Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Evil Roo' Calamity

Last Saturday the chicken coop got a new stuffing of hay and the chicken flock took the opportunity to leave the pen, too. Snow covered the ground so the extent of their venturing was to cling to the base of a large tree near their pen, or gather on the edge of an upturned bucket. I assumed that once their house was back in order with fresh food and water served, they would come in out of the snow and cold. They chose to remain huddled in the snow.

I had to leave, and knew it would be a close call to return home by dark. I have not seen a coyote nor any tracks near the house recently, so I was not too worried about their safety in the short term. When I got home later that night, the chickens had returned to the coop but only eleven were there. I thought maybe Tenzing had returned to her solitary condo on the back porch - a long trek through twelve inches of snow for a little hen about nine inches tall, though.

I closed up the pen against predators and came in the house but there was no little hen on the back porch. I sadly assumed the wild critters had collected one of the hens as a tithe.

It was not until Sunday evening when I was coming back from the barn, wearing the marvelous headlamp (a gift from my kids)that I noticed in the laser-like beam a white lump on top of the chicken pen. (The entire pen is enclosed in chicken wire to protect the chickens from ground and air attacks.) The lump turned out to be the Evil Rooster, formerly known as Elvis. He had been away from his flock, in the brutal winter elements for twenty four hours. Where he had been all night and all day, I do not know. He was perched at the peak of the pen and I could not reach him. I had to force him down with a rake. I was certain he was frost bitten, maybe even dying, though he protested mightily over the rude raking. I simply put him in the coop with his flock and hoped the gradual warming would be the best thing for him. He immediately began eating, so at least his gizzard was not frozen.

What a calamity it was for him to be alone in the brutal cold with no food, no water, no warmth. D'Uccles do not roost with their heads under their wings, so I was certain his comb was frostbitten. He has stayed in the midst of his flock since I put him back in the coop, and his comb is turning dark. I do not know if he will lose all of it, or not. I can hardly believe the poor little guy survived for twenty four hours on his own, anyway. There are so many animals that would love to eat a rooster - not just coyotes.



Li'l Ned said...

Oh gosh, now you've got us all worried about the Evil Roo. You know there's a legion of fans of your chickens. Better than a soap opera, and for me, food for thought re my own plans/hopes/wishes/fantasies of having a coop in my backyard someday (this year?!). If I decide to do it, Jackie, will you come out and help me set everything up? Maybe I can figure out some way to hire you, tax-deductibly of course, as a musical consultant: Singing Chicken Ranch? Piano for Peeps?

On the Roo front, have you given him ETS+ for Animals? You might have to just fling it in his general direction, but surely he deserves the best?!

Anonymous said...

My maternal grandmother (hearty Kansas farm woman) often used the expression, "tough ol' bird." Sounds like a good description of the Evil Rooster, formerly known as Elvis. Let's hope it fits him.

Anonymous said...

My maternal grandmother (hearty Kansas farm woman) used to use the expression, "tough old bird." Sounds like a good description of the Evil Rooster, formerly known as Elvis.

Anonymous said...

How is The Evil Roo formaly known as Elvis doing?

Jackie said...

Evil Roo, bless his heart, looks as if he is going to lose his entire comb. As a D'Uccle, he hardly has any wattles, (those handsome red facial appendages the roo's have as part of their kingly finery.)

The vet says it is very common for them to get frostbitten, and the skin usually sloughs off with no problems. He also said chickens have such a high body temperature that they are not prone or susceptible to a lot of infections the way other animals are.

He did not readily agree that I should bring the Evil Roo in to have the comb removed surgerically, but if I insist on it, I am sure he will do it. He is not certain the whole comb is lost, but I am certain that it is. Poor Roo' - the vet did not think there was a lot of feeling in the combs either as there is not a lot of blood vessels to that area. He is a good vet, but I do not know how much of an expert he is on roosters. Other readers might know more.