Caledonia Hills Farm LLC

  (Portage, Wisconsin)
For the Love of Chickens
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Second String Rooster

Whew! I think that about says it all. The sun is bright today in our part of the world, which does wonders for everyone's spirits. The dog (well, still a puppy) is getting lots of exercise these past few days. Jeff took a few days off of work to do something other than build chicken houses, mow hay and process chickens - his normal "vacations" from his job off the farm. Still, he has a list that never seems to end. There are lots of heavy objects that don't get lifted when I'm alone on the farm during the week. And a lot of electrical work and parking of tractors and implements in small spaces... as I said his list is long. The dog is happy to help, though, if you can call it that!

The hens are laying eggs like mad. Actually, the snow just covered up all of their outside nests so they are forced to comply with the rules and lay their eggs in the nest boxes that we collect from. Production magically increased by nearly 100% overnight!

We kept two roosters this year and so far there hasn't been much squabbling. Our second string rooster is peculiar, though. He has a particular affinity for one of the Wyandotte hens and spends most of his day "talking" to her, trying to coax her to follow him away from the group. This was humorous except when he started finding tight spots (like behind wood piles) to nestle down in and cluck to her in that manner that says "here's a good spot to lay an egg." Honestly, that's what he was doing. But, not being a hen, his choices were a little poor in my opinion. For instance, one spot he persistently chose was immediately outside the basement door. I could hear him throughout the day, digging a little hollow in the gravel, clucking and cooing, and kicking the metal door and frame repeatedly in the process. He wasn't deterred by people coming in and out of the house, or even me opening the door specifically to ask him what the corn he thought he was doing. With the snow he's given that up and the crew of birds hangs pretty close together now. That, of course, has made the wooing of his particular hen more challenging. So now, when he spots her coming out of the hen house or day house alone, he puffs up like a Tom turkey on display, wings extended by his sides, and waddles up to her (or is there a word that means "waddles fast"?). It's hilarious beyond words. Our number one rooster, who pretty much rules the roost, as they say, is not amused. But he's showing restraint, so far. We'll let you all know if the day comes when number one (or "Chief" as he's called around here) blows his top. For those of you who know us, you know our rooster last summer became a little... temperamental. We'll make sure to warn folks if we have a little ankle kicker at large this year!

Life is good, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, we have our precious housecat back from a long stay at the vet and he's doing great, and the dog actually found an egg outside in a brush pile, so maybe there's hope that there's a good dog in there yet.

 As always, Happy Eating!!

 Toby

Caledonia Hills Farm LLC


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