Friday, December 9, 2005

Hens and Roosters

The second animal we acquired after we moved to the farm were chickens (right after bees!). I don't think I had ever been close to a chicken before. I had heard awful tales from my Mom about how mean they were and how they pecked people...none of which applies to our birds...well, there was that one rooster. I was fascinated with them. I still am. I love the gentle clucking sounds they make while foraging, while talking to their young and just generally when they are contented! And I love the eggs!

We name our favorite chickens. Millie is my favorite chicken. She looks like a Dalmation dog. I have no idea what she is...she may have been a freebie from the hatchery or she may have been hatched by some of our banty hens. She is covered with perfectly round, black spots. She is conversing here with one of our Buff Orpingtons. We like Buffs. They are gentle, they haven't had the nesting instinct bred out of them (yes they do that!) and they make good mothers. This point is especially important since we have 8 cats!

Sometimes I just enjoy sitting under the Katawba tree in the spring and watching the hens in their sociable groups clucking away while scratching and pecking. They must be discussing something important...then someone makes a snide remark and she is chased out of the circle....she will walk around grumbling a bit and then return to the group with a much humbler attitude! I wonder if God created chickens not just to supply some of our needs for food, but to remind us of ourselves and how we tend to walk too much in pride!

We have brown egg layers, white egg layers and blue/green egg layers. Some of our customers only want white eggs, some want brown eggs, and some don't care. We have one customer that refuses to take a blue/green egg! Her reason...."it just looks too much like a bird egg!" Excuse me?! My youngest boy loves the blue/green eggs. This probably has something to do with his current delight in some of the Dr. Seuss books.....remember Green Eggs and Ham? He has begged me to make green ham....just can't force myself to add a food dye (chemical!) to good ham!

Then there are roosters! Our first rooster was a Rhode Island Red. He was one MEAN rooster with attitude. The day he went after my youngest, who was 2 at the time, became the day that he was turned into chicken soup. Thankfully Elijah had his back to him so that his spurs only damaged his coat. Chicken soup is delicious! We have never had another mean rooster. Maybe the story is passed down in our flock of birds so that every one behaves themselves! Auracana roosters are very gentle and the kids can easily pick them up to pet them.

We have a rooster right now who is beautiful. We aren't sure where he came from. We do incubate our own eggs from time to time and assume we hatched him. I take great pleasure in watching him strut about. I am not sure why he brings me joy....the beauty of God's creation? The glory of his colors? He looks like the ideal farm rooster. His body is covered in bright gold feathers and his tail is composed of a thick plume of green/black shimmering feathers. Thankfully he does not know how beautiful he least not yet. He is young and rather timid but he brings me pleasure as he struts around outside my kitchen window....who knew doing dishes would become enjoyable! The boys have named him Dapper Dan.

We have learned there is much benefit to being stewards of God's creation. We knew there would be benefits in the way of food, we never dreamed how it would touch us spiritually and practically. My boys have learned to be hard workers, to be responsible and to take great joy and satisfaction in tending the animals. It is a sobering thought to know that their lives depend on you doing your job correctly and on time. I thank God for giving my children the ability to experience life here on our farm and to learn the many lessons His creation gives us each day.


  1. We also had a mean Rhode Island Red rooster who ended up dead after going after our son. No one missed the rooster when he was gone (although I did miss the crowing!)

    We haven't had a rooster since, but will probably get one or more this spring; we are hoping to start "growing our own" with this next batch from the hatchery.

    So glad to hear good things about Buffs; after reading the write-ups in the hatchery catalog, we had just about settled on Buffs, but recently read that they are not good--setters, I believe it was; either that or mothers? We also won't be able to see Buffs from the house as well as we can the black hens we have now, so that will take some fun out of life; they are incredibly entertaining.

    Almost have to get Auracanas (is that spelled right?), too, if only for the fun colors.

    Mary Susan

  2. Mary Susan,
    Not all of our Buffs will set - but so far they have been the only breed that does. The ones that do will make excellent Moms. I love to see the babies riding around on their backs!

    You can get Americaunas - often sold as Auracanas...they will lay a blue/green egg. I would love to find true Auracanas - they lay eggs in every color of the rainbow!

    Keeping a rooster will actualy help you to produce healthier eggs - the nutrition content will be much higher and I believe I read that the cholesterol content will be lower.

  3. Thanks for a great post. I love chickens as well. The older I get, the more I love those birds. There are few things more enjoyable than watching chickens forage and watching a mother hen with her chicks.

  4. Zachary has a speckled hen like that I think it is an Anacauna or something spelled like that.

  5. That's a Silver Spangled Hamburg hen---my favorite breed, though impossible to fence!

  6. RM,
    Thanks so much for letting us know! She must have been one of the "free" chicks that came with our order!

  7. I hope it is alright to leave a comment. Actually, I don't live in tennessee but came upon your site through Googling herbs. Am currently incubating some barred rock chicken eggs for meat and will be incubating some Silver Laced Wyandotte eggs later this summer for primarily laying. Already have a chicken coop and plenty of space (minus a 4-lane highway) for roaming, but still have a few questions on what to do. For instance, have you ever made your own starter chick feed, and are there detriments to feeding the chicks (low antibiotic high protein) feed. Could you give me any other suggestions or tips on chickens?
    Thank you,

  8. Have you ever heard about No Greater Joy ministries. They have a magazine, books on God,relationships,child raising,etc. and their daughter is an herbalist.

    Thought you might be interested.


Related Posts with Thumbnails