What Ever Happened to the Boys?

Oliver enjoys some supervised free range time. He's still a snuggler, but boy has he gotten cocky! (Photo courtesy of Robyn Hanson.)

When they left home in a cat carrier a few weeks ago, our young roosters went to stay with friends who live in the country about an hour away. The idea was that our friends would adopt one rooster and that we would continue looking for a home for the second one.

But things are never that simple around here. A week later, we got a phone call. Our friends had spent the afternoon introducing the roosters to the rest of the flock, and things had not gone as smoothly as anticipated. Instead of getting bossed around by the full-grown hens, our little roosters had terrorized them, chasing them down with adolescent bravado.

More surprisingly, they had terrorized the ducks. After taking just moments to identify the male duck in the group, Oliver and Finn had chased him relentlessly. The duck, a non-confrontational fellow about three times their size, eventually took them each by the neck feathers and pinned them gently but firmly to show them who was boss. But with foolhardy machismo, our trouble-makers returned to their duck-chasing ways less than five minutes later. At this point, the duck became intimidated and started running from them too.

Our search was on; we had to look for two homes instead of one.

Anybody in the know will tell you that finding homes for roosters isn’t easy. And we’re a bit choosy, wanting to make sure our babies get to enjoy full rooster lives.

My tardy blog post spares you the stress and uncertainty of the past few weeks. Suffice it to say we have located two potential homes in our local area. But there’s also been an unexpected turn of events in the flock. Sweety, an 11-year-old hen of uncanny rat killing expertise, has taken a liking to Finn.

Finn is in hog heaven with a bunch of grownup lady hens to keep him company. Sweety, ever watchful, is the golden hen in the background. (Photo courtesy of Robyn Hanson.)

After the first botched introduction, the roosters have been living in a portable chicken tractor where they can socialize with our friends’ flock without having physical access to it. Apparently, over the past several days Sweety and Finn began eyeing each other through the avian wire, spending time beak to beak and communicating in mysterious chicken ways.

Kelly and I went up for a visit yesterday afternoon and found Finn in with the girls. For the most part, he minded his own business, scratching for food while Sweety kept a watchful eye on him.  It remains to be seen whether his good behavior will earn him a reprieve, but reliable sources tell me Sweety is known as an excellent judge of character. She’s spent most of her life as top chicken, presiding over the flock with a firm but fair approach to keeping both the pecking order and peace intact. It’s been theorized that she may be grooming Finn as her successor (though as his mother, I wonder if he’s a bit on the ditzy side to follow in her footsteps).

As mentioned previously, Sweety is also known for deftly killing any rat who dares to enter the coop, cornering the animal and administering several stunning pecks to the head before using her beak to grab the creature by its nose and shake it violently until its neck breaks. I’m impressed. Finn has a lot to learn, and I hope he makes the cut.

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