Why is it that you give a creature a little bit of testosterone, everytime, he thinks he is the guy in this picture? I swear to you, this is what all four of my roosters see when they look in their mental mirrors.
Right now, they are all chest-puffing, wing-flapping bravado like they’re all the hugest, toughest guys in the world.
And I, for one, am sick of it. I knew this day would probably come. And I have had multiple plans for reducing my male chicken population. But, I had been biding my time. Things had been going fine. JB was in charge, he didn’t let the other boys do much, there was no fighting, and everything was relatively peaceful. So, why not let sleeping dogs lie?
Well, they’re not sleeping anymore. Twice this afternoon – TWICE, I tell you – all four boys GANG RAPED Dorothy. It was awful and I won’t have it anymore. I don’t know what it is about Dorothy, but she makes them all go crazy. Both times, what happened was, Scruff would get it in his head that he wanted to mate her. So, he danced and sang for her. And she ran. So he chased her. This alerted the attentions of the other roos, then they all ran in that direction. Eventually, someone would catch her and she would submit, but the others would stand around, clawing at her and pecking at her head and face. AWFUL I TELL YOU. Oh, but it’s not over yet. Then, once one was done, before she could get up, another would get on top, while the others kept pecking and scratching. And so on and so forth until ALL FOUR had mated with her. She looked and sounded SO miserable when this was happening. Wouldn’t you?
I have to admit, I don’t get it. This only happens with Dorothy. No wonder she tries to stay away from everyone all the time! In all other cases, when Scruff dances for a lady, either she ignores him and he gives up, or she submits, in which case JB comes flying in and kicks Scruff off. But Dorothy makes them lose their minds. She must give off some serious pheremones or something.
And, you may be asking, rightfully so, where was Lisa during these monsterous events? Well, the first one happened right in front of me… poor Dorothy didn’t pay attention when she was running from Scruff and she ran directly into a wall of bird netting on one of my garden boxes. By the time she got there, all four boys had arrived and she was stuck. I did my best to kick the boys in the head while they assaulted her, but I only had limited success. I was trying not to hit Dorothy at all. The second time, everyone had gone into the coop/run for the night and I was about to close the door, but Dorothy was still out, perched on the bench. She did NOT want to go in. So, I picked her up off the bench and gently placed her in the run and closed and locked the door. As soon as this happened, Scruff HAD to have her and grabbed her and the other three idiots came running to join the fun. By the time I could get the door back open (it’s very secure so critters can’t open it), it was over. I was so mad I was seeing red by then, and I came in to write this post.
Contributing to my rage was the fact that JB seriously considering going for me again today. He didn’t actually do it, but he headed toward me, eyeing me and flapping his wings and wouldn’t back off. So, I carefully went over and got my plywood bat and carried it around with me the rest of the time. If he flapped at me, I flapped back with my giant plywood “wing.” He seemed to get the message.
Anyway, I’m trying to keep in mind that all four of my boys have very good qualities. They really and honestly all look out for the ladies. At least one or two of them is always looking around for danger at any given time, and they sound the alarm for the smallest of things (i.e. butterflies). And once one cries, “hawk!” The other roos all freeze, look up and make the call too. Also, they all dance and sing to court the ladies… almost no one grabs a lady against her will anymore (except when it comes to Dorothy. sigh.). And they all let the ladies eat the best food… if I bring in a bowl of yogurt and seeds and veggies, the boys always check it out first and then cluck loudly to tell the girls that it’s good stuff, and then all four stand back to let the girls eat. The boys each only take a few small bites. And they all do the “buck. buck. buck. buck. BUCK! BUCK! BUCK!” thing when a good bug or fruit or seed is found and it is always given to a lady (if the ladies listen, which is only about half the time). All of this is what roosters are supposed to do.
So…. I’m hoping to solve the ganging up on Dorothy problem by reducing the overall number of boys. I *think* that Cori from My Empty Nest Days is going to come take Scruffy to be her new ruler of the roost. She says her girls are lost without a man, and since poor Scruff is last in line here at my place and he’s always trying so hard to impress the ladies (again, you have to ignore the issues with Dorothy) to no avail, I figure he will be blissfully happy at his new home. All 9 ladies to himself… it will be the life of a king! Hopefully he doesn’t let it go to his head and he stays nice enough. If not, he may go the way of Mister… it’s just the way of the world.
So, if this post doesn’t change Cori’s mind, then soon I will be down from four roosters to three. We will see if that makes a difference. Ultimately, I believe I would like two or maybe even one. But we’ll see how three goes.
Garter Snake Rescue #2
As many of you know, and as some others may have guessed, I am a great lover of snakes and all thing reptile. This may seem a bit odd, considering I have a completely irrational and all-consuming fear of moths and caterpillars, but there you have it. Cover me in snakes, spiders, mice, rats, and nearly anything else that normal people may not like, and I’m happy as a clam. Show me so much as a photograph of anything at any stage in the family Lepidoptera and I lose my mind. I just thought I’d get that out in the open. Moving on.
The other day, I had the unfortunate opportunity to have to play doctor to another garter snake. I was out checking out my garden when I spotted this large and lovely lady sitting up against the bottom of one of my boxes. there was nothing strange about that… I see garter snakes every single day around my garden. It is situated mere yards away from our pond (garter snakes love water and eat fish and amphibians along with worms and slugs, etc) and we have plywood boards that sit on the ground around the boxes that serve as weded barriers and walkways. The snakes love to hide under these boards and search the garden for frogs and bugs. Anyway, I bent down for a closer look and it struck me that she didn’t move away. She just sat there. So, I went to pick her up to see what was wrong, and I suddenly saw a familiar sight.
She had somehow crawled through several of the tiny, square openings in some of the bird netting that was bunched on the ground at the corner of the box. As she crawled forward, the squares tightened on her ever-thickening body, unti leventually she was stuck. This was familiar to me because one of the years when I lived on my family’s ranch in California, I had quite a number of gopher snakes do the same thing. It was weird… it was over a 3 or 4 day period and I found several a day… sometimes as many as four all tangled together in a ball, all wound up in the netting. And then it stopped, and in my three years there it never happened again. Anyway, point is, I am experienced at removing this stuff from snakes and to this day I have never lost a single snake or so much as harmed one. Ideally, I would keep the netting completely off the ground so as to prevent this from ever happening again. Someday when we have our permanent garden enclosure (to keep out chickens, wild birds, bunnies, raccoons, and other critters), this will be the reality.
Anyway, I left her there, ran and got my scissors, cut the clump of netting around her free from the rest of it and took her inside, out of the scorching sun (snakes can fry in the sun… they have no internal mechanism for thermal regulation). Then I proceded to insert my scissors gently between the plastic and her body and snip snip until she was free again. Then I gave her a quick rinse under the tap and we took her out for a brief photo session in the sun and then I let her go over by the pond. She was very large for a garer snake and quite healthy-looking. I believe she was pregnant. Garter snakes so not lay eggs like some snakes; instead, they give birth to live babies.