At the beginning of my internet hiatus, which began in April, I got a batch of baby chickens. As they got bigger and we moved them to the hen house....I got more chicks. At one point my tally was this: 27 chickens, 8 turkeys (they were supposed to be guineas, but the store was wrong), 15 guineas. All of my poultry was thriving by the end of June, although a snake knocked off a couple. Jason killed the snake with an ax and the poultry murders temporarily ceased.
One evening, at the end of July, I went to close up my chickens in the hen house. The the chickens were everywhere and didn't want to go in the hen house. I noticed a few were missing and I was certain that coyotes had come into the hen house while the door was open, snagged a few, and ran off. There was poultry everywhere! They were trying to roost on top of the garage, on top of the house, in the trees. One desperate hen even climbed on Barrett's stroller while he was in it! Barrett had been desperate to touch a chicken, so he didn't mind. Jason was out of town, so there was no way I was going to get them all inside without help. I called him and he said just to let them roost anywhere until he could get home the next day.
The next evening the chickens were still boycotting the hen house, but we forced them all in. We were sure that they were safe as long as the door was shut. I still get a knot in my stomach when I think of that evening. The next day I opened the hen house door to the most horrific site. There was feathers everywhere, disembodied feet, pieces of my feathered babies strewn about. A handful of chickens and a lone turkey stood at the door. You could hear my sobs for miles. I had locked my babies in a death chamber! I cried all day.
Eventually I mustered the courage to go check on the remaining birds, which were far from the hen house under a tree. My new tally would be 9 chickens, and 1 turkey (the guineas were still babies so they were housed elsewhere). Hank, my glorious red rooster was gone as were most of the other roosters. Hank had been the leader, though. One rooster remained, Antonio, a "fancy" bantam rooster with dramatic contrasting black and white feathers. Antonio had earned his name because he was always hanging out with hens that were three times his size. To me he seemed the Latin lover type, so I called him Antonio like Antonio Banderas.
In the days and weeks that followed a war was waged.We determined that raccoons had broken into the hen house.Chickens were moved to the barn while Jason reinforced the hen house with barn tin, we set traps for the perpetrators, which were caught and brought to justice. Raccoons are a formidable enemy in that they are smart, have opposing digits, and are very greedy.
Meanwhile Antonio had made himself the new pack leader. He called all of the other birds and told them where to go, he watched the horizon for danger, he announced when I was coming with food. Antonio was and is a very savvy rooster, despite the fact that he is small. Of all the tragedy involving the poultry, Antonio is the true winner in a Darwinian sense. He is an ornery little thing and has been known to attack my husband while his back is turned. I secretly find these attacks hilarious. Jason threatens to fry him on a bi-weekly basis. The little S.O.B. is a survivor, the chicken Napoleon. I'm damn proud of him and am Glad that he is now THE ROOSTER.