“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

The problem with roosters…

…is what to do with them.

For years we have had chickens and that means invariably, we have ended up now and then, by a mistake of sorting sexes at the hatchery, with a rooster. There are a lot of reasons that we don’t need a rooster- two are that they don’t lay eggs and the hens don’t need them to lay eggs.

There are also reasons we don’t want a rooster- they rip up the hens in an endless passion for mating, they crow all day and all night (no, they don’t only crow at daybreak!), but worst of all, they attack almost everything that moves, including us farmers.

And roosters have no ethics or mercy when it comes to attacking. They need no reason except that they see you. There are no rules of engagement. They don’t give you a warning, or a chance to move away. Roosters don’t negotiate. They lack a Quaker gene.

And then it is how they attack. They wait till your head is turned. You can be ten feet away, or a hundred feet away –but if your head is turned, or worse yet if your back is turned, they seize the opportunity of surprise. With wings flapping they jump up from the ground, lean back in the air, and strike with the sharp, hooked spurs that have grown out long from the back of their legs. The spurs cut like knives. A really aggressive rooster can send its victim to the emergency room for stitches.

Over the years we have dealt with the problems of having a rooster in different ways.

For a time there was a young man who we were put in touch with who used the roosters for breeding (at least that’s what he said he did with them). Whenever we needed to unburden ourselves of a rooster, we’d get in touch with this young man through a series of contacts and he would pull up in his car and somehow catch the rooster and take it with him. At some point, the web of shadowy contacts dissipated and we never able to get word to him again.

At that point, we turned to Craigslist  to advertise that we had a rooster to give away, free to a good home. We would get replies from Craigslist from all kinds of persons, but then no one ever showed up to claim their feathered bargain.

A few years ago a friend of a friend had a friend who wanted one of our roosters because they liked to hear them crow. We asked if they knew what a rooster was all about and word came back to us that “yes they did” and this was not their first rooster. So we gave our rooster to our friend who passed it to the friend who passed it to their friend – transaction complete. Just recently we were told that the rooster met its end. Apparently the rooster became so increasingly aggressive that the people were scared to leave their house, so in a moment of bravery fueled by frustration they literally shot their way out…

Last year, I bought a small, chain link dog kennel and that is where we keep our current rooster. In this way, he has his own space and he can’t get to us or to anyone else. Once a week we allow him conjugal visits with the hens. It’s not a bad life. I also got an incubator so that I could breed him and hatch chicks. I assumed that my chances of getting another rooster this way were probably the same as if I bought sexed chicks. So far, of the five chicks that I’ve hatched, two have turned out to be roosters.

I can’t put these two with the current rooster as they will fight, and so now I am back to the original problem of what to do with the roosters.

Can’t re-home them, Craigslist doesn’t work, and we can’t keep them…

… so this time we are setting the oven to 375.

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