Distraction from the stresses of the year


Everyone is a bit stressed with the happenings of 2020.

Certain food items haven’t been readily available, tensions have been high and toilet paper has become as rare as finding a Cabbage Patch doll in the 1980s.

On the farm, in the little chicken coop, life seems to have continued on without any worry in the eyes of a little Crele Old English game rooster named Petey.

Petey was purchased with three other chicks in March just as the pandemic was shutting things down. I had done an educational unit on hatching eggs at the Jackson County Public Library, and since only one egg was going to hatch, I purchased some additional chicks from the local farm store so the single chick wouldn’t feel alone once it made its way out of the shell.

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The sign hanging above the chicks at the store read “Assorted Bantams — Straight Run” and I knew this meant that I was going to be purchasing small size chickens that had not been separated by gender (pullet — girl, cockerel — boy). I purchased the birds thinking I would be able to sell any males once they started crowing in a few months.

It didn’t take long after I got the group settled in at my house, in fact, just three weeks later, that I heard an ear-wrenching screech coming from the brooder box in the basement that housed the tiny chicks.

In the country, an assortment of critters had made their way into the house (including a small garter snake that died at the paws of my two cats, thank goodness) in the past, so I figured this was one more thing I would have to figure out how to relocate to the outdoors.

I crept into the basement, broom in hand, ready for something to fly at me. The sound reverberated again. It was coming from the brooder box.

My previous experience with young cockerels was they didn’t start finding their voices until at least 8 weeks old, so to hear a noise coming from a group of chicks that were only three weeks old was dumbfounding.

I peered into the brooder box, and once again, the little cockerel puffed himself up and let out his noise, sounding a bit like coming of age Peter Brady from "The Brady Bunch."

Fast forward to today and Petey has kept me on my toes ever since that day a few months ago. He has figured out how to get out of the electric poultry netting surrounding the small chickens’ coop and loves to come running up to the house to greet me as if to say, “Hey look, I made it out. Now put me back in.”

He also has a bit of Napoleon Syndrome in that he feels it necessary to “attack” me each morning when I open the coop door and he sees me standing there. All of this just to prove that though he may be small, he can totally put me in my place. He does, too. Those little claws are sharp.

He knows he’s handsome, dancing and two stepping in front of the hens every chance he gets. This dance, called “tidbitting,” is his way of saying, “Hey, ladies. Check me out.”

I pray I can get a handle on his escaping antics sooner than later as we all know a nonconfined bird may equal lunch to a hungry predator browsing through the property during the day, but in the meantime, I’m thankful for a bit of distraction from the stresses of 2020.

Until next time…

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected].

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