What I’ve Learned From Raising Chickens

For about two years I’ve been hearing my unusually big rooster crow, often hours before sunrise. I feed him well, look after him and enjoy his company, but after an unsuccessful year of raising chicken, thoughts of silencing him have crossed my mind. This year, I had a new plan and, once again, had put my hopes into this massive rooster.

For this season, my kind neighbour Allan had given me seven six-week-old chicken. Two turned out to be male, and ended eventually up on the dinner table (What I’ve Learned From Killing Chicken), and so there were five hens and one big rooster.

Where Is The Support For Polygamy?

They say, so I hear, a rooster requires eight hens. As a supporter of equal rights and personal freedom, I have been asking (mostly myself) this question: In the light of a strong and needed social shift towards general acceptance of LGBT Rights (Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Transgender) in some parts of the world in the past years, Why Don’t I Hear About Demonstrations & Petitions For Polygamy?

In other words, when we can accept two guys getting married, why shouldn’t we accept a consensual marriage between a woman and three men? Think about it, but let’s get back to the topic of discussion.

Laying & Broody Hens

To start off, the five hens and rooster were free-ranging. I fed them only in the ample-sized and sun-drenched chicken coop, but left the door open. I noticed that the hens never slept in the chicken coop but had built themselves nests in panga ferns. Yes, they were sleeping in the canopy of trees…

When it got a bit warmer and the hens bigger, I wanted to know if they are laying or not. So, I enclosed them in the chicken coop. One of the hens managed to escape daily. Every morning she was back at the gate and went inside the coop for a feed, but managed to escape after wards.

To my surprise, there were plenty of eggs days after closing the coop. I was a happy chap, eating fresh eggs. Then two of he hens went broody (or as they say here clucky) and sat for most of the day on the eggs. I kept eating eggs to check whether they were fertile or not.

The first time I noticed sperm in the egg, I stopped collecting them and was again a happy chap. Surely, the gods are mild with Ben this year, two hens are broody and the eggs are fertile.

It got even better than this, the hens swapped places. When one of the broody ones eventually got up to eat, another sat on the eggs. I thought it couldn’t get any better!

The Signs Are Right, What Could Go Wrong?

I don’t know why, but all the hens, broody or not, stopped laying eggs about two weeks ago. Moreover, the hen that managed to get out of the coop every day didn’t show up any more. When I hadn’t seen it for 10 days, I assumed she is lost, gone or dead.

Well, it got even worse. I saw a broody hen get up one morning and noticed that the eight eggs she was sitting on for weeks had disappeared. To my amazement, another hen immediately went to sit on the same spot?!…?. WTF?

You see how things change quickly. I had four eggs a day for a couple weeks, then zero eggs, but two broody hens. Then I noticed that at least one is trying in vain, as she is sitting only on dirt. I didn’t even want to check the other broody hen. It ain’t gonna work this year, again!

Nature Knows More & Better Than You

A few days ago, I noticed the escape artist back at the coop. The hen was unusually energetic though. No matter what she was doing, she did it quickly. Of course she disappeared again, but only for the night. The next morning I hear some strange noise close to me, it was six in the morning, I kept looking but couldn’t identify where the noise was coming from.

Well, it turned out that the escape artist hen was half a meter next to where I was standing. She didn’t move, wasn’t in any rush and I realised the opportunity. The plan was to net it, cut off wing feathers so she can’t fly out of the coop any more.

The first emotion after netting the hen was of disbelieving surprise, ten hatched chicks warming up underneath their mother. The second emotion was of feeling utterly dumbfounded. How naive and stupid can I be? The hen was making strange noises and looked almost twice the size she was.

The take-home message is quite amusing, slightly embarrassing but something I shall not forget: The hen that got the job done was the only one I had no control over.

Ten chicks and their mother are still free-ranging.
Ten chicks and their mother are still free-ranging.
They started off being shy but now I have to watch not to step on a chick.
They started off being shy but now I have to watch not to step on a chick.

I’m A Happy Chap Again

The chicks and mother are well accustomed to me now and await eagerly every morning their special feed. In order to give them the best survival chances, I decided to feed them with regular chicken food soaked in water. This morning, while soaking their food, one of the chicks jumped onto my foot, and they kept crossing my path until they got their food. The black chicks are especially difficult to see in low light in the morning, so I need to walk carefully…

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