Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rooster Increase

After turning the roosters into free-range critters and seeing how happy the hens are to be able to leave their roosts and come out of hiding, I thought I would never acquire another rooster - until I got a call from my dentist today.

I drove out to the small town of Gregory to get my hair cut by my favorite barber and on the way home stopped in another town, Pinckney, to visit a laundromat. A friend told me it was much nicer than the one closer to the farm. While putting my clothes in a dryer, I got a phone call from my dentist's office with a "strange request". Since I had just been there for most of Monday afternoon, having a new crown fitted, I thought there must be something wrong with my teeth, but it turned out they were having chicken problems.

A pair of chickens, a hen and a rooster, had recently appeared in their parking lot. The children from the daycare that shares the building were having fun watching the chickens but the adults were worried about the children getting pecked. So, their strange request was, would I come and take the chickens away. Well, I need another rooster like a hole in the head, but I agreed to take them.

After the first hour, all I had learned was that the hen was really leery and very fast and the rooster was less fearful and not easily tricked. I tried to lure them into a box with the Cheerios the daycare children had provided, but they were smart enough to get close and eat all the Cheerios they could reach without going into the box. After the next hour of unsuccessful stalking I thought I'd have to wait until sundown when the chickens would try to roost, but three people volunteered to help and the daycare provided us with some blankets. The rooster was eventually trapped by the playground fence and a blanket was tossed over him while two people did belly flops trying to grab him. We put him into a box and then went in serious earnest after the hen.

The hen was very clever about going into bushes and clumps of branches, and then she started going up into the branches - and that was the beginning of the end. She jumped up to about our head height while her bushy brushpile was surrounded by the four of us. I yelled that she was about to go higher and Duane jumped up onto a loose clump of dead branches. As the hen took off to fly higher, Duane caught her by one foot. She struggled, but he hung on and got both legs in his hand. I couldn't believe he could get down safely and still hold on to her, but he did.

I took the box of chickens home and let them lose inside the chicken yard. The hen jumped out almost immediately, but the rooster stayed in the box while he listened to the free-range roosters doing their nightly crowing. I think he was intimidated until he realized they were fenced out while he was fenced in. I turned the heat lamp on and spent a few minutes building a roost for the Barred Rock rooster who seems to be too heavy to fly like the Americaunas - some of which are roosting on top of the chicken house and one is up quite high in a pine tree. When I went back to see how the new ones were doing, they were both inside the hen house and the rooster was balancing on the edge of a nest box - looking very content. My old rooster, with the injured head, was on a corner roost, hiding his head behind a hen - he doesn't look like he feels well at all.

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