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Oh roosters, how I love thee

Chickens are my favorite species of birds. That's right, chickens. If you've never watched a flock of chickens, you are missing out. There is gossip, illicit affairs, intense debates and love-fests right out in plain view. Some roosters are bachelors, sneaking in to see their favorite hens before the other roosters find out. Other roosters don't get much action, too busy kicking off overzealous roosters from the backs of their ladies. Some hens love to dust-bathe with their favorite girlfriends, others prefer a secluded spot for their dusty rendezvous.

Yesterday, I drove down to Salinas to meet up with an animal control officer from Santa Barbara. And 18 roosters. Oh, they are such gorgeous creatures and with such wonderfully different personalities. It was an all day affair, this transport, so I didn't get any pictures. Most of them will be leaving today for their new homes, which is wonderful. Animal Place will keep two and I will get pictures  Monday.

Back to the roosters. There were three mille fleur bantams (they look like the first picture). One was nonplussed, one wanted to eat my hand and peck out my eye, and the other thought hiding his head in the crook of my arm was the proper response. All three were ridiculous looking creatures with feathered feet and poofy ear muffs.

Two araucanas (with serious ear tufts) and three ameraucanas - five very large roosters who I hugged and loved and who felt I was crazy. One of the ameraucanas will make for a wonderful companion - calm, comfortable being handled and loved making sweet, lovey-dovey cooing sounds to me. He was my Hero of the Rooster Transport. One tried to tear off my thumb, but I showed him who's boss by squealing like a girl (I am, so it makes sense) and waiting until he turned his back so I could make a sneak attack. Ha, he turned his flexible neck and nailed me on my wrist. Seeing as we were in the parking lot of a Target and I couldn't just throw him in the air, I hugged him real close and told him he was the worst rooster in the world. He calmed down after that. He's a bad boy, that one.

And then there were the silkies. Three black ones and two white ones. And they were all evil spawns of Rooster Satan who I am glad will be going far, far, far away. People love this breed of bantams. They're small, cute and fuzzy. Me? I think they are utterly silly creatures who look like idiots when it rains and can't actually do any flying, gliding or much of anything except look cute and act like jerks. People seem to like this. I make an exception for Animal Place's silkie bantam named Ferdie because he is awesome with the ladies and doesn't take advantage of them.

There was also a Phoenix rooster (looks like 2nd picture) who, next to the ameraucana love-dovey rooster, was my 2nd favorite. He was very docile and sweet. He didn't talk much, but I bet he'll perk up at his new home. I think he'll be pretty easy to introduce to other roos and will be quite the ladies man.

There was a big barred rock who weighed fifteen million pounds and who I nearly dropped. He forgave me because I told him he was one sexy beast and the hens were going to be SOO impressed with his manliness.

Rounding off the crew was a Japanese bantam, a dorky frizzle and some unknown bantam who will be staying at AP due to his awesome crow which sounds like this "WHEEEEEEEE - cock-a-doodle-doo". He's cool and suave and will probably not get any action with the hens. Oh well. The frizzle is going to another sanctuary and the other Japanese bantam is staying. You will have to do your own search on what a frizzle looks like, because I refuse to post any pictures of such stupid looking feathers. I like the birds, don't get me wrong, but I can't say I'm pleased with the idiot humans who thought curly feathers that get matted if you look at them funny was a good idea. We have one frizzle at the sanctuary; if he's not molting to look like a walking corpse of a chicken, he's getting his feathers all matted and looking like a walking corpse of a chicken wearing shit feathers. It's disturbing. Oh, and his name is Jean-Michele. Seriously.

Anyway, I'm blathering on about this because, let me tell you, there is NO animal that is harder to place than a rooster. None. I can find a homes for an 800lb Hampshire pig who's best friends with a 1,500 lbs angus steer quicker than I can find a home for a 2lb bantam rooster. I used to think euthanasias were the hardest part of this job, but I'm rethinking that. I think it's saying no to animals who are purchased by people wanting to just pass the buck on the responsibility of pet ownership/guardianship. In the past three weeks, we've had calls for us to take 56 animals. Fifty-six. No way can we take all those critters, no way. And most of them are roosters. With fifteen roosters of our own, we're pretty maxed out. It was a miracle I was able to get homes for 18 roosters. I'm dead serious - a miracle. It will never happen again, unless another miracle happens again.

TAKE HOME POINT: If you ever plan on getting chickens, don't buy them. Sexing day-old chicks is an art, not a science. At best, an experienced sexer can get it right 60% of the time. At worst, an inexperienced one is getting it right 20-30% of the time. Thems are not good odds. Most calls on roosters are from people who bought chicks that were supposed to be girls and some of them turned into boys. Call your local shelter or contact local small, egg farmers who depopulate and may give you hens for free (I don't particularly like this option, but I think it's better than buying from mail-order hatcheries or feed stores). And, if if it's legal, adopt a rooster! You won't regret it (unless you get the Satan Rooster, then you might).


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 21st, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
We're actually adopting six chickens tomorrow to be pest control for the vineyard! Though, we wanted eggs, too, so we're going chickens not roosters. Friends of the family 'ordered some online' expecting all one sex and ended up with half and half. They're keeping the roosters. JC is getting chickens to watch for his first bday--though they'll live on my parents' farm. They are funny looking designer chickens, not unlike your batch. The ones with no feathers on their heads are bizarre looking though. I don't care if it's on purpose, it's weird.
Mar. 21st, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
Hens are fun too, but roosters are the best! :)

I just got a call this week from a woman with the same experience; she ordered 30 "hens" and got 15 roos. Argh!

I hope you post pictures!
Mar. 21st, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
15 roos?!

Mar. 21st, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
LOL, I guess you wouldn't call roosters "roos" when you have kangaroos, right?

Edited at 2009-03-21 10:49 pm (UTC)
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
I almost made this mistake when text messaging you yesterday.

But now I know I would have been correct according to the Laws of Marji.

How many roo(ster)s can one have on an acre of land? I know nothing about their space needs other than I probably couldn't have neighbors within ear shot. *is dreaming of adopting a flock or two one day*
Mar. 25th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's right. If we call our roosters roos the roosters and the kangaroos BOTH get offended. Silly duffers.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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