As soon as the chickens got let out in the morning, they would begin scratching the ground driving up insects. They performed a valuable service ridding us of ticks. While the hens generally kept quiet and mostly scoured the underbrush away from the house for food and possible nesting sights, the roosters were more curious and pesky. They came near to the house as they could, and gained entry when they found an opening. Their litter was all over the porch and they constantly had to be chased out of spaces they intruded upon. Even though they were useful in the garden removing insect pests, their scratching dug up far to many tender seedlings.
Next came the development stage when male birds have to work out their pecking order. It seems this is a primal drive insuring that the dominate chicken gets the highest roost farthest away from predators. My roosters had no older male to teach and instruct so they worked this out on their own. Our yard resembled a schoolyard when no teachers or monitors were present. Small skirmishes continually broke out amidst loud clucking and puffed up chest displays. Except for the species, I might have been looking at normal adolescent human male behavior. I did not have juvenile court to produce interventions but was able to keep a handle on my flock by diminishing its size, providing chickens to our community. I had no delusions that my birds were being used as none other than food.
Ed was pretty well recovered and needed my help but little. The few times I went over to assist him, I usually received a bird or two he culled from his chicken factory. It seemed I would need to come to terms with my notion of saving birds. Especially in the case of these roosters, birds I saved were still going to meet their demise by ending up on the butcher’s block. I was able to gain some measure of satisfaction from the notion that for their short lives, I was able to provide a somewhat better environment that a crowded smelly barn. Additionally, by roaming free and cohabitating with hens, they was a chance they could get laid before ending up on a dinner table.