As you all can tell, we are trying to communicate with you more about what is going on around here. We welcome any questions or comments, as well as suggestions on anything you want to hear about. Today we thought we’d tell you a little bit more about the flock of birds.
During the summer we will have two flocks of hens out in the pasture. We never put the new birds with the older birds. You’ve heard the term “pecking order”, right? Well, the saying is literal. When you put 250+ young hens with 250+ older hens, the older ladies try to put them in their place. As we watch the younger hens grow and eventually get big enough to go out in the field, we realize that some are not fit for field life. This is how we end up with our own backyard brood, and this begins the story of Bull Dog and Peanut.
Peanut is a hen who has lived in the barn since she was 3 weeks old. She didn’t fit in well with the other hens. They ran her over. She didn’t get much food. She was the runt. Emily took pity on Peanut, as Emily has always tended to do with the underdog. She graciously set up a waterer and a feed bucket. Peanut really is just the name that Eric and I call her. She also goes by Runter, Pee-Wee, and any other name that comes out. She has roamed the backyard and gardens for weeks now. We regularly find her hiding under the work bench in the barn. I think she is trying to play peek-a-boo. It’s pretty cute. She let’s Milo chase her. She walks slow and struts her stuff, until Milo gets close enough. At this point she is off as quick as can be.
Bull Dog became part of our backyard brood last week. Often when you get hens as chicks, you find your ladies are really roosters. Normally you would find about 4 roosters in the 250+ that we have in the field. This round, we have about 8. The pecking order has not been well established due to one rooster. For some reason he had developed a rogue set of chickens who followed him. Twice a day Eric or Seth would find about 20 chickens and this one rooster outside the fencing. It was becoming a bit trying. After watching the birds on one particular hot day, Eric figured out that this one rooster was getting his ladies together and making a break for it. It was our own Chicken Run. Eric realized that this rooster had to go.
Now for those of you who know Eric know that the brood reduction process is always hard. Last Sunday, Eric walked in the house saying, “Hey, I’ve got a rooster. I can’t kill him. What should I do with him?” After much discussion we decided to let him out in the backyard. Peanut had been close by listening to our conversation. As we let the rooster go he stood up straight and shook his feathers. Peanut looked at him and off they ran into the gardens. We have caught glimpses of them over the last few days, walking around, sometimes together, sometimes alone. The rooster is confident, almost cocky, no pun intended. He’s a Bull Dog, man.
We are starting to like our unintended backyard brood.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to add all of the other roosters to our backyard brood. We will have to butcher about 6 of them in the future, as we do each fall. We usually host a small group of 4-5 people who are interested in learning to butcher a chicken. If you are interested, please let us know.
Have a great weekend! See you at the market!