Thursday, September 24, 2009


Cold Antler farm's flock of thirteen laying hens is currently being watched over by two roosters. Here's the one I like, Winthrop. Named after the man who delivered the great sermon A Modell of Christian Charity—My rooster, like the venerable Plymouth puritan, is a pious guy watching over his own City on a Hill. He's huge, taller than my male goose. He's usually quiet and calm, but will on occasion let out a howl of a crow that sounds nothing like a normal rooster, thus his nickname, the wererooster.

Chuck Klosterman is the other one. He's an asshole. He is the only rooster I have ever raised that tries to hurt me. Only he isn't man enough to own that decision and actually try and spur me. He waits till I am walking away and then runs up to me, ready to attack. Then I whirl around and yell "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM, BIRD!" and he backs down because I'm 15 times his height. Then he struts away and runs off to bang a hen or chase Winthrop around. Sometimes I wish Winthrop realized he was twice the size of Chuck Klosterman. It's like watching an angry velociraptor stalk and bite an autistic T-Rex. Winthrop is in his own little world of wolf sounds and slug eating. He abhors violence, and so he runs away from Chuck like a 4-year-old girl.

I keep Chuck around because while he is a mean bird—he is watchful and protective of his girls. He's sly and tricky and treats the farm like his jailyard. A place he rules with an iron fist, but also protects with one. He may not be the kindest cock on the block, but he keeps the trains running on time. For that, I'll keep feeding him no matter how much he looks like a pot pie.


Blogger Jim said...

"It's like watching an angry velociraptor stalk and bite an autistic T-Rex. "

Poetry. Sheer poetry.

September 24, 2009 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger LilacCottageGoats said...

I think Winthrop is a very handsome rooster. I have acouple of pretty quiet roosters at the moment, But I have had some pretty mean ones in the past. They didn't just stop at wanting to flog me they did it. Needless to say they all ended up in my soup pot. I have 11 laying hens, 2 roosters, and to Mini Nubian goats here on my little homestead. I wouldn't want to live any other way. I love know where my meat, milk, and veggies all come from.

September 24, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Jenna--I don't understand what the actual pecking order is with poultry, however, my sister-in-law had a couple small hens--nothing big or impressive. But, if the ladies decided they wanted to eat out of the Rottweiler's or the pot-bellied pig's respective food or water bowls, all the rest of the animals ran for the hills, as fast as possible, I might add. Now, you can just picture in your mind how much bigger both the Rottweiler and the pig were than the hens, but somehow they pulled it off as queens of the hill. I had my own comeuppance from a really angry hen when I tried to carry her chicks around as a little child, she flew up in my hair and hung on pecking me as I ran screaming--my mother said the hen was flapping her wings and pecking me on the head and I was running away, but she stuck with me. My mother took the chicks from me and put them down and got the hen untangled from my hair and off my head. I don't need to say this, really, but to this day I have a healthy respect for the wrath of angry hens. Oh yes, and mean geese. I do love the picture your friend took of the geese headed home, though. Mimi

September 24, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

HOW TO TAME CRANKY ROOSTERS (AND GANDERS) - This is an old trick I read about using on geese and tried with my first nasty rooster. It worked and I've used it many times since on young roosters that decide to chase me or my old mom. It's really quite simple, but you must be BRAVE. When he next attacks, simply scoop him up. That's right pick him up. Then carry him around and coo and fuss over him like he's the most beautiful bird in the world for about 5 minutes. But be sure you do it in front of the hens and other roosters. This humiliates the bird and is guaranteed to keep him from attacking you for at least 2 weeks. I've only ever had to do this to a nasty boy 3 times. Then they give up with the attacks.

Now, you may be concerned about what the angry rooster might do to you while you're holding him, but I assure you, they won't try to bite you. Just be sure to keep a good grip on the feet and tuck them and those powerful wings under your arm like you'd carry a hen.

I promise, this works beautifully.

Good luck and be brave.

September 24, 2009 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Elsie said...

If you try Diana's suggestion, you MUST write about it!

September 24, 2009 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

This cracked me up! We have an asshole rooster too that we grit our teeth and put up with for the exact same reason. Ours doesn't have the good sense to quit or back down. We brought in a whole second mixed flock, though, and now he's so busy running them around that he's all but forgotten about us!

September 24, 2009 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Thanks, Jenna, I seriously needed a laugh out loud post today. Hysterical, really...just hysterical. ~Vonnie

...and did you notice there are TWO Vonnies that comment on your posts? What are the chances of that?

September 24, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Spring Lake Farm said...

He is so handsome and Winthrop is such a gentleman's name that I can't imagine him acting any other way.

September 24, 2009 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger E said...

Two roosters will likely end up with a fight unless they are completely separated. It works for a while, then one day you will probably come home to slashed faces and blood.

September 24, 2009 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

nope. the geee are riot patrol. they don't allow it.

E, what do you do for a living?

September 24, 2009 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

Hahaha! Thanks for making me smile. You certainly know your roosters well to describe them in such a way.

September 24, 2009 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Dom said...

Your rooster is an absolutely beautiful boy, I love the color contrast. We just got a bunch of new chicks as well - to go along with the same number of hens that you have.

