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.
5 thoughts on “The Other Side of The Elrond Coin”
Not that it matters now that Elrond is gone, but reading this makes me wonder if the net is a factor in all of this? That is how you were catching him before he attacked? He hates it, and if he associates it with you, he could have felt threatened. I’m trying to remember now if your mentioned using the net to catch him before?
I also wonder if more hens would made a difference? He only had three and then Sam was gone? He was a very virile bird. We have 24 hens, 2 roosters and 8 babies. Dots has more than enough to keep him occupied and not obsessing.
But again, a moot point now that he’s gone to the farm. I hope your friends’ mom has better luck with him.
You can ‘squash’ the little Roos, too, by picking them up and holding them firmly in your arms until they stop struggling and relax. Also, coax with neck and wattle rubs once the my do relax. Roosters LOVE that, once they get over the OMG!SHESHOLDINGME part. Or mine
Some just don’t like being held. Pip is not overly fond of it, but I do hold and pet him at night after they have gone to roost. I talk to him a lot, too. He still likes to come up to me in the pasture and show me how he can tidbit. I’d much rather he tidbit the girls but it’s nice that he cares enough to show me.
I have noticed that my hen raised babies are less receptive to being held and petted than the brooder raised ones. Momma instills in them a sense of wariness about humans or larger, unknown animals. You’ll have to win Frodo’s babies over with firm kindness. Firm.
The pictures are beautiful! And yay! For new crowing!
The only times I actually caught Elrond with the net were when I was ‘squashing’ him, after he went agro, and when he went off to his new home. The other times I would get him out of the coop in the evenings. I only use the net when I have to and he hated it the first time he saw it without even knowing what it did. I always considered him to be nice until the end but he was never friendly with me. It is a bit different getting an older rooster than raising one yourself. I don’t think I’ll ever acquire an older one again. At least whichever roo I keep I will have raised it myself and watched it develop. My plan is to do at least some handling every day and I have started positively reinforcing the sight of the net using treats and am just going to leave it lying in there sometimes so they don’t get so scared of it.
I would be careful of Pip’s tidbitting as I have read that tidbitting and dancing for a human are precursors to aggression, even if they are cute to watch. The thinking is that they are trying to provide for you and woo you, which means they think you are theirs and if you ‘accept’ their treats you are accepting their dominance. People say you should pick them up and hold them if they do this so you’re telling them that actually, YOU are the boss. Sure, coz we can all catch our roosters just like that, right? But I see what they mean. Now I’m wondering if maybe some of the times I thought Elrond was tidbitting the other chickens he was actually aiming it towards me, since he was near me, even if he didn’t come right up to me and the other chickens were responding to him. There are probably some subtle behaviours that I missed in the lead up to his aggression. Oh well, it’s all part of the learning process.
On the bright side, I held Scrappy, I mean Mr Bingley, 😉 yesterday and he was really good. He didn’t struggle much and enjoyed the sunflower seeds that he got to eat from my hand. I just can’t give him toooo many or he’ll get fat and unhealthy. 😛
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I have never heard that, but I will watch Pip. I just thought he was doing it because he has been a loner until the March babies all grew up. He hasn’t done it since he started getting his own ladies. He’s got 5 or 6 who actively hang out with him now. They hang out in the bushes.
Yeah, probably, you were the only one who was interested in him! That’s good he’s stopped doing it. I’m sure he’ll be fine, but just something to watch and then you can stop any aggression early if need be. I’ll be watching mine for the same things. Lol that’s funny that they hang out in the bushes. Little rebels ay? I’m so glad he got himself some ladies. 🙂
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Wow, well done for giving him the “squash” therapy!! That must be a really difficult situation you’re in. Fortunately I never had an agressive rooster, but I have a psychotic muscovy drake right now. The “squashing” really does help. Or in case of my duck, spraying him with water. (Strangely!) Does he see you as a rival to be conquered, you think? Beautiful chickens! X