First I tried selling pretty roosters. Then I tried gifting pretty roosters.
Yesterday we killed pretty roosters.
It was my chore to pick which ones. I felt a bit like Kali (Goddess who is both giver of life and bringer of death).
Last summer and fall the hens hatched out some eggs and most of them were roosters. So I knew this day’s activities would come sooner or later and I wanted to make sure it came before the roosters became aggressive in their desire to propagate their own genetics.
I chose three to keep and seven to kill. Three for our flock is still too many, but I don’t know how long chickens normally live and the old guy is almost 7. So one of the prettiest and healthiest looking young ones was spared as his future replacement. The keepers are named Old Man, Rufus, and Arnold.
Bet you can guess what was on the menu last night … Roosters in the freezer and roosters in the pot.
I made jambalaya & it was pretty good.
I roasted coffee.
That was a pleasant chore for all of the senses. In the meantime the guys carried out the rooster massacre. It was a task I’ve had to do before for myself and was glad to not be the one in charge of it this time.
Rob and Garrison reduced our rooster population by five. Two more to go, and then we’ll have three left that I intend to keep.
The hens are relieved to have some of that stress eliminated.
What kind of stress?
Well, it’s the sort of thing that motivated me to wring necks a few years ago. For a healthy and happy flock of chickens, there should be one rooster per 10 or so hens. This ratio ensures the eggs are fertilized, but the hens aren’t subjected to multiple breedings by multiple roosters all day long.
When there are too many roosters, they will gang up on a hen. This happened while I was outside feeding them one morning a few years ago while I was still naive to some of the obligations of a homesteader. In the span of a few minutes that morning, I wrung the necks of three roosters one after the other as they attacked a poor hen repeatedly to breed her.
If this situation is allowed to continue, the hens will be cut and scratched and her back feathers will be scraped off by the roosters jumping on her and holding her down. She will become scared, depressed, and quit laying eggs, and she will try to avoid interaction with the flock when she can.
It is my responsibility to the hens to make sure they are not abused. In nature, there would be predators eliminating extra roosters and they’d eventually start fighting to the death (or banishment) with each other. We have guardian dogs that keep predators at bay, and natural banishment here would be a death sentence to any chicken that wanders outside the guardian’s ability to watch, so we are the ones who must make the “natural selection”.
An interesting but morbid observation.
When Rob killed the first rooster and it was on the ground flopping around in death throes, the other young roosters rushed to it and started attacking it, pulling feathers and spurring it even as it died. They acted as if they were embroiled in a blood frenzy, oblivious to the fact that they, too were most likely on the “kill” list.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.