Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Last Rooster Standing
The crowing is finally down to one lone voice. The last three roosters joined their brethren in the freezer this evening.
I think even the hens are relieved. The Chicken Idol Contest is over and the oldest of them all is the winner.
I had the bright idea this Spring to buy straight-run chicks, raise and dress the roosters for the freezer. We bought 32 chicks and we ended up with fifteen roosters.
While the chicks were growing, another rooster came to live at our house. It happened like this.
The phone rang one evening. It was our son Derek.
"Hey, you guys need a rooster?"
As it happened, we did.
"Do you have one?" Where, I wondered, would Derek get a rooster? He didn't keep chickens. He didn't even have a chicken house.
"Yeah, I got one. Found him on the trampoline this morning."
Now that was a rooster I had to have. Derek brought him over. It turned out that the rooster had jumped up on the trampoline to get away from a dog and found it to be a very safe haven. Where did he come from in the first place? No one knows. But a trampoline-jumping rooster is just the right kind of guy for our place.
As our young chicks got older, I realized that we had some beauties. Silver-laced Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, all kinds of pretty young fellas strutted the run. Then they began to find their voices, and bedlam ensued.
Somewhere I had picked up the misguided notion that roosters don't crow until their six months old. I am here to verify that they start between three and four months and by five months are at full throttle. With 15 young ones and Trampoline Man down there, the chicken house sounded like a brass band warming up.
After talking it over, we decided that we really wanted to keep a Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster because they were so incredibly pretty. If you have never had chickens, you may be wondering why didn't we just keep two roosters. Have you ever tried sharing the same house with two males? Multiply that by the enormous ego of a rooster. What you have is trouble. It doesn't matter if you have fifty hens, two roosters will fight, and usually to the death of one or both. They are ruthless and vicious and scary to watch when they get into combat. (I wonder if anyone has considered using them in the military? I can see it now, ranks of roosters marching in formation...)
What to do with TM, though? The idea of putting him into the freezer didn't sit well. Derek considered taking him back, but with no coop and many dogs in his neighborhood, the chances for survival even with the trampoline nearby weren't good.
We decided in the end to keep the old man. Maybe if we hatch chicks they'll have long, lean, muscular legs.
In the meantime, there is only one ruler of the roost tonight. All the others are quietly resting in the freezer, all 60 pounds of farm-raised meat waiting for our winter meals.
I have a feeling Trampoline Man is relieved. He's keeping pretty quiet tonight. Perhaps he noticed that those noisy fellows left and didn't come back, and he's not taking any chances?