Friday, July 18, 2008

Frog Legs Anyone?

The rains in Ohio have finally subsided. However, the impact of the excessive rainfall is easily observed all around us. Alfalfa and corn fields have areas where the plants rotted to the roots. Instead of level corn fields we see undulating crops due to the low spots holding water and stunting plant growth. The wheat harvest is in full swing and it appears that little damage occurred to the wheat. It was finishing just as the rain began in June. The farmers simply had to wait for the ground to dry enough to harvest without getting their combines stuck in the fields.

We have an abundance of frogs this year. All one has to do to find them is walk in any grassy area. Young leopard frogs leap out of the way when we walk in the lawn at dusk. Tonight I saw one fall into the basement window well on the south side of the house. When I looked into the window well I could see it was filled with baby leopard frogs. I asked Jim to help me get them out. We checked all the window wells and filled the bottom of this ice cream pail with them, along with three crayfish. How many frogs can you count? Tomorrow I will feed them to the chickens for a protein boost. I watched one of the Buff Orpington pullets catch a little frog Tuesday morning and was amazed at the predatory instincts chickens have. It's a darn good thing we're bigger than them or they'd eat us for sure!

We went to the county fair this evening after enjoying a good meal at the Chinese restaurant in town. When I was a kid, the fair seemed much larger. I had goats and rabbits entered and I spent the entire week at the fairgrounds. I slept on a lawn chair next to my dairy goat, Nikki. I loved fair week!

We enjoyed looking at the 4-H chickens tonight. There were two equally impressive roosters; one a Rhode Island Red, the other a very large Black Australorp. Derek kept saying that he wanted to keep Achilles, one of two of our Black Australorp cockerels. I said "Don't get your hopes up." But after seeing that big shiny black Australorp with the huge bright red comb and wattles, I decided I've just got to see how that boy Achilles turns out! I told Derek we can keep Achilles with one stipulation: if he ever shows aggressive behavior toward any of us, he's dinner. This applies to all of the chickens though, so he accepted that. Achilles is already the tallest member of the flock. If he adds meat and feathers to that frame, he's going to be at least a 10 pound Australorp! He does something that none of the other roosters will do. When he finds food, he announces it and the pullets come running. He then lets them have first choice. I'd heard about this behavior but hadn't seen any of the roosters do it until this week. I wonder if the other roos will eventually do it.

While I'm on the subject of rooster behavior, I've made some observations about each one. (I have way too much time to sit and watch chickens on my days off!)

  • Roo - (Barred Rock) Appears to be the top bird in the flock. Crows very loudly and with gusto, "RRRR-RRRRRrrrrrrr" throaty three-part rhythm. Largest bird in the flock. In regards to food it's every chicken for himself. Gentle with the girls. Very hard to catch, hates to be held anymore. Vigilant of danger and announces any threats.
  • Silver - (Silver Spangled Hamburg) Appears to be second in command beneath Roo. Crow is higher pitched, clear, loud four part rhythm, "Cock-a-doodle-doo". Only rooster with a four-part crow. Gentle with the girls but keeps them in check. Friendly with us but wary of being approached. Seems to be concerned with flock cohesion and acts as lookout, sounds danger alert. Can be held on his terms. Shares food with the others but doesn't announce it.
  • Achilles - (Black Australorp) Vies for second in command with Silver. Firm with the girls but not vicious. Role is protector of the flock. Any bird in distress will make him come running to investigate the disturbance. Shows little fear of us and might have a tendency toward aggression if not reminded of who's the boss every day. Gorgeous, big, black cockerel with huge red comb and wattles. Can be picked up and held. Crow is throaty and deep "RRRRRR-RRRRRrrrrr", three part rhythm. Announces any food he finds and lets the girls have first pick.
  • Rudy - (Buff Orpington) Lowest in rooster pecking order. Very sweet natured and friendly. Likes some attention and will stand calmly while being petted on the breast. Very nice to the girls and us. Easily handled. Gorgeous, shiny golden rooster. Has not crowed yet. No clear role within the flock. Shares food with the others but doesn't announce it.

I have two more roosters but both are slated for butcher so I'm not making mental notes on them. It is interesting to see how each one has his own personality and how they interact with each other. Anyone who spends any amount of time with his birds can tell you about each one. It's a lot like watching children grow up but at a much faster pace. Tonight at the fair we saw a pen of chicks that must have been less than a week old. I said, "Remember when our chooks were tiny fuzz butts?" I can't believe how fast they grow.


  1. Wow! That's a lot of frogs!

    The county fair sounds like a blast. Ours is going on now, but I'm not sure we'll make it... they are charging exorbitant fees to get in. :(

    I love your description of the various roosters. Since we just have one Buff Orpington rooster, it's nice to hear about the other varieties' temperaments.


  2. Ron, the admission to the fair was $5 a person. It's a small fair, so the price is about right. I only went for the fair food and to look at the chooks!

    The Buff Orp girls have more 'tude than their rooster does! He really is a nice boy. I think this is a good breed to have around if you have children. The last thing you want is an aggressive rooster around kids, which I'm sure you've already considered. In their minds, they're bulls!

  3. Is it hard not to get "attached" to your birds and then have them for supper? That has always been a problem for me. I get attached too easily.
    Love your pics and your blog...thank you for your time & sharing with us.

  4. Sage, I find that the easiest way to not get attached is to designate which ones will be used for laying and which ones will be butchered at a young age. This can be done with colored leg bands. As long as you stick to your plan, it goes well. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by!

  5. What beautiful birds! I love the frogs photo. I can imagine the chickens going after them. I have only seen very small golden colored frogs around our place. Our little woodland pond seems to have some bullfrogs this year. (a first)


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