Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mother's Instinct

He was spending his days outside in the freezing cold. When he had the chance, and he thought it was safe, he would hide in the small, three-sided shelter in the chicken run. Trying to stay as far away from his son, JB, as possible was hard to do considering he only has one eye. Old One-Eyed Calico Jack can't even rely on peripheral vision. A chicken's eye is on the side of its head, not the front like a human. So poor Old Jack has to continually turn his body to see what is around him. After the coup in the coop, when he lost his position as king of the roost, he basically spent three very paranoid days spinning in circles.

Despite his protests, I couldn't just leave him outside at night. He had to go inside. So I would chase him all around the run until he finally conceded and ran into the coop heading straight for the nest box where Precious was brooding her clutch of eggs. It's a small box; I can't imagine she was very happy about sharing it. But it did provide the safe haven Jack desperately needed. You see, JB seemed to have swollen up with testosterone after his hostile takeover. Any time he would see Jack he would try to chase him off, or worse, beat him up.

The second night, when I chased Jack in, he ran up the plank and into the coop. The minute I shut the door behind him, I heard an awful racket. JB had been laying-in-wait just inside the door. I bolted out of the run and around to the human entrance in time to scare the daylights out of JB. I was furious. I didn't care if it was nature’s way or not. His behavior was the equivalent of the school bully picking on the special needs kid. MY special needs kid. And I was going to have none of that. I wanted to string him up right then and there, but I counted to ten and then calmly explained what happens to bad roosters around here and told him he had twenty-four hours to get his act together. Or else.

Meanwhile, Jack had gotten cozy with Precious in the nest box again. The following day, I moved the expectant mother and her nest to the back porch where she could hatch her babies in peace. Jack spent his day outside again. He would peck and cluck and try to get the ladies to come out and join him, but they wouldn't do it. If he got too close to the coop, JB would come out and chase him away. That night, when it was time for all the animals to turn in for the night, Old Jack was still outside. When I raised my arms to signal it was time to go inside, he just sat down, letting me reach down and pick him up. I think he was saying, "I give up. I can't do it anymore. Please don't make me go back in there."

As badly as I felt for Precious, I just couldn't put Jack back in the coop. Instead, he joined her on the porch. He ate like a pig and then slept like a log. Even though the brooder is the size of a large coffin, he insisted on sleeping in the shoebox-size nest with her. I think he just needed to snuggle.

Now, after a good night's sleep, he's king again. King of the box instead of king of the roost, but that's okay with Jack. It's his box and that's all that matters. And to top it off, he's not only king, he's also a proud poppa. A chick hatched sometime last night and today they are one big happy family.

I wanted to get a nice photo for the baby announcement, but Precious is having no part of that. I don't blame her. A mother's instinct is the most powerful force on earth. If she wants to protect her baby, I'm sure not going to argue with her.


thecrazysheeplady said...

Awww - what a PERFECT ending to a potentially sad story.

~Tonia said...

Ahhh Poor Jack! I am glad you let them on the back porch!! My middle girl loved the coloring on the hen and wanted to know what kind she was??

Christine said...

Hi Tonia,

Isn't she gorgeous? She's a bantam Easter Egger.

Dianne MacDonald said...

Thank goodness you are so soft-hearted! You've turned Jack's nightmare into a fairy tale with a happy ending!

deborah said...

I'm so glad old Jack has a caring momma (you!) I was really worried about him and he looks so happy on the back porch now. He is one handsome rooster:)

GardenofDaisies said...

Thanks you for having a kind heart and not letting nature take brutal course. Poor old Jack.
Will rooster JB be able to tell that the chicks are not his when you re-introduce Precious and her baby chicks to the flock?

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

your photos are absolutely lovely well taken

~Kim~ said...

I'm glad Jack has still got friends, old and new! :-)

kristindewey said...

I ran across your blog from a neighbor's of ours that has a blog as well--Claire Boyles of Boyles Family Farm near Gill, Colorado.

I just wanted to tell you that this story was absolutely awesome! I live on a farm as well--one that has been in our family for 100 years this year near Gill, CO. We used to have chickens years ago, and would love to have them now. However, I just can't get our dogs, let alone the coyotes, racoons, and foxes to leave them alone--even fenced up. Plus, I'm not too crazy about butchering chickens since when I was a younger girl, one of the vivid memories I have was of all of us in the yard on a hot July day, processing chickens. Ughh.

We used to have a Rhode Island Red rooster that was as ornery and mean as your JB. We had to carry a broom or shovel every time we wanted to walk by the coop because he would chase us across the yard. He didn't last long after that.
Keep up the good work!
Your stories are very interesting!

Stevie said...

Coop politics can be so draining! It is so difficult to see the pecking order in place---goes against everything we were taught in life. I am constantly finding homes for kinder, gentler roosters that I spend way too much time protecting when they should be on the butcher block! www.ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

Jody said...

you and your kind heart has warmed mine!!!! Thanks so much for allowing that old rooster his moment in the sun w/o being bullied!