Thursday, January 31, 2013

Being a farmer ain't easy!

I love my chickens.  I'm probably a little too attached, lets be honest!  Martini, Layla, and EggBerta hold an extra special place in my heart since they are my first "flock" of hens, and we raised them in a refrigerator box in our spare bedroom from 3 days old.  So you could imagine my horror when Shelldon the rooster "mated" with Layla today, fiercely chasing her and biting her neck, ripping out feathers and leaving a huge bald spot on her.  It was quite traumatic - and I wasn't even there I just heard about it from Cameron.  I love all of the chickens differently but just yesterday I was remarking how Layla is the perfect image of a "Mother Hen".  She is (very) round, and pretty and just a simple creature.  She goes with the flow and grazes on the lawn and minds her own business.  She is friendly and kind.  The perfect target for Shelldon.
Yesterday, with a crop full of oatmeal!

 We planned on driving out to Estacada, OR to a chicken rehabilitation farm called Oregon Peeps next Tuesday.  Pete, the owner, also works at The Urban Farm Store where we got all of our chickens, but Cam and I thought it would be a fun day trip to drive Shelldon to the actual farm and see where he'd be spending his days.  I also wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to him because he's funny to have around, although lately becoming a nuisance with his crowing, and chasing the dogs, and overall "cocky" attitude.  I figured a few more days with him would be perfect.  But when Cam sent me a picture of LayLa after the "mate" and told me what had gone down I was angry!  I know that it's nature, but these are my baby girls!  He put LayLa in the coop and closed the door to the run because Shelldon was relentless and kept chasing her.  When I came home I barely said "hello" to the dogs and ran out to the run.  Her neck looked much better than it had in the picture, but she was definitely acting like she had been defeated.  That's the only way I can describe it.  I brought her in the house and let her drink some milk while I made her oatmeal and she kept making this sound that I had not heard any of the chickens make before.  It was a coo, very low and gentle, kind of..sad.  Cam recognized it too so I know that I wasn't being that crazy, and her fluffy chicken butt that I love so much was wet - almost like she sat in water.
Today after the "mate"
It seems as though the roosters crow got considerably louder today and he crowed at least 40 times throughout the day.  I hated seeing Layla the way she was and was concerned about what the next few days would be like.  I called Pete and arranged to drive Shelldon over to the Urban Farm Store and let him take Shelldon back to his farm tonight.  It was fun having him around, and we'll visit him on Tuesday as planned, but tonight nature was a little to rough for The Smith Farm!  Farewell Shelldon!  It was fun getting to know you, but from now on I think we'll just stick to hens!