Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer, Country Style

This morning Derek and I raked out the chicken run while Ian mowed and bagged some fresh grass clippings for them. I figure if we have to mow the lawn, we may as well feed the grass to the chickens. The chickens found a lot of grain they had missed when we removed the old clippings and what-not. Then they enjoyed the fresh grass clippings when we were done. The old clippings are now sitting in a pile next to the berry bushes where I can apply them as mulch.

While the boys worked on removing some Virginia Creeper vines from the spruce trees in the back yard, I hopped in the truck and drove to Tri-County Tire where I picked up two truck tire inner tubes for the pond. When I was growing up we had inner tubes to play with in the pond and I remember I had a lot of fun with them. They're a lot more durable than the cheap inflatable ones they sell for pools. If you've got boys, you need tractor/trailor strength inner tubes! They will last for several seasons.

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After dinner, I sat in the chicken run, determined to get videos of crowing roosters. (Well, actually they're cockerels since they're under a year old.) Anyway, I captured the three top roosters crowing! It's interesting to note that Silver, the Silver-Spangled Hamburg, has a higher-pitched four-part crow while the Australorp (Achilles) has a three-part crow and the Barred Rock (Roo) has a two-part crow. Achilles has the deepest voice too. Here's Silver and Achilles announcing their virility. Derek swears he saw Rudy crow for the first time this morning. He doesn't seem interested in the video though.

Roo's got somethin' to say too. (And so does goofy Derek in the background!)

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I wonder why roosters crow. Though some claim to know why, do we really know? I think it has something to do with flock cohesion as well as a show of strength and vitality. Roosters, in general, do not crow all day long. I notice them crowing in the morning, at noon, in early afternoon and again in the early evening. I keep looking for an event that sets it off but nothing seems apparent. Even roosters that don't have to compete with others within a flock will still crow, so it must have some significance for the entire flock. What do you think?

Another interesting behavior roosters exhibit is the "tough guy" posturing. They strut right up next to each other, close enough to brush feathers with their opponent. They raise their outer wing and stand straight and tall trying to look as big as possible. If the other bird yields, all is well. If not, they're bound to spar. Achilles does this sideways "tough guy" dance to me regularly, but I'm onto him. I know that this can be the beginning of aggression if I don't keep him in check. If he gets too close or too uppity, I raise my hand above him and he stops with a submissive look on his face. If I can do so without causing a commotion, I'll reach out and pick him up, cradling him like a football. He settles right in and lets me stroke his back and scratch under his chin. He doesn't mind much if I fiddle with his comb either. I keep my eye on him when I'm around him and I've warned the boys to do the same. Roosters don't know they're birds. In their minds, they're bulls!

12 comments:

  1. Love the videos, Amy! I especially love the part where Achilles just lays down after he crows, then gets up to do it again!! LOL
    My roosters crow when someone comes up the driveway or you walk up the hill toward the coop... almost like a watchdog would bark when it saw something out of the ordinary or something moving around. I think a lot of the crowing comes from them wanting to establish territory too, because mine will crow if another rooster is out and comes close to their hens.

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  2. Amy, loved the crowing videos! Henry has a 2-part crow. He seems to only exhibit his rooster behavior with Henrietta, the other SLW. Wonder why that is? He is very bossy with her.

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  3. At the risk of repeating what's already been said: *love* the videos! Your boys look like they're having so much fun...how cool to have a pond on your property.
    I love the way Achilles plops down in the middle of the video. So cute!

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  4. I wish we could swim in one of our ponds but its too murky hence the pool. Was that a man made pond?
    Love your crowing roosters, we only have 1. I am not sure if I was dreaming or not but I thought I heard him crow at 12:30 last night. The earliest I am for sure I heard him was 3:50 the other morning. I am sure the neighbors were impressed with us. ~Kim

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  5. Paula, I think Achilles was pooped after a day of foraging! He had to take a break between crows. I heard him announce the mail carrier today as she drove up the driveway to give me a package, so you must be onto something with your theory!

    Susan, you know, I think the different breeds know they're different from each other. I just read an article last night that said chickens can identify up to 100 other chickens. They tell each other apart by their faces. Neat huh?

    Danni, thank you. Do you think Roopert is louder than Roo? Maybe we should have a "crow-off" and find out who puts out the most decibels?

    Kim, the pond was dug when I was a kid. The dirt that came out of it is now the hill you see on the other side. It's one of the few things I can remember from my childhood. Fortunately, our neighbors were farm-raised and they don't care about crowing roosters. I'm so glad to live where everyone can raise livestock and not have to put up with neighbors who don't like it.

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  6. Amy, I couldn't stop laughing while watching the roosters. We live in city limits therefore we had to give our roosters to someone in the country, but I did keep the hens. I sooo enjoyed them crowing! There is something so earthy about it. Your pond is wonderful. What a great place to play. I want to run off that dock and jump in with the kids. I LOVE your blog!!!

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  7. I have six cockerels and five of them are crowing. One will start and the others will join in. Normally they stretch their necks oout and stand still and crow, but Khan, one of my Cuckoo Marans, likes to walk around while crowing. That looks a little odd!

    Mine start crowing just about every time I come into the barn. They hear me upstairs and they'll start singing. Sometimes I will be nowhere near the coop, but I'll be whistling and that gets them crowing. It almost feels like they want me to come and hang out with them.

    I'll have to do some crowing videos, your roosters are adorable!

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  8. Mandie, thanks for your comments. I like hearing the roosters crow in the background but I am glad they don't do it all day long like some of the more exotic breeds do. Yes, come have a jump in the pond!

    Don, you have as many as I do. It is funny when they start crowing all at once. Then we've really got some noise!

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  9. We've got to get some of those inner tubes one of these days... they look like a blast!

    My 28.8 kbps connection won't do the videos, but I enjoy your commentary. :)

    Ron

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  10. Amy, I slept outside last night, in a little single tent. I thought I'd sleep until I heard the roosters, but I ended up going inside the house before the sun came up and the chickens were still quiet.

    I love seeing your chicken videos! Still shots just don't capture the character of these ladies and gents. And very good idea about the inner tubes. I almost forgot about those! Wow, childhood memories flood back.

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  11. Little blog fun...I've been tagged so I have passed it along to you to share 6 random things about yourself, see my blog for more details if you want to participate, don't feel that you have to. Have a great week ~Kim

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  12. Amy, hoorray for black inner tubes! That's all we used when I was young also. Your boys look to be having the time of their lives. What a treasure you have given them! As for the roosters, thanks for this peek at farm life. Sure is fun to watch, though I'm not sure I'd want them to wake me up every morning at 5 a.m. (or earlier!)

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