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.