Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spring Break Is Ending

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Winter

The past few days in the Ozarks have been gorgeous, warm and sunny and breezy - a phenomenon that the local weather-guessers have been referring to as "spring break."  But, alas, spring break is ending.  The outside temperatures have been dropping for the past couple of hours and now the air again has a dreadful tinge of winter.  

A couple of things happened at The Roost during the all-too-brief reprieve in the weather.  Rosie, of course, went crazy in the warm weather and spent long periods of time out-of-doors where she raced about the yard in ever expanding circles.  She has the look and racing style of a greyhound, just not the size.

The neighbor lad gave me his entire contingent of chickens a month or so ago - two Araucana roosters and a small banty hen.   The roosters had gotten along fairly well and seemed to be sharing protection and stud duties over the flock of hens until the nice weather set in - then the boys started acting like boys.  I had to sit in my car and wait to leave the house two days ago while the two roosters blocked the driveway with one heck of a fight.  Feathers were flying, and vocal insults were being hurled!  The boys fought off and on the rest of the day until one finally proved to be dominant.  The other now walks around by himself, dejected, and probably plotting his revenge.  A stray hen or two will occasionally drop around and provide him with pity sex, but his self-esteem is still damaged.  Therapy may be in order.

The little banty hen has taken to staying in the hen house all day and sort of supervising the place.  She is a very sweet bird, and I set out little piles of feed just for her.  When I place my chick order in the spring, I will order a few just for her to raise.  Banty's make wonderful mothers.

The little banty also provides her farmer with a couple of tiny eggs each week  I have eleven Rhode Island Red hens in addition to the banty.  During the worst of the cold weather egg production was down to five or six a day, but that number has climbed steadily as the weather has warmed - with daily totals anywhere from nine to eleven.  Today I gathered fifteen eggs - which isn't even supposed to be possible with only twelve hens.   Perhaps the girls are having the neighborhood hens in for brunch - or canasta - while the farmer is busy hitting the snooze alarm!

My eight peacocks are developing into big, healthy birds.  A friend who raises peacocks told me that it might be as much as a year before I would be able to tell the males from the females.  (One reason I bought eight - four each from two breeders - was to insure that I would have some of both genders.)  The sudden warm spell seems to have brought out a few very telling distinctions in my small flock of peacocks.  I am now fairly certain that I have two males and six hens.  The two boys are slightly bigger and their feathers are beginning to show a distinctive pattern.  The ladies are developing greenish feathers around their necks and craws, and the other two are showing bluish feathers around their throats and craws.  The name of the breed is "India Blue," the most common, and in my mind the prettiest, of the peafowl family.

Now, by the time spring really does arrive, I will learn if peacocks (the males of the species) are as possessive and territorial as roosters.  It could be a real feathered brawl as the weather heats up at Rock's Roost!

And now it is raining - a cold, cold rain.   Spring break is officially over!

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