Monday, October 28, 2013

The day I thought I killed a rooster.

Last Friday my farmer boy and I spent a few hours in the bush with the chickens.

We moved the boundary electric fences, shifted their houses, collected the eggs, fixed their waterers, fed them and spent a while watching them enjoying their fresh ground.

Watching the chooks fly out of their houses onto a new patch of farm is such a joy, so exciting, I took heaps of photos and will share them with you one day soon.

But the story I want to tell you today is about a rooster. A big, white, intimidating, beautiful rooster.

To be honest, I am always intimidated and wary of our roosters. I have more than a few scars up and down my legs to explain why.

But biodiversity is incredibly important to us here at Daylesford Organics and we don't believe that it's right to keep 200 females with no males.

Also we feel that it is our responsibility to provide a good life for our hens, a life that is as close to their natural life as we can facilitate while protecting them from predators and the elements.

So we must keep a few roosters. And I must always, always be on the look out for their attacks.

But let's get back to last Friday...

We'd just finished all the jobs and were getting ready to head back up to the shed, when I decided to snap a few shots of the chooks on the bright green grass before we left.

The chooks were calmly exploring and feeding, the dogs and alpacas looked happy in their new surroundings and even the roosters seemed preoccupied and content.

So I let my guard down and got lost in the beautiful moment.

Until that big, white rooster came at me, all puffed up and ready to attack.

I jumped up and screamed and kicked my leg in his general direction a few times. Generally this is enough to put a rooster off his attack, but not this time. This rooster was insistent and came at me over and over again, standing as tall as he could, with his feathers on end, trying to get me with his sharp spurs.

Each time I'd kick at him he'd jump back and then forward at me again. And again. And again.

I couldn't see any way out and was terrified, of him and of the thought that another rooster might attack me from behind while I wasn't watching.

I needed a new plan and looked around desperately for help. A stick! Slowly I bent down to get one at my feet and he tried to jump at my arm, but I was quicker and struck at him with the stick. I think I meant to hit his body and scare him away but somehow the stick connected with his head and the rooster fell down and didn't get up. He just lay there, still.

I waited a few seconds and when he didn't move I screamed and I lost it. I thought I'd killed or injured him. I could not stop crying. Bren reached me, my face wet with tears, thinking I had been attacked.

But I was distraught. That poor creature lying there dead or in terrible pain and there I stood, huge, with a stick, the attacker. I cried and cried and cried.

Eventually Bren went and got the rooster back up on his feet. He stood there in the same spot for a while visibly shaken but OK and then after a while he walked slowly away.

I couldn't shake that terrible feeling for the rest of the day. It felt ghastly.

And ever since then I've been trying to reconcile the feelings I have for an animal that I don't particularly like, with the awful, awful feelings of hurting another creature, a creature that is so much smaller than me and who is reliant on me.

It feels big. I feel more wary than ever while collecting the eggs these past few days. And I feel more in awe of Mother Nature, and life cycles, and food chains, and our role as animal keepers and protectors than ever before.

Phew, I feel a bit better now that's out.
Thanks so much for reading.
I hope you have a gorgeous new week.



  1. Awe, what a beautiful story and person you are! I would be the same way. There are animals that scare me, but I do not want to kill them. Let go of the feelings, you were only trying to protect yourself, not harm him. I love your home; a great place for your children to make memories and grow up.

  2. My friend accidentally trod on her pet bunny recently whilst he was in the backyard sun-baking...the bunny is sadly no longer with us. I keep saying to her that that rabbit had a bloody good life thanks to her, even right up until the very very was an accident and we only feel so bad about things like this as we have kindness in our heart for animals. If only Steggals and Inghams felt the same the world would be a much better place.

  3. Maybe he learned an important lesson too.

  4. How awful Kate...for you and the rooster. I really dislike roosters as I have been attacked before too, even though I know they are only doing what nature intended. We don't keep them for that very reason. It is nice for our children to go in and out of the chook house without having to be so wary.

    Beautiful photos of your chooks and farm as always x

  5. I laughed when I read this. Same thing happened to me, swooping magpie met my school bag. He was up and swooping again the next day though so I obviously didn't knock some sense into it :P

  6. I did exactly the same thing to a drake many years ago. I thought I had broken his neck and was so distraught. Apparently I had only stunned him because he wandered off soon after.

