Saturday, March 03, 2012

Farewell Rodney

During last Wednesday's winter storm, our top rooster, Rodney uncharacteristically left the chicken yard. This was partly in thanks to the goats who ripped the fence between the two yards down enabling the chickens to escape through the goat yard.  I saw him walking around the outside of the barn when I left to drive the kids to hockey practice, but I figured he would just go back into the coop at nightfall.  Patrick would check to make sure he got in when he locked up the barn.  I came home shortly after, put dinner in the oven and then the phone rang.  It was the farmer across the road, calling me to say that one of my roosters was in his driveway and he wasn't looking good.  He kept saying, "He's a big one, really big one."  It could only be Rodney.  I threw on my boots and coat and ran across to bring him home.  He died moments before I got there, his body still warm.   The neighbour told me that he only noticed him sitting beside his market truck because he was taking a dog out and the dog went over to sniff him.  There was no sign of trauma.

He's the one with the yellow head looking at the camera.
If you want you can read about Rodney's beginnings. He grew into a very large and very docile Buff Brahma rooster.   When I first ordered our chicks from Performance Poultry, I asked the owner to help me choose a flock.  I told him that I was open to suggestion.  I asked him for a good rooster for protection that would also be good with children.  He recommended a Brahma, and he had a Buff Brahma chick.  Rodney was everything that had been promised.  He was BIG and protective, puffing his chest out and standing between his girls and any threats, but he was also very docile around humans.  I've had several roosters in the past 4 years of chicken-ownership, some have been demon-birds, but Rodney (and his son Sandy) have been by far the most gentle.  And I loved the way he managed the flock, he used gentle persuasion.  He set the tone for my flock, and I've had no problems with them accepting new birds as long as I keep them in a dog crate in the coop for a week or two.  He was father of many a hatchling.

Here's a story I've been fascinated by, and have wanted to share for a few weeks now.  One mild day in January, we let the flock out to free-range.  Damon's task was to put them back in the coop.  At about midnight, I tried to lay down to go to sleep, but realized that the roosters were crowing.  I got Damon and we went out to see what was going on.  Rodney was standing out in the middle of the chicken yard crowing repeatedly, inside the coop Sandy was responding.  Damon wanted to scare Rodney back into the coop, but he was not moving or stopping his calls.  I looked inside the coop and saw that the rest of the flock (including my 2 Ameraucana roosters, Snowman and Baby Gigi) were sleeping on their roosts.  As I closed the coop door, I saw that wedged into the corner next to the door was a sleepy Chantecler hen who had obviously missed out when Damon put the rest of them away.  This was the cause of so much concern to Rodney and Sandy.  Kind of like a "no hen left behind" policy.  I scooped her up, put her into the coop and went inside.  Not another peep out of them.  I was very impressed that even though the hen did not seem to be aware of the danger she was in, Rodney and Sandy were.

We will miss you, Rodney, the "rotteny" rooster.

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