Life is funny.
Life is funny and chickens are weird.
Life is funny, chickens are weird, and there is no end to what we have left to learn on this little farm.
It has been one week since Junior, the outcast rooster, made his foray into the wide world with hopes of a gentler home; a home with no other roosters to bully him and a small flock of hens all to himself.
Junior’s five-hour tour of upstate New York did not result in the promised new coop with loving new people, but it did have a discernible affect on him. It’s hard to put our finger on what exactly it is, but Junior has definitely come back to us a changed man.
I’ve been reluctant to write until we were sure what was going on.
It started off strangely. For the first two days after his outing, he would still hang out under and around the deck of the house, but now he wasn’t alone. For the first time, hens started joining him there. So, not only was Junior no longer alone, he was actually being included among a group of hens.
At any time of day, you could find at least two, if not six, hens hanging out underneath the deck.
It struck us that, perhaps, Junior had started a trend.
More often than not, he would be hanging around just outside the deck and several hens in his company would wander under the deck whether he was under there or not!
It was so heartening to see him amid the ladies. After seeing him alone all day, every day, this scene was unexpected and a really, really pleasant surprise.
Over the next couple of days, we noticed that Tough Guy was hanging with our Golden Laced Cochin (a.k.a. Favorite Hen) and about seven of our Rhode Island Reds in and around the garage and compost. Meanwhile, Junior was hanging with the remaining RIRs on the opposite side of the house near the hoophouse and pine trees. An amicable division seemed to have organically taken place.
The shot on the left shows Tough Guy with his
bitches group of hens. The shot on the right shows Junior with the three sweeties who have decided to play for Team Junior.
But here’s the really good part.
While his crow is still MIA (which, for the record, we are not crying about. We do have two other roosters and they crow enough for everyone, thank you very much), there has been decided progress on the mating front over the past two days. It was this “activity” that motivated our feelings that everything is going to be okay after all.
While Dave was cleaning out the garage the other day, Junior (and Team Junior) were hanging around trying to figure out what was going on. Since our hay bales are stored in the garage, almost all of the hens have adopted that spot as a preferred place to lay eggs. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, chickens hate change, and cleaning out their hay bale-egg laying nest was no exception. Junior and the ladies spent awhile trying to figure out what the heck was happening and then–hello!–Junior went for it. Before Dave even had time to be shocked, Junior had conquered his first hen (however clumsily)(it was insanely clumsy) and was on to the second. Junior the Outcast Rooster was, quite officially, no longer cast out.
Admittedly, we weren’t expecting a happy ending to this story (pun intended). We had started researching humane slaughter methods and talked about which of us would be saddled with the plucking. We became fascinated with the idea of dissecting the crop and incredibly sad at the thought of actually having to eat an animal just because everyone couldn’t get along. We were mentally setting the table, but deep down felt that that wasn’t how it would really end up.
So, we are happy to report that applewood farm will press harmoniously on with 16 hens and three roos. At least for now.