  7. aww you poor thing. I would have done the same I'm sure. I'm glad both you and the rooster walked away unhurt xx

  8. For a while I wanted to kill our rooster, Tony, who was big white and handsome because he woke me up every morning at 330 and it drove me crazy and how I wished he would die and then a big goanna got into the chook house and killed him and I felt so sick that I had willed it to happen and now, 5 years later I still feel a pang of guilt that I could have wished an animal would die. So awful. I have tears, for the roosters. Xxx

  9. Oh man Kate - that is so traumatic.
    I hope you are feeling better about it now - there wasn't much else you could do in that situation!XXXJ

  10. Dont worry you did nothing wrong, just instincts kicked in.You have fed and watered this animal given him shelter, so it goes with out saying.I would be on the look out or send your hubby to fetch the eggs : ) x

  11. We've just been given 8 baby chickens and I mum and I dread the day that the chickens slowly grow into their male right of passage. I too would love to keep one, but living in he middle of town, I don't think our neighbours would appreciated it.

  12. Many years ago , when I was wee, we had a bantam rooster in our flock, called Charlie. He was a little thug, he even used to attack our dog, a fox terrier, and would hop on her back. we kids were very wary of him and mum always took a stick into the henhouse with her. one day he attacked her so she bopped him with her stick and killed him. So she thought. She went up to the henhouse later to retrieve the body and he was running round large as life. the whack on the head did nothing to improve his humour and as far as I recall he lived a long life terrorising all and sundry!!!!

  13. I had no idea roosters were so aggressive! But he acted on instinct and so did you defending yourself, so I don't think you should be too hard on yourself. Misjudging the swing was an accident, but another rooster would have defended himself so why not you? I'm sure he would expect no less! He's probably quite chuffed that he stood up to you and (as far as he knows) drove you off with no harm done to his flock.

  14. cripes makes me feel really really blessed that all our chaps are actually quite gentle - hector our biggest rooster loves being tucked under my arm :)

  15. Lordy, that would be frightening.... I didn't know roosters did that... but you do need to look after yourself and protect yourself from injury. Your hens look like happy hens... the photos are just glorious!

  16. Its so interesting to see chickens in the forest. Normally here they are in fields (if they are lucky) or chicken yards, but not in a wooded area. Even though the rooster may seem evil, it is good that he is protecting his ladies so well!

  17. Nodding my head here Kate. Twenty years ago I was feeding the chooks and the rooster at the time was a rooster the size of a small house cow (or so it seemed) with a temper like no other. This particular day he was especially grumpy and clearly my feeding his girls was annoying him. He went at me with everything he had, I planted a size 10 farm sized gumboot in his feathered puffed out chest with EVERYTHING I had...and the bugger didn't even flinch. Not a muscle. I screamed tumbled out the door, and have been rather toey ever since of roosters.
    Respect for Mr Feathers that's for sure.

  18. My dad did this once, when we were kids. He always hated the roosters - he was ok with the chooks, but those roosters crowing and crowing!!! (and digging all his plants in the garden; bantam chooks seem worse than bigger ones...). One day when we were all out, and dad was home one of the biggest roosters was making so much noise all day and wouldn't stop, and I think digging up a special plant. My dad, in his complete frustration, threw a rock in the rooster's direction. It was meant to hit the ground nearby and scar the rooster off, instead it hit in straight in the head and he fell over sideways - a bit like your rooster, maybe? - he lay still for what must have seemed like moments to my dad; thinking he killed it. My dad propped the rooster up against a fence, and the poor stunned bird sat there for quite a while before he finally walked off. I imagine both the rooster and my dad were a bit quiet that afternoon!
    (Also, when my sister was really very young she accidentally squashed a new baby chick, as she was hugging it with so much love...... Oh. and I think my mum stepped on a baby chick in the garden once, it thought she was it's mum and was always under her feet!).

  19. Oh poor you! But he was ok so dont let it upset you any more, he might think twice about attacking you next time? he just might!


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Kate XX

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