The Boys of 5R Farm
I had to give up my first rooster two and a half years ago when our backyard chicken Ramona turned into Ramon, and ever since then I looked forward to the day that I could have roosters in the flock. As the saying goes – be careful what you wish for! We ended up with 6 roosters at 5R Farm, which is several more than we need, but they are such handsome fellows that I can’t bare to get rid of (let alone eat) any of them. It’s been fun to watch the roosters grow up and see how they interact with each other and the ladies, and I have become attached to each and every one of them.
Our alpha rooster and leader of the flock is Rooster Cogburn, also known as Reuben. He is a black australorp and is the largest of our roosters. He has a striking appearance with his full suit of dark black feathers, large black eyes, and large red comb and wattles. Despite his bold appearance, he is a well-behaved rooster and assumed his position as alpha male without so much as a scuffle with the other roosters. Perhaps it’s because when we brought the chicks home, the australorps were a few weeks older than the other chicks – as chicks we called the australorps the dinosaurs because they towered over their flock mates. Reuben was also quite adventurous as a youth, and he was the first to figure out how to escape from the chicken brooder and soon began wandering the kitchen floor begging for treats. Whatever the reason he ended up as the alpha rooster, I’m very glad to have him as the main protector of the flock. He is always on the lookout for predators and gives frequent alarm calls, which are low growls, whenever anything from a mourning dove to an airplane flies overhead. I know that should the time come when a predator infiltrates the chicken yard, Reuben will be right there on the front lines, as a good rooster should be, ready to do battle and defend his ladies to the death.
Next in the rooster hierarchy is Ramon. He is an easter egger rooster and is quite beautiful with his black body and contrasting mix of white, gold, orange, and red accent feathers and beetle-green tail feathers. Although there’s been an occasional quick face-off between Reuben and Ramon, I think Ramon realized early on that Reuben was boss. Ramon is a couple pounds lighter than Reuben, and Ramon has never made a serious challenge to Reuben’s authority. After realizing his place in the pecking order, Ramon quickly attached himself to the first girls of 5R Farm – Rhoda, Raquel, Rosie, Ruby, and Ramona – the big girls that moved to the farm after being city chickens for two years. Ramon can usually be seen following the big girls around the pasture by day, keeping watch over them, and trying to get romantic more often than the big girls would probably like. Despite not receiving a warm welcome from the big girls, Ramon persisted, and it seems as though his advances have become less objectionable as time has gone on. In the beginning, Rosie would chase Ramon away whenever he made an advance toward her, and after she landed a few good pecks on him you should’ve seen him run from her! Ramon’s presence seems to be generally accepted by the big girls now, and at night in the coop Ramon and his small harem sleep in the opposite corner from Reuben and the other roosters.
There are still four more roosters to introduce, so I’ll tell you all about Ringo, Grayson, Henry, and Lil’ Red Rooster next time, so stay tuned!