Remember these guys?
Well, here they are now:
We’ve been having a lot of fun watching our little flock of chickens mature this summer. For a long while, even after they reached full size and plumage, the birds still made little chick-like cheeping noises. I was eagerly awaiting the more adult clucking and crowing, both because I love the sounds, and because they signal egg-laying is not long off. Finally, T and I were sitting in the living room one day when we heard a funny noise in the back yard, sort-of a cross between a meow and a hoot. I thought it might be an injured cat. I looked out the window, and to my surprise the sound was coming from the rooster. He looked as surprised as I was, seized by a strange convulsive urge to holler. T and I were so excited, we were like parents whose child has just spoken its first words. Our little chicky, all-growned up. T proposed we write a children’s book: “Rooster Finds His Voice”.
Here’s a funny little video of his early crow. I love how he runs away afterwards, as if he is embarrassed about this new development:
Our second, accidental rooster started the pitiful hooting only a couple of days later. But then things started to get ugly. Two maturing roosters is too many when you’ve only got four hens. One rooster is usually dominant (S says the alpha rooster has some kind of hormonal-pheromonal release that suppresses the development of the beta rooster), but rooster number two was not lagging far behind. They began fighting, over food, over the hens, and for no reason at all. Instead of doing their roosterly duty, watching out for the hens, finding them food, and ushering them into the coop at night, our roosters were stealing food from the ladies and terrorizing them (ganging up on them to mate in rapid succession) so that the poor girls wouldn’t go in the coop at night. The hens started wandering off to different parts of the yard in the daytime, avoiding the roosters all together, which defeats the purpose of having a rooster in the first place. I don’t blame them a bit. Neither T nor I had any warm fuzzy feelings toward these jerks. They were nothing like our beloved foster rooster, the mellow John Henry.
Here’s a video of the roosters trying to intimidate each other:
So, when S & S asked us to help them process a few chickens over a weekend, we included our alpha rooster in the bunch. We roasted him with some of last year’s frozen pesto rubbed under the skin – which was possibly the best meat I’ve ever eaten. Roosters don’t have much white meat on the breast, but those legs and thighs were rich and savory.
After culling the big meanie, we noticed an immediate difference in our flock. Within one day, everybody was meandering peacefully together about the yard. We’re calling the fellow Rooster Cogburn, and the ladies Zoe, Mae West, and Hennie. I still can’t come up with a name for the last hen. I’m happy to report that Roster Cogburn has a fully fledged cock-a-doodle-doo now, and we’ve started getting our first eggs. The very first one was about the size and color of a large green olive. They are so cute I don’t want to eat them, and they are piling up in the fridge. Gotta dig out those quiche and souffle recipes!