It's Getting Harder to Sleep In Around Here

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather

 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?

For more information about Cam & Michelle Mather, or our books, please visit www.cammather.com or www.aztext.com