Goats, rabbits, chickens (pages)


Josephine: a black Cochin.  This is a very docile gentle breed.  We LOVE her.
Josephine is a widow.  Her friend and mate, Napoleon, met his Waterloo a couple summers ago when he was no match for the Fox  Who Lives On The Hill.  She is the last of her kind--at least here at Rocky Creek.  All of our other Cochins have succumbed to one predator or another--a side effect of free range.

Anyway, Josephine decided a couple weeks ago tha tshe wanted to be a mom.  I tried to discourage her because it was so darn cold.  But, her little four-year-old-self persisted and when the weather decided to zoom up to seventy several days in a row, I acquiesced.  

Some prospective chicken mothers (brooders)  don't take kindly to being moved from their original nest to a different location.  No matter if their original choice is not conducive to chick hatching.  So, when I readied her little "brooder house" (with the help of FarmBoy Gary and Bob (the tractor) I prayed she would accept it. 

I picked her up gently from her original choice in the hen house; she didn't even fuss.  Chochins are just sooooo sweet.  When I put her down in her new digs, she protested slightly.  She fussed with the Pennies through the cage and walked the perimeter with a agitated gait.  There are two nests to choose from; I put straw in both and added 3 eggs in one.  As a test.  I didn't want to fill up the nest with eggs because if she decided she didn't like the new nest the eggs would have gotten too cold last night.  Yes, it's been going from 72 during the day to 29 and night. Go figure.

I checked on her throughout the afternoon and she was ignoring the nest.  But, by the time I shut up all the chickens at dusk, she was happily ensconced in her maternity room.  So, today when I gather eggs I'm going to give her a full nest.  

Oh, and don't worry about those 3 I put in yesterday.  Hens have a way of getting eggs to all hatch on the same day.  I teach about that in my Animal Husbandry classes.  (I have one coming up check it out here--it's the Backyard/Barnyard Chicken class: SPRING 2015 CLASSES

Check back for Josephine's journey to Motherhood.

Game of Thrones
Randy is my Ameracauna rooster.  As with all my roosters they were supposed to be pullets.  I guess the chicken sexers can have an off day, too.  Randy is beautiful, white with brown lowlights, a tight little rose comb and tail feathers that fly in the wind when he runs.  As an adolescent he bothered the hens incessantly-hence his name.  He was shy around the other roosters and always stayed on the perimeter of chicken gatherings.
Randy, an Amercana rooster

Raven, a Jersey Giant rooster.

Raven is true to his name and breed—Jersey Giant--and is jet black.  He was 6th in line to the Alpha male role but was catapulted to first when his brothers gave the ultimate sacrifice for the deep freeze.  His tall red comb and large crimson wattles signal a warning to stop other males in their tracks.  He struts and prattles and woos the hens; he calls them over to share sweet morsels of worms and other creepy crawlies he finds in the ground.
Randy with his diminutive demeanor had managed to keep under Raven’s radar.  But, one day Randy came of age.  He passed some unseen rooster threshold and became a man.  Something changed that only Raven could see and Raven didn’t like it.  Randy couldn’t get anywhere near Raven or Raven’s little band of hens without getting attacked.  Raven thoroughly flogged Randy if he even looked at him or heaven forbid, a hen.  Randy learned to keep his distance.
Then, after months of this behavior, Randy had had enough.  He began to fight instead of flee.  For days they challenged one another.  I’d break them up and a couple hours later they’d be at it again.  After about 5-6 days they had a knock-down-drag-out and Raven retreated to the barn area leaving Randy the victor.
Randy crowed his little heart out and proudly took over the provider role by finding tidbits for the hens and marking them as his own.  Raven actually hung his tail, those proud plumes dragging in the dirt.
 When I fixed feed Raven came over to the barrels.  Normally I don’t allow chickens around the feed barrel area (Cassie, my Australian Shepherd enforces this rule) but Raven was so “broken” in spirit I couldn’t help but give him a little bit of oats.  Whereas before he would cluck and strut and call in the girls, now he ate in total silence.  It broke my heart.  I told him he was reaping what he sowed.  Chicken karma.
I have a small brooder house close to the chicken house.  I use it to raise chicks and as extra housing when I don’t have babies.  I had opened up the door to let the hens scratch around and loosen up the “layers” in preparation for spring cleaning.  (See www.rcvfarm.blogspot.com for my layering story)  When I closed up the chickens for the night I found Raven taking solace in the brooder house…all alone.  No hens.  Just a broken little man stripped of his ego.   I closed the door to keep him safe.
It’s been about a week.  Two days ago they started fighting again.  Yesterday I found Randy sulking in the chicken house, his beautiful rose comb torn and oozing blood down his face.  I went in search of Raven.  He was out by the barn; bleeding but walking around.  They both looked pathetic.  Is this any way to act?  Heavens to Betsy.  Why can’t you just get along!
Last night when I got to the brooder house it was empty.  I walked over to the chicken house; there was Randy on a roost on one side of the room and Raven on a roost on the other side.  Both soundly sleeping with hens all around them.  I feared they would be fighting at daybreak.  But, when I opened the door they weren’t anywhere near each other.  They ran out with the hens eager to be the first to find a bug.
It’s storming today.  I checked on them and Raven is in the brooder house with a gaggle of hens and Randy is in the chicken house overseeing the laying of eggs.  So, at least they aren’t fighting.  Today.
I pray they will learn to coexist.  To give and take.  To set the ego aside and live in peace.  I pray the game of thrones will be over and they will each take a group of hens and live amicably.   We’ll see.  I’ll let you know.
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