Thursday, January 5, 2017

There Can Be Only One Boss

If there is one thing we learn in life is that in general, only one person can be the boss.  When you have more than one boss, often chaos and confusion occur.  The same is true in the chicken world.  Recently I had to once again say a sad goodbye to some roosters that I raised and of course became attached to.

Cedric is my top dog rooster.  He is now about 3 years old and has ruled the roost most of that time.  He is such a good rooster.  He has always been mostly respectful to the ladies (not too crazy at breeding time) and has definitely done his job in watching over them.  He is so kind and funny when he finds them tidbits of food and calls them over.  He always alerts them to any danger in the area even though they are pretty well protected in a fenced and covered run area (we have LOTS of predators including neighborhood dogs that would be more than happy to snack on them).

Cedric has fathered several wonderful sons.  Georgie was our first last year and all went very well.  Georgie just recently turned 1 year old this past fall and him and his dad did just fine over the flock that has increased in size from the original 10 to 31 at one time.  We are currently at 26 that include 2 roosters and 24 laying hens.  This past spring we hatched out 6 more eggs (another broody hen) and ended up with 4 hens and 2 roosters.  I was ecstatic to finally hatch some hens.  One of the roosters, Scooter, is my special needs rooster as he is kinda slow and blind. He is definitley Cedrics son as he is a full blooded barred rock like his dad (I had two other barred rock hens at the time).  The second rooster I am pretty sure was Georgie's son (based on coloring), which would make him Cedric's grandson.  Enter Sweet Pea.  I loved that rooster.  Raised him and handled him a LOT.  He was very sweet and fun to be around.  

Needless to say I was nervous with so many roosters.  I knew it was a waiting game to see how things would pan out.  In hind sight, I wish I would have just kept the peace and found a home for my precious Sweet Pea and probably just processed Scooter since he is blind.  It would be cruel to send Scooter anywhere as he is already bullied to some degree in our flock and to put him in strange surroundings would be certain death.  Evidently I waited too long.  Things were going SO well!  Everyone was getting along and doing just great.  The problem is that since we are not able to truly free range (allow the chickens to just run freely on the property), the confines of a fenced in pen area will eventually become a territorial haven.  Roosters mature.  Hormones rage.  They can get pretty feisty and decide to not get along so well when each one wants to be top dog and be in charge of all the hens all by themselves.  Everyone seemed to respect Cedric and all was well.

Until the day that I believe Sweet Pea decided to exercise some authority.  It began with Georgie getting beat up pretty bad and having some pretty horrid head and comb injuries.  He began to recover and then poof!  Cedric was attacked and left a bloody mess.  I personally witnessed his grandson run after him after he was already down and beaten and hiding and try to finish him off.  I was devastated to say the least. I was so glad I was there when it happened to save Cedric.  I broke up the fight and reprimanded Sweet Pea.  Doctored Cedric up and put him in the nursery to heal.

After that incident I knew Sweet Pea must go.  I cried.  I was sad.  I love that rooster!!  But Cedric is what was best for the flock.  If they free ranged and I needed a rooster to keep my hens alive, Sweet Pea would be the way to go, but that is not what my flock needs in our current situation.  We were not willing to lose Cedric.  Hoping things would settle down, I released Cedric to take the flock back over only to find out that Georgie now realized he could fight too.  He nearly took his father out since he was already injured so badly.  It was a sad sight. To see my top rooster bow down in fear to anything that moved.  Not a safe bet for the flock, but again, they are not free ranged.  I found very good homes with friends of mine for both Sweet Pea and Georgie.  I last heard that Sweet Pea had taken over his new barnyard and actually risen above the top rooster there.  The last word was that all was well and he was very happy and everyone was living peaceably (they free range).

Fast forward to now.  Cedric has almost fully recovered and is slowly gaining his confidence again.  How sweet it was to hear him crow again.  It was so sad when he wouldn't crow at all for almost an entire week!  He was very defeated and would even hide from us when we would enter the run.  I hope he rises up and raises some more handsome boys.  I will know to not go above two roosters for our particular situation and as long as Cedric is around.  The sad truth is that Scooter will be processed in the spring since he has begun to harrass the hens too much as he is reaching maturity. Most of our chickens are our pets, but decisions have to be made.  We have processed roosters before and I'm sure there will be more in the future.  I am trying really hard to compile a list of which hens need to go this spring too.  Farming is not for the weak but it is an interesting journey.  I have learned a lot and have so much more to learn.

Point of the story?  It's best to serve just one master. Order can be restored and chaos can be defeated.

Matt 6:24 (Luke 16:13)
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  NKJV

Many blessings to all of you in the new year.

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