Let’s get something straight. I don’t have a rooster to give away. I am simply asking a rhetorical question:
Who needs a rooster as part of their flock?
“We do” is the quietly whispered answer.
After the crazy shenanigans of our Roo, FM and I have been pretty content to no longer have a rooster around. Our tiny flock of four hens and two unsexed chicks seem to miss him almost as much as we do (which is to say – Not At All). The hens no longer have to escape his unwanted attention. There is no more mad flapping to throw him off their backs. There is no more trickery as he deceitfully led them to non-existent food with a mind to take them by surprise. Everyone seems to have taken a deep breath and relaxed. The Queendom is home to happy hens who have not a care in the world.
But then, we lost Peeps.
A week before Christmas, we found Peeps dead in a mound of her own feathers with her back side ripped open. Tweedle Dum fared better, having managed to squirm into a tiny space under the garden shed and escape the attack. Dum lost quite a few of her tail feathers during her escape and she was quite traumatized, having been less than a foot away from the demise of her BFF. Although we are unsure what animal killed Peeps, we have placed the blame on a neighbourhood dog who must have chased her and shaken her to death. It could have been a raccoon, despite the facts that it happened at noon in broad daylight, she still had her head (raccoons are known as the brain-eating zombies of the chicken world) and we rarely see raccoons here. I’m sticking with dog mauling.
There is a point in bringing up these gruesome memories. Would Peeps still be alive if we had had a rooster in our flock? Since their main role is to procreate, roosters are masters at keeping their ladies at hand. They don’t let hens wander away alone, but instead lure them back by enticing them with found food. Roo could often be seen, sprinting around the yard, calling each of his girls back home. If they wandered away in search of grubs and fresh greens, he would accompany them and keep one eye toward the sky, on the look-out for eagles. He rarely ate outside the coop. Instead, he would spend his time searching for food for them, watching for dangers, announcing his territory (every 10 seconds!) and attacking FM.
The only time I miss Roo is when I think of Peeps and her untimely death. She was a beautiful Welsummer hen with the fluffiest backside that you ever saw. She was made for sitting on a nest and raising chicks, although she didn’t live long enough to do this. She had a gravelly cluck that reminded me of an old waitress in a diner who just got back from her smoke break. She was the Den Mum of our coop, insisting on regular bedtimes and keeping the peace when tempers rose. When it came time to roost, she preferred the spot at the top left and, if anyone took her spot, she was able to unseat them by putting her neck under their wings and sending them off balance.
So, the question remains. Do we need a rooster? My gut feeling is that we already have a new rooster in one of our baby chicks. Any day now, Benedict will reveal if he is the new man about town. I continue to wait (and hope).