I’ve written more than once about our rooster, Albert, who has been intent on trying to kill me, his fellow hens, and even our dogs as they wandered the yard. Albert arrived free with our shipment of hens last year. Once he was here, it seemed that he was the only one who was “free”; the rest of us became enslaved to this pint-sized tyrant who ruled his kingdom — the coop, the chicken yard, and eventually our lawn — with an iron claw. Given half a chance, he would fly spurs-first into the face of any challenger, sending even my fiercest dog (Lisa) running for the safety of the house.
Each of our lambs is given three chances at birth. I know that it takes time to figure out how the world works, so I am willing to overlook three serious transgressions. I gave Albert the same benefit (and then some) and spent months trying to tame the little guy. I tried distraction with sprinkled grains, and I tried to chase him off with a squirt gun (escalating to the super-soaker variety!). Then I switched to a broom and dustpan in an attempt to simply sweep him out of my way. I danced the chicken dance with him (see the 4/29/2016 blog), and then I learned how to distract him and hide myself.
When Albert was given numerous chances to improve and yet was still trying to gouge my eyes out and impale me with his spurs, the solution was obvious. I am the queen of not only the sheep flock but of Peeper Hollow Farm — period. It’s my responsibility to safeguard all of our creatures, large and small — myself, included. I must consider the young children who visit and want to collect eggs. And our dogs, who consider our lawn their own. And my harassed hens.
By last week it was obvious that Albert had overstayed his welcome. And although I tried to send him off to feed the neighborhood foxes, they obviously wanted nothing to do with this vicious bird. He came back the next day and flew over the fence into the chicken yard — after terrorizing the dogs and me first! I tried this tactic three or four times, and he returned as a worse terror after each attempt.
I finally put in a call to my good friend, Josh, who had about a hundred meat chickens on their way to processing last Friday. He called to ask if he could borrow our trailer to move the birds to the processor. As terrible as I felt about it for Albert, I asked Josh if he would be willing to take Albert when he came by to pick up the trailer. By Friday afternoon, Albert was in our freezer as a fryer ready for the stew pot — a scrawny bird who seemed very far from the wicked creature he had been only hours before.
The chicken yard is now peaceful, and it shows in the behavior of the hens. It took them a couple of days to get used to the fact that Albert was indeed gone, but they have now relaxed. No longer do they run in fear when I scatter the scratch grains each morning (which is when Albert used to attack the hens), and no longer do I hear hens squawking and see feathers flying as Albert has his way with one of his girls. I can come and go from the henhouse without any trepidation. The battles have ended and I’m no longer at war! Once again, peace reigns in the chicken yard.