Well, folks, as you know, I’ve been away. And, while I was off flitting around with birdies of a very different type (more on that later), my parents and brother were here at the old homestead, holding down the fort. Our first day gone was all travel (airport delays and the like) and during one of our nearly four hours in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, I called my dad to ask how he did with letting the chickens out to free-range. His immediate response was, “That JB sure doesn’t like it when you try to put him away, does he?”
And I said, “Oh, yeah… sometimes they don’t really want to go back in right away.”
And he said, “Well, JB wasn’t very nice about it!”
“What, did he attack you?” I joked.
Oh, really. Well, that’s new. I have to admit I was surprised, but I kinda figured it was because my dad was overly aggressive about trying to get the chickens back in the coop/run. Like maybe he ran and yelled at them and waived his arms in an attempt to get it done quickly and JB percieved it as a threat. Seemed possible. Plus, it was the only time it happened. That first time, my dad gave him a couple of wallops with his shoe and that fixed the problem, and after that, he let them out and herded them back in once or twice a day without incident.
So, then we returned late Wednesday night, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went by as usual – no problems. It was today that I discovered that JB has a death wish. In fact, I had quite a lengthy conversation with him about it in which he assured me of his wishes. It went something like this:
Lisa: “Hiya, Big Man. It’s time to go back in the coop. Come on, let’s go.”
JB: <lowers head, flares neck feathers like an umbrella>
Lisa: “Oh yes, you’re a big, tough man. Now go on, shoo!”
JB: <leaps into the air and flogs Lisa’s legs with his wings>
Lisa: “Are you freaking kidding me?? I don’t think so! Get your ass inside!” <kicks at JB’s head>
JB: <ducks under every one of Lisa’s kicks, leaps into the air and tries to claw at her>
Lisa: “Do you want to die, rooster?!?!” <kicks at JB again with all her might and heads for the long plywood board on the ground nearby>
JB: “Yes, Lisa, I do.” <flogs Lisa’s legs again, lowers head to the ground and runs after her ankles>
Lisa: “Are you sure you want to die?” <reaches for the plywood, keeping her eye on JB>
JB: “Bring it on!”
Lisa: <whacks JB from the side with the plywood>
JB: <gives up, runs into the run, and crows at the top of his lungs>
So, you see, he was very clear about his wishes. And while he is alive and well in the coop right now as we speak, there were moments when I had my doubts. I was out there by myself and while JB and I were talking, the thought kept running through my head that I would have to go inside and explain to Brian that we’d be having chicken soup for dinner instead of the planned halibut. “I’m sorry Brian, but I just had to do it. He was ASKING for it.” And, trust me, if he keeps it up, that may still be his fate. I have always wanted to raise my own organic, free-range meat chickens. And I have three more roosters in there. Count ’em – THREE. JB is totally expendable. He should consider his actions carefully from here on out.
Not that I would be likely to kill him accidentally while fending him off. I have read on BYC about attack roosters and what do about them (carry a big stick, catch them and carry them around with you for hours at a time, hang them upside down by their feet for a while, do not let them breed in front of you, etc.) and what to do with them when that fails (eat them). And also I have read about how hardy they really are. Many times, a rooster has attacked, drawn blood, and gotten whacked with a 2×4 or a shovel. These roosters sometimes are knocked out cold and look for all the world like they’re dead. The people start to get out the picking and gutting equipment only to have the roosters hop back up and run away like nothing at all happened.
The one thing I plan on doing from here on out is to stop him from mating in front of me. I knew I was supposed to do that from the beginning, but I had gotten lax about it because with 11 ladies and a very large area to roam, it’s pretty tough to get to him in time, every time, before he has committed the act. But, I have been watching him, and I’m now more convinced than ever that it’s the right thing to do. Whenever one of the other three boys tries to mount a pullet, JB comes RUNNING at top speed and kicks his ass off the girl, pronto. He doesn’t allow any funny business around him and neither will I. You can count on it.
Anyway, the summary of this is that if I kill him, it will be intentional, probably not accidental. I bet he would be tasty. I also could choose to give him away. Or, I could keep him with the idea that he’s a “good protector” of his flock. Yeah, well, we’ll just have to see about that. Stay tuned.
Holy Combs and Muffs, Batman!
Other than the charming new tricks from JB, the biggest change I noticed was in none other than Lady B. She’s like a whole new woman! Her comb growth has been ahead of the others’ for a while now, but in the 6 days I was gone, she got a much bigger comb, much more beard and muff growth, and new neck feathers with black and gold patterning on them. She looks totally different to me! In fact, she’s starting to look a lot like one of the other Easter Eggers (yet unnamed).
Also, Blance has had quite a bit of recent comb-and-wattle growth. This is her on June 2nd (the last pic I have of her before today):
And here she is today:
So Much Singing, So Few Eggs (Like, Zero)
I have no picture of Dorothy for you because her new trick is to hide in the coop when everyone else comes out to play. Sometimes she’ll hang in there a while and finally come out with the others. When she does this, JB immediately runs her down and mates her, so I don’t blame her for hiding inside. Anyway, yesterday, for the second time (I told you about the first time here) while she was inside, she did the egg song. And for the second time, JB got his panties in a wad over it. And for the second time, I was naively hopeful that she had laid an egg for me and that was the cause of the song (buckbuckbuckbuck buhGAWK! buckbuckbuck buhGAWK!!). Alas, no. Trust me, if I get an egg, you’ll all hear about it, first thing! At 19 weeks old, the girls are getting close. Nearly all of them submit to JB’s mating now with little to no fuss, and as you can see, faces are getting redder (a sign that laying is near). Hopefully it won’t be long now!
There is much garden news from this past week and I will fill you in soon. I got sidetracked tonight by some chatting with an old friend and I have run way past my bedtime (yes, I know this happens too often). The most exciting thing is that I have actually started to havest some things! Among the take are tons of Mara Des Bois strawberries, English shelling peas (sweet like candy!), sugar snap peas, snow peas (accidental crop – seeds were mixed in with the sugar snaps), and lettuce. Yay!