When we first decided to get chickens I was adamant that we would not get a rooster and so we didn't. But as the chicks grew and we began keeping them outside in a doghouse with chicken wire around it I became more afraid that predators would get them. Although my husband blames this fear on my eastern European heritage, I believe my fears are justified. The birds were close to the woods that abut the Connecticut River and even though the river is about 850 feet below us I know that fisher cats and mink and fox are all in close vicinity and all love chicken dinner as much as we do.
|Abby playing with the now deceased Cinnamon.|
My solution was to get a rooster to help protect our hens and at least give us a warning call to allow us to rescue them. And our friends, who by the way lost half of their meat birds to coyotes, gladly gave us one of their young roosters. And before you could blink your eyes, the rooster appeared to help assuage my fears.
As time went by we laughed when Pretty Boy (aka Stud Muffin) learned to crow sounding much like a kazoo. Or when he ran after our youngest daughter Abby, nipping at her heels thus causing her to carry a baseball bat whenever she visited the hens. We chuckled even as he started attacking the hens who weren't ready to allow his less than romantic overtures. And how can we forget the first time Abby saw him attack a hen -- she screamed hysterically until her older sister Molly ran in and scooped Pretty Boy off the hen, chastising him as she held on to him.
But now, 18 months after his arrival, Pretty Boy has become down-right mean to the hens and to all humans except Molly. If he could kill my husband Jack, Pretty Boy would be extremely happy. He still runs after Abby but tolerates me because he knows I'm the alpha human, that is, the Mom.
Molly is another story. She can still pick him up and he will accept food from her and actually comes up and gently pecks her hello. And Molly loves him back. And feels sorry for him because that's the way she is. She understands that Pretty Boy brings all the bad feelings on himself. She knows he is mean and rotten and dangerous. But she also knows that once we give him away, he will be someone's dinner. She wishes there were a farm for unruly roosters that allowed them to live their lives out because we named him and watched him grow up. He's just not another meat bird. He has a personality and she knows he's just misunderstood and he doesn't deserve to be eaten.
So where's the huge eagle who swoops from the sky and picks up Pretty Boy and carries him off to be dinner for her babies? Where is the story book ending that keeps me from making the decision to send him away?
Sometimes it really sucks to be the Mom.