladies are completely comfortable with Colonel now. In fact I was just outside trying to give him some grapes and the ladies were stealing his grapes from him. His previous owner Eveline told me that grapes are one of his favorite treats and so I ran out and bought him some yesterday. Can you tell that Colonel is going to be spoiled?