The Much Maligned Rooster

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Roosters get bad press.  One of the reasons why I started writing “Chooks” was the surprising number of questions I got about chicken ownership in the suburbs and particularly how I managed to keep them without getting in trouble for the crowing.  I didn’t have roosters when I lived in the suburbs, because it isn’t necessary to have a rooster in order to get eggs.  This fact surprises people still.

However roosters aren’t necessarily the pests everyone thinks they are: they certainly come with a pros and cons list.  Roosters fertilise eggs. They keep order in their flock and protect their harem (whether the girls need it or not) even when they look unbelievably silly whilst doing so.  They are the epitome of masculinity.

There are some people in the suburbs that appreciate the role roosters play and they keep them quite successfully: their neighbors may be more forgiving of the crowing, some people make the effort of catching their roosters (lets face it they are generally pets anyway and quite tame) every night and locking them in a shed or smaller cage inside so their crowing is muffled or muted.  I’ve also heard it said that roosters have to stretch their heads and necks out to crow, so putting the rooster into a cat crate makes it tricky and puts them off – I don’t know how kind that is – why bother keeping the rooster at all if you have to go to so much trouble to stop him doing what comes habitually and naturally?

Sadly, it’s not just the suburbs where people get cranky…some years ago there was a neighbor dispute nearby…the one family made a complaint to council about their next-door neighbors’ rooster being too noisy…but each family lived on 5 acre blocks!  Council sent a guy out to take readings but the readings came to naught because the complainants dogs barked so much, the council couldn’t get any reading on the wicked rooster at all. C’est la vie.

Sadly, the biggest reason why chickens are illegal in some townships is because of the perceived noise they make.  As for me – a rooster crow can enter my awareness in the morning, but it doesn’t wake me- it reassures me.  If I don’t hear the rooster I know something is terribly wrong; past experience would tell me it’s probably a fox.  In fact that is one of the reasons I don’t sleep well at other people’s houses (and go right out of my way to drive home after a night out, so that I can sleep in my own bed) – the lack of a rooster crowing wakes me too early!

So here is a little Pros/Cons List:

ROOSTER KEEPING CONS

Roosters crow.

Roosters can get a bit overenthusiastic (or even downright aggressive) with their testosterone and their perception of what is a threat to their girls.  As Ruby Thewes says “I despise a flogging rooster”…and there is no reason to keep one.

Having said that, my Araucana bantam rooster who is a real sweetie, has had a go at both my son and my husband.  He left a spur in my boy’s leg, that worked it’s way out fascinatingly disgustingly, three weeks later…  BUT…the reason (I believe he did that) was because I was away both times and both times the boys had not noticed that over the weekend the chooks’ water had dried up.  I think it was the only way he had to tell them that a third day without water was NOT acceptable.  Bless.

In my experience, if you have a young rooster who decides to try and be the boss, you need to remind him that you are in charge and the best way is NOT kicking or throwing things at him, but by humiliating him by catching and cuddling him until he coos despite himself.  If it continues to be a battle of the wills, he needs to go.

ROOSTER KEEPING PROS

Roosters will fertilize eggs which creates a perpetual flock.

A rooster’s whole reason for life is to protect his girls.  To that end we had a much loved Silky rooster who broke his neck protecting his hens.

Roosters sort out the in-house fighting and maintain peace in the flock.  Their silly strutting and bossiness makes the hens fall about laughing and breaks the tension, I reckon.

Roosters are a perfect country wake-up call.

Living in the country now, I could not be without a rooster to preserve my sense that there is another set of eyes out there looking over things and letting me know that all is right in our world as the day starts, even while I still snooze.

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Autumn Garden

First off – Simon took these photos; photography and the love of it has re-entered his life, so if you see any fantastic photos on any of my social media you can rest assured HE took them.  BUT…and it’s a big but (they’re the best kind) quite often the photos of his that I feature only came to happen because I said:  “that tree outside is so beautiful, you should take a photo of it” or “Could you help me with the ducks for a minute – oh, and why don’t you bring your camera?”.

Simon is an inside kind of guy…a gadget guy, an Apple man.  Not that he doesn’t appreciate the outdoors or where we live – he totally does, and he gets the shock of his life when he gets outside and notices there’s been a season change, he is simply wired differently to me.

So with our tree turning ruby – autumn came.  And then a week later, winter came.  No joke.  Frosts so hard and white even the She-oaks on the fence line were white.  And as a result, I had to pick the rogue pumpkins.

Can you believe Simon was genuinely confused when I asked him to photograph this?  When I look at this picture, or indeed the real thing (which still sits on the front verandah on my favorite chair enjoying the sun) I feel comforted and prepared, happy and (somewhat) fulfilled.  We won’t starve.  When he looks at it he sees dirt, cobwebs and a future of wrist aching pumpkin chopping ‘cos that’s the man job around here.

I’ve just picked one more hidden pumpkin, revealed by a frost melted rogue tomato bush – and now I have a large black plastic tree pot full of a rainbow of tomatoes – the last of the season, so now I’m practically giggling.  And did you know that the duck egg season picks up when the hens laying dies down?  It’s true.  So I have duck eggs, tomatoes and pumpkins.  I am absolutely beside myself.

Now, what on earth am I going to do with them all?

Luck!

Chooks in the City

A year ago, a lovely lady from the ACT Open Garden Scheme asked if I would be interested in running a workshop for people wanting to start chooks in their city gardens, and I said ‘Sure’.

I’m a very easy-going person.

Now, it’s less than a month away – and I’m feeling less easy-going.

And I think my stomache has started to eat itself.

Then, yesterday I got two phonecalls about doing radio interviews, and I said ‘Sure’.

So, at 8.30am on Saturday I shall be speaking (I hope – not stuttering, or ummmmm-ing) to Graeme on ABC 666 and then at around 8am on Sunday I shall be interviewed on Radio 2cc.

I have to remember the details for the Open Garden Scheme, I have to remember what I wrote in my book (it’s only 6 years after I wrote the bloody thing but you know me…), I have to remember my name and not to swear or yell at the kids while I’m talking on the phone.  That is going to be hard – old habits and all that.

So, if you could send me a little luck and a mental slap on the back, or even some anti-nausea tablets, I would greatly appreciate it.

 

 

EDIT 18/2/2011:  Anyone on Facebook can find the ‘Chooks in the City’ page for queries or general chook-yack!  I love to hear your stories!