For a Monday, this has been a pretty exciting day on the homestead. This morning as I let chickens out of the coop I thought “I am tired of keeping those two mama hens caged with those babies.” So I decided to open their pens and see what happened. They’ve been so bad about viciously attacking each other that I did not hold much hope today would be much different. But it was different. Very different.
When I opened the two pens the mamas both came out into the coop. They both called their babies out. It was a little cool this morning, so within just a few minutes, they both went into the SAME pen and laid next to each other, with babies tucked beneath them. I was shocked, to say the least. These are the same two little hens that left each other bloody each time they were let out of their pens in the past. For some reason, today was the day that they decided to get along. I was just tickled pink.
Every 30 minutes or so I would run out to the coop and make sure I still had two alive mama hens. Around 10AM, I ran out to check on them and got just inside the chicken run when I looked up and saw this:
Those mamas had those little chickens out in the chicken run! And they were having the time of their lives. Those babies ran and flew and scratched and pecked and played like crazy. Amazingly, every once in a while one mama would have all five chicks looking for food with her while the other mama took a break and stretched her legs alone for a while. There was no fighting between them at all. You can not imagine my relief. I was worried those mamas would be penned up when their babies started laying eggs!
Everything was going along wonderfully. I could not have been happier. Then early this afternoon, Bernie and I were standing in the kitchen talking when something caught our attention out the window. Duke was balled up with what we thought was Bobby Lee, rolling around on the ground in front of the chicken run. I opened the door just in time to hear one of the loudest, most gawd awful sounds I’ve ever heard. As I ran out into the yard, I startled Duke and he jumped back and let go of a huge chicken hawk! I could not believe it! Duke had attacked a chicken hawk, and he beat the snot out of that thing. That chicken hawk took off flying like a bat out of h-e-double-hockey-sticks and as far as I know that thing is still flying. I am so proud of my boy! When I first walked out he had his spurs sunk into that chicken hawks back, and his beak was holding the back of the hawk’s neck.
I am certain the hawk came in for one of the baby chicks. Thankfully, they were in the chicken run, which is covered with a shrimp net. Apparently, when that hawk came down Duke was on him quicker than flies on poop. Those chicken hawks are fast – but not as fast as my Duke!
For the rest of the afternoon, Duke stationed himself inside the chicken run. He was ever vigilant.
Just look at how puffed up and proud he is. He did quite a bit of strutting around.
Everyone was understandably quite upset after the chicken hawk incident. Most of the chickens were hiding under my garden shed. A couple had run into the garage through the door Bernie had left open. All of the chicks were just fine. And Duke appears to have no damage at all. I was sure to give Duke a bunch of shrimp and rice we had leftover from supper last night as a special treat for being such a brave, heroic rooster. And, like the gentleman and good rooster he is, he called his girls over and they ate most of it.
A few of you have written to tell me I should get rid of my roosters, or pen them up to prevent them from damaging my hens’ backs. Yes, roosters can be frustrating and even challenging at times. But this experience is exactly why I will not do either of those things. I love my roosters and they serve a purpose. They look after the flock and they take care of their girls. I can sew chicken saddles to solve the rooster tracks issue. And besides, the girls look quite fashionable in them.
And while we’re speaking of chickens, I noticed today that one of the White Faced Black Spanish chicks is one of Duke’s babies. Duke is a Silver Gray Dorking and he has five toes. Looky here:
Five toes! There is only one other chick that has five toes and I know is Duke’s. I’m not sure how dominant that five toe thing is in the genes. I’m guessing it’s possible he is the father of more of the chicks, but they didn’t get his five toe gene? I’m really not sure. I would be surprised if he isn’t the father of most of them. Duke is very “affectionate” and, although he has his favorites, he’s not very discriminating, if you know what I mean.
Diesel and Dolly are doing so well. They are the smartest, most affectionate little puppies. Little? Did I say “little”?
Lordy, that’s a good looking crew there. I could just kiss the fur right off of their faces. All three of them.
Hey – a big shout out to the five bloggers that signed up for the Pay it Forward. If you get a chance, check out their blogs!