Since Elrond the rooster flipped to the other side of the coin, I have been a bit scared of being out near the chickens. The other side of the coin isn’t shiny and full of promise, it’s grimy and dark. I am so glad I clipped his wings. And I am so glad that I went back in there soon after he attacked me, after I had steadied myself a little, made sure he was staying out in the pen, and armed with the rake (me, not him), to get the coop cleaned, as I was still running on adrenaline and I don’t know if I would be ok with going back in there by myself if I hadn’t. Also, I needed to show Elrond that he was not going to scare me away.
That evening The Husband was out and I had to wait until The Little Fulla had been put to bed to go and shut the coop. Usually there is still some light when the chickens put themselves to bed, but this time it was dark. Very dark. It is so dark out here you can see the milky way and a million stars in the night sky. I had the torch, but I kept half-expecting Elrond to be lurking around or perched somewhere, waiting to pounce on me. You know how it is, things are always worse at night! I shone the torch everywhere. Was he out in the pen? Had he climbed on top of the hay or wood in the woodshed? Was he on the coop roof? Was he going to burst out of the pophole breathing fire and screeching like a freight train? Obviously, Elrond was not lurking around like a psychopath and I shut the coop for the night.
I usually do the chickens’ food early in the morning when I let them out and I clean and refill their water bell later in the morning when I can see properly and it’s not freezing cold, but since Elrond flipped his lid I have been cleaning and refilling the water bell by torchlight and putting the food vessels in the garage until morning, when I put them out BEFORE opening the coop. You see, I have thought about this. It is minimal time in the pen until Elrond goes. His whole behaviour towards me changed. After the attack he was fixated on me every time I came near the pen. He wouldn’t even touch the weeds or sunflower seeds I threw over the fence as he was busy patrolling the perimeter and eyeballing me wherever I went. I was scared just throwing sunflower seeds over the fence, imagining that Elrond might suddenly decide to bust over the fence or something. Now Elrond is a ninja. And a lion. And a fire-breathing dragon. Did I mention I have an overactive imagination?
This would not do. I knew I had to catch and hold Elrond to show him I was the boss. It’s easier said than done when you have scarce time thanks to a small child who’s not sure if he wants a morning nap anymore and a rooster who hates being caught. The only way I can catch him during the day is with the net. He HATES the net. He can see it from a mile away and just a glimmer of it sends him into panic mode and he scares all the others. It’s not ideal but I had to do it to reinforce my dominance. I managed to catch him with a lot of struggling and then I held him down, upright but belly to the ground, patting him and talking to him nicely (although I felt like talking to him sternly). As I relaxed my grip he started to struggle so I held him down again until he stopped trying to escape. Then I picked him up and walked around and around the pen with him for a while. And then I held him down on the ground again for a bit, let go and walked away calmly, but backwards. He got up slowly and walked off, probably wondering how on earth that happened. I, on the other hand, felt extremely pleased with myself. I did it!
My fellow chicken blogger Deb (There a Chick) has shared this great video by Amanda Wall about ‘squashing‘ a rooster. I probably needed to ‘squash’ Elrond for longer and covering his eyes seems to be an important part of it too. But at least Elrond hasn’t been as bad since I ‘squashed’ him. He isn’t fixating on me so much, but he is still being hyper-protective of ‘his’ flock. I can’t spend the time that I badly need with the little ones. Legolas and Frodo are tiring of him a bit. Today I heard a lot of chicken commotion and when I looked out the window both the girls were up on the purpleish fence looking down at Elrond. He is horny and aggressive. Oh dear. I felt sorry for the girls and I don’t really mind them being up on the fence as long as they don’t jump down to the other side. Legolas has been up there a number of times escaping from Elrond and hasn’t been a’wandering. This was the first time I’d seen Frodo up there though. Then a few of the little chickens joined them. Oh no, we don’t want that. They could easily go over the other side and all over the place since they’re still figuring things out. I had to go and shoo them off. And again later. I might have to do something to stop them jumping up there until Elrond goes.
You might wonder, why bother ‘squashing’ Elrond if he’s not going to be here much longer? Firstly, for his sake. He needs to know that humans are the bosses and are not to be attacked. He is going to a new home with space to roam, but he still needs to be taught to respect his human keepers, whether it is me or someone else. Secondly, for my sake. I needed to show Elrond that I was dominant to help regain my confidence and also because it is good practice for future rooster keeping. I really need to be doing it every day but time is getting away on me at the moment and I don’t like having to catch him with the net because he freaks out all the others and I don’t want his attitude to rub off on them. Getting him out of the coop at night is easier but it kind of defeats the purpose of showing him that I am the boss, being in the dark when he can’t see me and none of the other chickens can see me being ‘the boss’ to him either. Argh, it’s just not a good situation.
I feel like I’m in limbo. I need to spend time with the little roos to watch and assess their personalities, which are suddenly way more important than I thought they were. It is very hard to tell what a rooster will turn out like in the end but if I can start with one who is really nice when young maybe he will stay that way. I may love Scrappy’s colour but if he turns out to be not so nice then he won’t be much good. I may pick two roos to keep until they get a bit older in case one goes agro. If I could just get Scrappy’s beautiful colour out in a pullet or two I would be happy. There is too much to think about. All the stormy weather we’re having doesn’t help either. Everything just seems a bit gloomy right now. I think I need to take some time out and focus on my special friend, the garden.