Tag Archives: roosters

Lesson 868 – Sleeping in a car and roosters

As I told you on Friday, I went to a Buddhist writing retreat this weekend. I had no idea what to expect and I’m positive it was that attitude that left me so wide open for possibilities.

First, let’s get the sleeping in the car thing over with. Some people (hi mom) were appalled and fearful for my safety –  “that’s bear country you know.” I assure you that there were never any  worries. Flashlights and lanterns sufficiently held back the dark and I was quite warm, safe, and comfortable each night (well, more so on the second night when I moved the car from a steep incline – it had looked like nothing more than a gently slope when I first parked – to a flat parking surface.) Although I don’t plan on sleeping in my car on a regular basis, I would certainly do it again especially when it meant you ended up staying in a room with a view like this:

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Most of the retreat was spent in something called Noble Silence. Which was a surprise to me – I had assumed that when two or more writers are gathered in a room, there will be critical analysis and discussion.

Nope.

We were encouraged to not say anything. At all.

And we were also encouraged to only read for 15 minutes. Continue reading

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Mama Hen, Personal, Teaching kids, Violet

Lesson 846 – Getting rid of roos – continued

Yesterday I wrote about how to get rid of unwanted roosters from your flock.

One of my readers responded by sending me this important piece of email:

While I admire your forthright way of helping people find ways of disposing of their unwanted cockerels, perhaps before you advise them to give them away, you may inform them of a fate worse than the stew pot.  Like you, if I could eat my own birds, I’d be eating healthy food and my birds’ deaths wouldn’t be totally unwarranted.

 

Unfortunately, when you do find someone who will “take them off your hands,” or will actually pay you a few dollars for them, they are going to be used as bait birds in training fighting cocks.  I realize that this despicable practice is illegal now in all 50 states, but it continues unabated.  Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Life Lessons, Roosters, The Family

Lesson 845 – What to do about the roos?

It’s that time of year again. No, not when the kids go back to school, although I have to admit that’s a pretty exciting event in any parent’s life, but instead, it’s the time when many of our Spring chicks have matured enough that we can no longer deny what is clearly right in front of us.

We’ve got some roosters.

I’m starting to get messages like:

I have a buff ameraucana roo- about 5.5 months old and a white silkie roo- 14 wks old I need to re-home. If you know of anyone looking, please let me know.

And:

I am looking for a home for this guy who is about 6 mos.  He is too protective to the flock when they are in their pen but running free outside he is fine.  i just can’t have them free all day while I am not home. Any suggestions would be welcomed. 

As anyone who reads my blog or who attends my chicken classes knows, I believe that roosters DO NOT *ever* belong in residential flocks (and that old argument that if my neighbor has a barking dog, I can keep a rooster just doesn’t hold water with me.)

But even if you’re careful, and I mean really careful, you can still get roosters. I know of someone who got a rooster when she ordered pullets from a mail-order hatchery. I’ve been told by “chicken experts” that I’ve got pullets who then turned into roos. I’ve feather sexed my young chicks and have gotten that wrong and I’ve “taken a chance” on birds and, yup, gotten roosters. (note: I’ve learned that just because they are really cute doesn’t mean that they are the girls.)

Unless your chicks are sex-linked there is no real way to tell if you have a rooster or not. Continue reading

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Lesson 793 – Grasshoppers and babies

The high schoolers have finals this week which means that they are getting home early from school.

 

And this also means that they are hanging around the house, half-studying and half-bugging mom.

 

“Mom, can you drive me to the store?”

 

“Mom, what’s for lunch?”

 

“Mom….”

 

Yesterday in an attempt to buy a few minutes of time so that I could finish an article I was working on, I sent Addy outdoors with my camera (be careful, I just got it back from being repaired) to take a few pictures of our new babies.

 

I want to remind you that this is my daughter Addy, who has yet to meet a baby she didn’t love. All I can say is – Addy, sweetheart, be careful, that’s how you end up with 6 kids.

 

Here are some of her masterpieces.

 

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And of this one, Addy said:

 

“Look at how that one is so proud and puffing out his chest. I’m thinking that one’s a male.”

 

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Ah, little grasshopper, you’ve learned well.  Now go back to studying.

 

 

***
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Life Lessons, Mama Hen, Maran chickens, Violet

Lesson 553 – The rooster in Cincinnati

We’re here in Cincinnati and although I haven’t found a chicken yet, I have found a reason for what I do.

After Trevor had his 2 hour gymnastics practice session this morning, we went to an outdoor square in order to have a pastry and a (long) overdue cup of coffee. As we were sitting at our table, we heard a little boy call out “A rooster! A rooster, mommy!”

Trevor and I both looked at each other in that “No, way, there’s a rooster here??!!” way. I mean what are the odds, that we would go five states away from New Hampshire only to find a male chicken in our midst?

We excitedly looked around, ready to pay homage and respect to the rooster in Cincinnati.

What we found instead was this:

That is what the little boy called a rooster.

And that is why I do what I do. I write about chickens because people have lost their connection to their food and the animals that supply that food. People don’t remember that food needs to be grown and animals that provide our food need to be cared for. We’re all in this together.

They don’t know that we can learn so many lessons from living with our food and taking care of it.

