Champion of Chickens
When Gluten-Free Mama and HeadSodBuster started batting around the idea of raising chickens, a decade ago, I broke the bat over my knee and hoped the matter would drop. Replacing the broken bat with an aluminum one, they proceeded full-speed ahead; I even found myself helping HeadSodBuster build the coop.
“I’m not interested in chickens,” I declared. “They’re noisy, malodorous and I don’t like the eggs,” which was actually true at the time. They were so different from store-bought eggs that the difference alarmed me, and put me off. That’s a perfect example of the super market running roughshod over past practices, including the whole raw milk fiasco.
|Eggs at the Quarry Market|
Corporate ‘Merica has such a grip on our nation, that time-worn methodologies have been brushed aside and made illegal, so as to pave the way for the Walmarts of our culture. The shelves of this behemoth are stocked with toxic “food” products; the fact that these commodities can live on the shelves, indefinitely, should clue you in, as to the preservatives used to ensure this longevity.
“No problem,” everyone declared. “You don’t have to do anything,” and except for the occasional shutting of a coop door, or administering food and water when no one was around, I stuck to my guns. Because I had made it clear before the chickens had ever arrived, that I was a disinterested party, I never felt guilty about my hands-off approach.
For several years the flock dwelt up above HeadSodBuster and BossLady’s home, and they took care of the girls. Then the coyotes, bobcats, et al, struck with a fury and we took steps to relocate them back down to our spot, inside our fenced-in compound, complete with various dogs at various times.
Then Gluten-Free Mama got diagnosed, and suddenly it meant that HeadSodBuster or BossLady would have to go out of their way, to come down to our spot to tend the critters. This was a different matter because now GF Mama was in a jam and needed help.
I assumed full responsibility for the flock, nineteen strong, including two roosters. From the beginning it was abundantly clear the the roosters were the reason why there was so much racket. I’m not talking the conventional crowing, even if it started early; no, I am talking about the racket that the roosters created with their interaction with the seventeen hens.
|And then there were none-roosters, that is...|
One was just savagely brutal, mercilessly persecuting the hens for no reason I could discern. He was as mean as he was beautiful, and I took an intense dislike to him. One day I witnessed him hammer one of the most timid of the hens, and it lit my fuse.
I charged into the yard and went straight for him. Recognizing that he had taken it one step too far, the dude wisely took to flight and sailed up and over the six-feet-high fence. I stopped, momentarily taken aback. What now? Was I supposed to try and coax this malevolent dick, back into the fold?
Not on my watch. “You got out on your own, Bro, so you’re gonna have to get back in on your own.” I watched and waited. It was kind of pathetic, actually, to see him mope around the outside of the yard, for more than two weeks.
I don’t know where he roosted at night, but he was always around in the mornings, until one fine day he wasn’t. And then there was one rooster.
This second dude was not mean; in fact, I never saw him DO anything wrong. I just listened to him for sixteen hours a day, the most obnoxious farm critter I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Every time a hen would do the egg song, announcing her amazing accomplishment of laying an egg, this rooster would go off too.
Strident, cacophonous, intensely annoying, the racket grated on my bipolar nerves, and over time drove me nuts. “That’s why headphones, exist,” I started out saying, and then found out that even my Dr. Dre’s could not block out the high-pitched clamor.
In desperation, after centuries of battling this nuisance, I threw myself on the mercy of Meadow, down at the feed store, and she took pity on me. “Bring him down and I’ll keep him out in a cage expressly for this purpose, and someone is bound to want him. Is he mean?” And so I explained. It was as simple as that. I owe Meadow.
Now there is just me and my girls: Markie, the champion of the chickens.
I have found that cleaning their quarters weekly not only makes it a simple task, it has reduced the malodorous smell in the air. I have also come to realize how tasty the eggs are, so there.
For this past year, I have been funneling the manure onto a compost pile, layering it with dead organic plant matter and compost that is delivered to the farm in bulk, to create a mix that I will blend into the soil when I plant this spring.
I can’t have this much interaction with the girls, and derive all of the benefits, without gaining an affection and appreciation for them, as surprising as that is to me.
Ultimately, of course, it was the desire to be helpful to GF Mama that was the determining factor. I would do anything for her, and nothing proves it like this single course of action on my part.
That way I can be her champion too, as well as that of the chickens.
|Moving and mixing the pile from the right to the left.|