The Bantam who came to roost

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April 10, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Vera Videnovich

Several of my city friends are keeping poultry as pets and our small flock on the farm may be pets as well. When there’s only 10 of them it’s a little hard to decide who gets to, um, stay.

The chickens belong to my brother. He bought them as chicks a few years ago when he noticed store-bought eggs were a bit “weak” and were missing the flavor he was used to from the hens we (I) kept growing up. At one point I kept 40 chickens but it was a struggle keeping them safe.

Our farm buildings are set back on the property in a small wooded area. Pretty? Yes. But with all those trees come raccoons, opossums, and other vermin. Nature may be pretty until you try to keep a few chickens or try farming. We lost that entire flock of chickens to a large population of raccoons. Our crumbling coop was destroyed by those raccoon hands. Yes, “hands.” They grabbed onto the siding and pulled apart the aging structure and feasted. My poor hens. I miss them. They would walk freely around the property, clucking, scratching, and trying to get into my flower beds. They would even eat corn from the palm of my hand with no fear. I tried my best to keep them safe by locking them in the coop at night. Hard to do when they were afraid to go in at night and ended up sleeping in the apple trees.

The coop was repaired, somewhat, a few years ago. The wooden paneling has been covered with tin sheeting from a giant field of recycled materials (aka the junk pile). A new pen has been enclosed and sturdy doors built. My brother then went to the feed mill and bought some baby chicks
and raised them in a cardboard box in the shop (he’s a mechanic) until they were large enough to transfer to the coop.

There are now 9 hens. Barred Rock and Rhode Island Reds. They’re big girls and stay in the pen 24/7 for safety. We lock them in the coop at night and some mornings during the summer I have to rush out of the enclosed pen to save my flip-flopped exposed toes from curious beaks. To farm animals anything can look like food and must be tested.

A replacement Barred Rock rooster was added last fall. Those are the pretty grey and white-flecked birds. He’s a big guy and loves strutting around and crows every once in a while. It’s a myth that they only crow in the morning.

* * *

So we’ve managed to protect our birds from predators but others haven’t been so lucky.

On a recent trip back from Chicago I opened my car door and heard some squeaky crowing. Wondering what was wrong with the rooster I started walking to the pen. . . and saw this guy

The new guy

The new guy

Apparently a neighbor lost all her pet chickens to an overnight raccoon attack and this guy survived. He’s a Bantam rooster which is basically a mini chicken. He spends a LOT of time crowing, even at night. This is why he was given to us. Our friend is a light sleeper. As a pet this rooster couldn’t be added to a stock pot.

Yes. He crows. A LOT. Every minute. Like clockwork.

I think part of the problem is, um, loneliness. He was put in the pen but being a small guy he was attacked by the Barred Rock rooster. . . and the hens. All the hens. He flew out of the pen and now spends his time walking around, scratching for food or pebbles and crowing. I see him in the sheep pasture. Hanging out. Scratching the ground. Crowing. He’s quiet only if the farm is quiet, which isn’t often. Make any noise and he starts up again. I’m looking for two Bantam hens.

My main problem isn’t the noise, as I’ve got a lot on my mind this time of year and can block him out. He attacks me! Yes. This little guy, walks along side me for a while, acting friendly, and as soon as I’ve got my back to him he attacks my boots! No jokes, please. I’m looking for two Bantam hens. Seriously

* * *

This little Bantam rooster is a survivor. It’s been a few weeks and at first I thought he was surviving by flying atop the metal gas tanks. Lots of chicken poop along the side of the tank. But last night at dusk I saw his tactic. He flies OVER the fencing into the chicken pen. The coop door is already closed and locked so he flies into the mulberry tree and roosts there overnight. So good so far.

He does have to keep on his toes. On his way to the pen last night one of the younger barn cats saw him coming and the cat crouched down. You know, the cat “hunter” pose where they wiggle their butts before they attack? Well, little Mr. Rooster saw this and started to back away. . . sideways. . . with his eye on the cat. The cat sprinted after Mr. Rooster and he ran away squawking. Of course the cat gave up but did a little strut and whipped its tail back and forth. I think the cats are tired of the crowing, too.

Bantam Rooster

lonely Bantam rooster

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One Comment

  1. Bob says:

    Hi…We found a lonely bantam rooster walking down our quiet street in Dayton, TN who really followed us to our house and now roosts in a Bradford Pear tree in our front yard. What can I do to keep hin warm this winter, in this urbanized setting?

    He looks exactly like yours. (We have two fenced small dogs, two outside cats and one that visits every 3 – 5 days, deer and turkeys. )

    Thanks.

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