And as long as little kids think that pigeons are roosters in Cincinnati, I think I may still have a very good reason to do my job.

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, In the News, Life Lessons, Personal, The kids

Lesson 509 – Sexing a day old chick by its wings

A reader (amy elizabeth of tbn ranch) yesterday left a comment on my rooster blog about sexing day old chicks based on their wing feathers. I had heard of this technique but by the time I got around to looking at Charlie’s wings, she was much too old for this to be considered a valid indicator. Although I have never had a chance to use this technique, amy elizabeth  claims that it works consistently.

I plan to make a visit to our local feed store to take pictures of little chick wings to see if I can capture this technique. In the meantime, I’ll pass on the information but like the pendulum at a baby shower – I must caution you to use it at your own risk (in other words, don’t come crying to me if you get a rooster.)

amy elizabeth wrote:

I thought I’d pass on a little trick I learned a few years back that might help you… a lot. Sexing day old chicks is easy if you just look at the wing. Continue reading

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Roosters

Lesson 508 – how you can tell you’ve got a rooster

We’ve had to harvest a total of 3 roosters this winter. All from the eggs that we had incubated during the summer and while we had our suspicions, we waited until the last minute (or the neighbors complained) before we took action.

Baby chickens all look alike (except of course for sex-linked birds) you really can’t tell if a bird is male or female until they get older.

Oh, for sure, there are some clues along the way. For example, for the most part males have bigger, thicker, legs and feet than the hens do.

Here is a rooster’s feet:

And here is a lovely lady checking out those feet.

Although roosters will have a larger comb than the ladies, hens can and do develop impressive combs, so – at least initially – the presence of a comb is not a reliable way to tell if you have a bad boy in your flock. Continue reading

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Lesson 497 – the trouble with those boy chickens

Update on Charlie –

I’ve had a few people who have looked at the photos of Charlie (I added some more close-ups to yesterday’s post) and for the most part, they agree that she is most probably a female but there is still some doubt. In particular, there is that copper dappling on her back that usually only happens in males.

But then she’s got the posture, rounded feathers, and small comb of a female, so who knows? And for anyone out there who wonders why roosters “sneak” into flocks, point them to this entire discussion. You just never really know until the cock crows.

She (yup, that’s what I’m going with) was born with a genetic defect (her webbed feet) so it is possible that there are other little defects in there and of course, as one person pointed out, she could also be a mix (which is fine with me, I was never going to breed her anyway.)

Enter now the waiting game.

But while we wait on her, we have to deal with the roosters (2) that have blossomed from our 10 eggs that were hatched this summer. If you recall one chick died a few months after she was born, so out of 9 remaining birds, it looks like we got ourselves 3 roosters. That’s a 30% rate.

Again, it’s why I stress that backyard chicken owners need to know how to handle roosters. They don’t belong in an urban setting (unless you have tons of acreage) and good luck trying to get rid of them (if you doubt me just check out the “Free Roosters” ads on Craigslist.)

Not only are roosters loud (and they are, here’s a link to one of our newest neighborhood annoyance) but they also can cause a lot of damage to your flock. (BTW, that’s Zelda who mooned us and then FELL off the perch at the end of the video – too bad they don’t have an America’s funniest home chicken videos show.)

Roosters mate by mounting the squatting female. Roosters don’t have penises (prompting my sons to tell me that “cocks don’t have cocks”) what they do is line up their cloaca with the female’s cloaca, once they are in the general area they release the sperm that will inseminate the female.

Sounds relatively easy until you liken the act to having sex while riding on a bucking bronco. To help make sure that things work out right, the rooster holds on with his (large) feet and grabs the females neck feathers. Continue reading

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, Charlie, chicken care, Chicks, Roosters

Lesson 493 – Do you need a rooster to get eggs?

I mentioned this in one of my last posts but I decided to create a post dedicated to this one question. It’s what I get asked ALL the time.

Do you need a rooster in order to get eggs from your hens?

The answer is no. Absolutely not.

You need a rooster only to get baby chicks.  If you have hens, you’ll still get your daily eggs  even without a cock in the house.

I think the confusion here is that people think of eggs as being baby chicks and they are not, eggs are eggs. Hens are females on a cycle just like women are on a cycle. For a hen, though,  roughly every 18 hours an egg is released (can I just say a “Thank God” that women don’t work this way.) This is done whether a rooster  is involved or not. It’s how the hen’s body is programmed.

If the egg has been fertilized, then it has a chance to grow into a little baby chicken (provided there is a broody hen around who is willing to sit on the eggs.) If the egg is not fertilized then it passes through the system and is disposed of. It will never amount to much (except for a tasty breakfast.) Continue reading

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Lesson 471 – Directions on how to humanely kill a rooster

This post is going to be about the ethical harvesting of a rooster. There are going to be photos along with detailed instructions on the process.

If you want to read about it, click on the “more…” button. If you’d rather skip it, that’s fine, tomorrow I’ll start telling some of the many stories I collected while attending the Northeastern Poultry Congress (and one of those stories is about becoming a mama hen to a new baby chick.)

For those who choose not to read the rest of this rooster killing post, I’ll leave you these parting words… it’s wasn’t as bad as we had imagined it would be. Continue reading

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Roosters