Hi Top and Glenn, the chihuahua of roosters

I sat up all night with Hi Top. I was afraid if I didn’t, she’d die when I wasn’t looking. I can’t think of any metric by which she could be said to be doing well. She’s not doing well.

I force fed her some homemade electrolyte solution a few times. Wasn’t prescribed by the vet but I think she’s probably only swallowing half her meds, if that, and I won’t repeat the smelly details on what’s going on with her – it’s in the last post if you’re interested – but there’s no way she’s not dehydrated.

I’ve also never seen a chicken look at someone with actual hate before, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I got when I maneuvered the medicine dropper into her mouth and pushed the plunger. That or the most iconic “I am so done with you” chicken face ever.

I really need her to be ok, esp. after losing Raven earlier this year. Raven and Hi Top are (were) my two special girls.

Hi Top and partial view of Raven’s butt last year

So I didn’t get caught up on communication last night yet again, y’all, despite pulling an all-nighter. I’m really sorry. I’m just getting pulled in so many directions this week – well, for the last month, I guess. It’s kicking my butt, but I’m still among the healthy and living, unlike plenty of folks who started out 2020 that way but got interrupted, so I complain only sheepishly. But I’m starting to feel a little punch-drunk with the nonstop action lately.

In peripherally related news, when I went out to do dawn chores, Glenn, the black frizzled rooster, was giving the other boys a worse time than usual and generally being a bully. When I catch him doing this, I call this Glenn Needing a Hug; he gets picked up and toted around under my arm as I finish morning chores while I talk to him very calmly like he’s a small animal and make sure all the other chickens can see this happening.

Glenn: 14″ tall and definitely not bulletproof.

I want him to not panic around me or the prospect of being handled, but I also want him to know who’s in charge, what side his bread is buttered on, and that he isn’t actually 10 feet tall like he thinks he is. (He’s also not the head rooster, though he occasionally acts like he is, and Joe, who is the head rooster, is generally too busy doing his job to even take the bait when Glenn runs at him. He just dodges slightly out of Glenn’s way and goes about his business.)

This is Dickhead Joe, who’s the head rooster and who is not a dickhead at all. He’s a very good rooster. That was just kinda where my daughter was going with the chicken-naming at the time.

Well, the little shit took a run at me when I was going to pick him up for his “hug.” This is basically rooster fight mode – they kind of square themselves up and do this sort of flapping little run towards their opponent, chest out, almost leaning back a little as they move forward to make their chest protrude. It might seem kind of cute if you haven’t had to deal with the bloody aftermath of a rooster dustup before – they will eff each other up – and it *does* seem kind of cute when Glenn does it, ’cause he’s like a teacup rooster – at least at first.

We call this one Pretty Boy ’cause I guess we ran out of creative juice that day and, well, he is pretty. He’s Glenn’s favorite target for bullying.

But even teacup frizzled bantams have spurs unless you do something about them, and spurs suck no matter the size. While he kind of seems like a chihuahua – they tend to be forgiven more easily for bad behavior that could get a larger dog in a lot of trouble – the fact remains that bad behavior is bad behavior. Now, he didn’t actually “complete” the forward movement part and run at me – perhaps because I wasn’t responding in kind, ’cause I’m not a freakin’ rooster – but he sure did square up, and he was not cornered, which might have made it explicable.

This is simply unacceptable behavior towards a human being. We have an excellent rooster who is great with people and is vigilant, protecting and warning the rest of the flock from danger and treating the hens decently. We have zero reason to tolerate asshole roosters, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for roosters that are aggressive towards people. There are too many good ones to put up with a shitty one.

But I wanted a black frizzled bantam rooster, and I got a black frizzled bantam rooster, and it’s this little asshole I ended up with. And you can’t just pop down to the pet store in November and go pick up a new one. But I need a black frizzled bantam rooster. He might be a little shit, but unlike most roosters, he earns his keep merely by existing and being a chicken. I use his feathers to create charms, art, and implements for customers; they are ingredients in several of my formulas; and I use them in uncrossing and spiritual cleansing work for clients. I *need* Glenn (at least until I can replace his narrow little ass, if that ends up being necessary).

Now, I will give them a shot at redeeming themselves, and the first step is Rooster Needs a Hug. After a round of that, we see if they try that crap again or if they’re suitably chastened. Actually, that’s the only step, because I’ve never given a rooster a second chance if he ran at a person again after a first round of Rooster Needs a Hug. The one and only time I’ve had to do this before, we rehomed him before we had a chance to really assess a behavioral adaptation. (We just had too many roosters and it wasn’t fair to the roosters or the hens.)

So I’m not sure if Rooster Needs a Hug did any good or not. I kind of doubt it. Glenn is very, very full of himself and he seems to think he’s bulletproof. We’ve been very lucky; our roosters have been extraordinarily well-behaved. They’ve nearly all been home-hatched barnyard mutts, too. Glenn is the only storebought one we have :/ I understand there’s a widowed black bantam hen in Forestville, California, who would probably appreciate Glenn’s company lol… but in addition to that being on the opposite coast from me, practically, I don’t know if the humans involved would be so keen once they learned of Glenn’s appalling manners.

But I’m gonna threaten to put him on a train with a steamer trunk and send him to California every time he pisses me off now, I’m sure – at least until spring when I can shop for a new one and find him a new home if need be. I hope it’s not necessary. But I just had to get the one with “personality.” :/

Ok, time to go get the death glare from a very weak Hi Top šŸ˜¦

Meet the Chickens

I was reminded earlier that some people have never actually been around a real, live chicken before. So I thought I’d introduce y’all to our chickens in case you haven’t ever seen one up close and personal.

This pretty boy, whom we call Pretty Boy for lack of anything better, needs a new home, stat. He’s pretty but we have too many roosters.

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Bad things happen when you have too many roosters. This is one of them:

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See that bald spot? Mating basically involves a rooster jumping on the hen’s back and treading on her for a minute while holding tight to a beak full of her feathers and doing his thing. It looks remarkably unpleasant, and roosters that are too rough — or fight with each other while one of them is mounting or trying to mount a hen (sigh) — can actually kill the hen. Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often, but once is too much, so if you have no more than 10-12 hens, you are risking infighting and overbreeding with more than one rooster.

(We had been letting our broody hens hatch chicks, but we aren’t doing that anymore, because we can’t have any more roosters, and your chances of roosters are 50/50 when those eggs hatch.)

And even though we have two fewer roosters now than we did two months ago, the hens’ backs are looking worse than ever this week. Springtime – the boys are getting frisky.

This is one of them. His name is Glenn and he’s a frizzle bantam.

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He’s named after Glenn Danzig, and if you don’t know who that is, all you really need to know is one, he looks like this:

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Two, he takes himself Very Seriously.

Three, he’s like 5’1″, but he doesn’t appear to know that.

I don’t know how well the schtick is working out for Danzig these days, but Glenn here is on top of the world. If he’d been hatched just a little earlier or was just a little bigger, I suspect he’d be head rooster.

He has his pick of the ladies. It takes him a while and he falls off sometimes, but he never lets that deter him.

This is our black bantam hen, Raven, and when all the feathers are done flying, they’re pretty sweet on each other, I think.

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I took a little video so you could see them scratching around and having a dirt bath and making noise, but WordPress wants money to let me upload a video. I’ll see if Facebook will let me upload it.

ETA: It did. You can see it here at Facebook.


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Meanwhile, here are some of the others scratching around the perimeter of one of the garden beds:

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