I also have to disagree with E, we've had multiple roosters and we've never had trouble with it - as long as they've been raised together, or a younger animal has grown up with an older one they don't seem to fight at all (at least I've never seen them do so); its when dominance isn't well established that I'd expect fights, such as bringing a second alpha cock in from outside the flock.


September 24, 2009 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Yes - what Dom said.

Also, if you have an a-hole roo, you can spray him with the garden hose (hard). Be sure to do it randomly and for no reason whatsoever. It won't hurt him, he'll hate it, it will be VERY satisfying for you, and you'll remind him that YOU are the alpha roo. That's been working quite well with mine.

September 24, 2009 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Darcie said...

Hilarious. There's hours of entertainment in chickens.

September 24, 2009 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

just curious, are you still vegetarian? i believe you said you were in your book...

September 24, 2009 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger theAvidPenguin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 24, 2009 at 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is one of the funniest posts you have ever written. Whatever put you in the mood to write that is pure gold!!

September 24, 2009 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger Skye Hohmann said...

Great post - very funny! I just discovered your blog and really enjoy reading about your farm. Thanks!

September 24, 2009 at 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laughed and had to read the part about Chuck out loud to my girlfriend. Great post.

September 24, 2009 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Alice Map said...

Hi Jenna,
Long time reader (well, a few months); first time commenter. I just got your book and was reading it all day today while invigilating an exam for dentistry students in a tiny, climate-controlled, window-less room. It was quite a contrast.
So, thank you for writing about real things for those of us who often spend eight hours a day sitting on our butts in windowless offices. I'm aspiring to more self-sufficiency, too, but where my life is for the next few years it won't go beyond a small veggie garden -- which already makes me amazingly happy.
Also, this post is hilarious.
- Alice

September 24, 2009 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Yeah, I haven't eaten meat in almost 7 years? But I will when I start raising my own animals for food. Not there yet, plus raising meat just for me seems like a lot of work when I'm already satisfied with the garden and eggs. If I wasn't single I'd probably not be veggie

September 24, 2009 at 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jenna! You have made me crack up laughing on this one. I can relate with the whole rooster being an asshole thing. Some people might not like this story, but we were given a rooster. He was HUGE, UGLY and MEAN. I have NEVER been afraid of an animal like I was him. (I have even run into bears with my boy when he was 4, miles from other people) So I dont scare easy. This rooster we had would do the same thing, run up behind ya. Hubby though it was great and was a bit shocked to see me out there with a gun putting an end to this. He trapped my boys in their swing set. When he figured out how to jump from level to level and hurt the boys....he was gone. I took care of him. I would have worked with him and tried to figure out a way NOT to do this, but when he tried to attack my youngest bopy in the face. Mommy rage took over and the gun was near the back door. I hope ya never have to do this, but there comes times when ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

September 24, 2009 at 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have two roosters (not intentionally but merely due to hatchery statistics) Chickenzilla (the biggest rooster) and Chili. Chili is the mean rooster in our lot, chasing you around and thinking that he is hot stuff. Chickenzilla could kick his butt and on several occasions actually has, but you are right, they can provide hours of entertainment and do make sure that all the ladies are inside when the automatic chicken door is closing and crow like mad when anyone goes near their women. Loved the post, very funny.

September 24, 2009 at 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading this made me laugh out loud! I may have to use it as an excellent example of character description and voice during writing workshop with my students!

We don't have any livestock - we only have time and space for a veggie garden and heating with firewood - and frankly, our farmer friend's mean poultry always scared me! ;-)

September 25, 2009 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger J and J Oxrieder said...

LOL! Thank you that made my morning!

September 25, 2009 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

Man, did this post make me smile. Love it!

September 25, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

is Winthrop a specific breed? If so, and you know what it is, please let me know. I really like the look of him.

September 25, 2009 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

He's a Light Brahma

September 25, 2009 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...


Thank you so much...I NEEDED that laugh. It has been a Charlie Foxtrot of a week here at the office. Wish I were in VT...or watching Chicken TV at a friends house.

September 25, 2009 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Celia said...

I am completely bummed out right now. I just found out that I can NOT have chickens in my yard.

On an up note....I recently finished your book...and it was fantastic. I enjoyed it very much.

September 25, 2009 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger kadfoto said...

Jenna, hilarious. Thanks for the laugh. We have two roosters too. Neither is mean, but if they every try anything I'm going to keep "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM, BIRD!" in mind. Good stuff.

September 25, 2009 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

Rename him Stew, just to remind him that his future is in your hands. Agreed that a rooster is good but there are way too many alert roosters around who will protect. if he is the Auracana I am surprised.

September 26, 2009 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Bos Grunniens said...

Sounds like the premise for a sitcom...
Very funny!

September 26, 2009 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger ammamcp said...

What a great post! Really funny and great pic of Winthrop.

We had swans in the pond behind my apt in VA and once I learned to back them down, I've not been afraid of geese.

Roosters, now that's a different story!

September 26, 2009 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Laugh out loud funny! I had a hen that I called "the asshole". She was extremely dominating with the rest of the flock AND with me. If I tried to pet one of my ladies, she'd give me a good peck on the hand then shoot a wing out around the bird as if to protect her from my offending limb. Funny, I really miss that butch bird.

October 1, 2009 at 3:34 AM  

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