Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Survival of the cutest

Two of Ellen's boys.

So our final sexing of Ellen's four eggs/chicks is done, now that they are morphing into adults more and more with each passing turns out, Ellen's eggs produced three roosters and a hen.  I won't pretend I'm not disappointed at this end result. Three hens and a rooster would have been a lot more manageable. 

That's because while one rooster can add character and charm to a homestead, more than one can sound like bedlam at 5 a.m. Even with one rooster, there is sometimes a risk of it being a bad fit for your operation. I could tell you tales of roosters that would keep you up at night...the one who would wait to attack until you were standing with one of your horse's hooves between your knees, and would jump on you, peck you and rake its nails across your back.  The one who would jump from the bushes when you were least expecting it with spurs at the ready...roosters can be tough to raise and even tougher to give away, because everyone with property has dealt with at least one mean one in their lifetime and many people who keep hens have absolutely zero desire to have a 'roo.

In a way, I've gotten lucky, because two out of the three boys already have homes to go to. One will go down to head up a flock at the winery, another to some neighbors who lost their rooster recently, and I guess I will keep one.

But while these little guys were so very cute when they were small (just like most baby animals), now they are getting some serious adolescent behavior going on and challenge each other at every turn. Not so cute.

I believe this growing up thing is the only reason why most of us are able to live with eating animals. That pig who was so cute as a piglet (and therefore inedible for many of us) is a lot more belligerent and bossy once she's a sow. Even calves and sheep lose their adorableness once they hit adulthood and push you around, charge you or just run from you because they've decided they don't like you anymore. Some remain pets and will be friendly forever, but most grow into their natural natures and are just not as friendly, which is probably what historically has made it easier to dispatch them. 

Taste is another thing, but I am not sure that, even if dog meat tasted like bacon, that we could slaughter dogs in our culture. That's because unlike livestock, dogs remain friendly and loyal long into adulthood.  And it's not only dogs, many farms have at least one "sacred cow," wandering around; some critter that endeared itself to the farmer so much it was spared the knife or bullet for life.

We will see how we do with one rooster.  My only advice to him is this:  Stay cute, my friend.  Stay cute.


  1. I'm sorry you didn't get more females! I'm hoping for his sake that he stays cute and sweet! It seems like there are 90% more roosters in the world than hens. Haha that wasn't supposed to be a metaphor, but it's a pretty good one!

    1. I think he'll stay nice; all three of them are pretty agreeable so far and I think they'll make great flock protectors...but not be aggressive with people, SO important. And you are right, it does seem like the roosters outnumber the hens in life haha.