Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mean Ol' Rooster

Well, it's happened again. For the third consecutive time, our rooster's gone mean on us. This guy, "Batmandu", was a sentimental favorite and I was hoping against hope that he'd stay on the straight and narrow. But yesterday, he came goosestepping ("Roosterstepping?") over with that characteristic aggressive rooster posture and bumped up against my calves. And so it begins....

By now, we are veterans of previous roosters. If the last two are any indication, the rooster will get a little bolder day by day. The kids will start to worry about going out into the yard alone, then will be fearful even with an adult. Finally, they will make mad dashes to and from the house and refuse to set foot anywhere near a feathered critter. Then we will have to come up with a plan to, um, ditch the rooster.

The first time this occurred, it was a complete surprise. "Archie", a beautiful golden-laced wyandotte, was the free chick in the otherwise female box of Murray McMurray chicks. He was a real little "duh duh boy" early on, slower to catch on than his female counterparts, but somewhere along the line he had a surge of testosterone and viola! Mean ol' rooster! Archie was blatant and bold in his attacks, crossing a great expanse of yard to attack any and everything. Something had to be done. I tried giving him away on freecycle. No takers (No surprise there, eh?). Dan and I read up on butchering chickens but hemmed and hawed over this new and thoroughly unfamiliar step along the homesteading continuum. (Yep, call us wimps if you must) and then, the rooster boy went too far, attacking little Joe, "spurs" drawn. Dan went after him then, while I stood on the porch saying something like "You're not really going to do that now, are you? Are you? No way...?) But do it he did (Wringing Archie's neck and taking him off behind the barn, one of our homesteading how to books tucked under one arm) We wondered how our children would take this new turn of events, sensitive little girls and guy that they are, but they had NO PROBLEM at all. In fact, they were positively gleeful while eating the chicken pot pie we prepared. (In their defense, they really were terrified of that rooster.)

Our next mean old rooster was "Batman", a big, beautiful cuckoo marans. Batman was a reasonable guy for a long while, we began to get complacent with him. Believeing we'd finally found that holy grail of chickendom: the friendly rooster. But nooooo: Batman chose to go mean all at once, attacking my nephew Sulli. Then we were back to square one: kids afraid to leave the house, walking everywhere around our free range property with a nice big rooster warding off stick. We didn't really want to eat Batman (Dan and I did not enjoy dining on Archie) And, as he was a heritage breed, we were able to find him a wonderful new home. In fact, I loaded Batman into a dog carrier, packed the kids into the minivan and drove us all to Bennington, VT to hand off the rooster in a halfway point playground. (Yup, I am thoroughly CRAZY.)

But Batmandu (our third and present mean rooster) is a sentimental favorite. We hatched him in our homemade incubator after his father Batman had left the premises. In fact, we rescued him from that same incubator when, as a just-hatched chick, he'd managed to wedge himself between the mesh grating and incubator wall in two inches of cool water. I still remember holding the tiny, black chick under a heat lamp and cautioning the kids not to get too attached because this one would not likely make it. But he did. And now, he is a mean ol' rooster just like his daddy.

No comments: