Wednesday, May 9, 2018
The Tragic Tale of Reginald the Rejected Rooster
He is a lover at heart, a handsome fella with a fine comb, long gold neck feathers, a black and white coat and a tail that...well, he has no tail, and here is why.
But let me start at the beginning. We told a neighbor we'd like to have a rooster. The neighbor's wife has an incubator and would hatch eggs for us, but without a rooster our hens' eggs are infertile. So one morning we got up to see a cage with a rooster in it by our sidewalk. We were on our way to appointments and had no time to deal with him then, so we set the cage by the chicken yard so our girls could get acquainted with their new beau.
I told the story of what happened in this blog post. It was ugly, it really was. Our girls behaved shamefully, ganging up and bullying the poor rooster to an inch of his life. He was cowering in a corner of the chicken yard, terrified to venture out and face the wrath and violence of our usually gentle hens. They pulled out every one of his tail feathers. Larry took pity on the old boy and put him outside of the pen.
Our thinking was that surely after a few weeks the hens would get used to Reginald strutting around and not mind if he came back into the yard. A few of the girls even escaped the pen and went pecking and scratching around with their former sworn enemy. Good, we thought, all we need to do is catch him and put him in the coop and all would be calm and peaceful. His tail feathers were even starting to grow back, and he began to crow. He has a beautiful, clear voice.
Larry's knee surgery intervened and Reginald continued to roam free, joined by the occasional renegade hen. His tail feathers were even beginning to grow back. By this time I was caring for the chickens and was bumfuzzled as to how the hens were getting out. I went around their ramshackle pen carefully but found no hole that seemed big enough for a chicken to slip through.
Then yesterday evening two hens were out. I've trained them to come when they hear me rattling sunflower seeds in a bucket so the two escapees came along tamely enough and were soon back in the chicken yard pecking at the scraps I'd brought with the other hens. Reginald seemed anxious to get inside and enjoy the treats too, so I baited him in with some sunflower seeds. Yes! He was now penned up, and all would be well, right?
Wrong! The girls flew at him in a pack, getting him into the corner and attacking furiously. I managed to end the melee by tossing more seeds at them--hens think with their stomachs like most animals (including a lot of humans). The poor Man of the House trotted up and down the fenceline, looking for a way to escape, and the hens for once were paying no mind to him. I felt sure I had all possible escape routes fixed...but suddenly he slipped through a hole that seemed impossibly small.
So Reginald the Rejected now roams free again, and I suppose we will have to send him back to his former home because it's clear that what we have is a nunnery. But I am thankful to him for his service, because without him I don't know if I would ever have found that hole.
Of course once he was free again, Reginald began to crow. I crowed back, as I have always done with our roosters. He looked around, puzzled, and crowed again. I walked very close to him and crowed as loud as I could. The poor guy took off like he'd lit in a hot skillet, running over the hill and peeking back over his shoulder every now and then. I bet he thought I was the biggest oddest-looking rooster he'd ever seen.
He hasn't made another peep since.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.