What I am preparing to tell you is the most epic love story to ever happen to our little farm. It began with two adorable little chicks last spring who I bought from a local breeder. I was chasing exotic and exciting breeds, having already established a good laying flock of common and heritage breed hens.
In my quest for variety, I picked out two teeny tiny little bantam chicks and brought home with me. For you non-chicken folk, bantams (or bantys) are like the midget breeds of chickens. Although not quite a tea cup (those would be Seramas), bantams are usually only about a half the size of your traditional chickens. Now, I picked out one turken bantam (aka naked necks) and one frizzle. So.. not only did I have a half naked chicken, because as the name suggests their necks are completely naked, but I also had a chick whose adult feathers, instead of laying flat, would curl upwards and away from his body to make a giant fluffy mess. Oh, and they’re MINIATURE! Does it get any cuter than that?
Well times goes by and is often the case with your favorite chickens, time and time again they turn out to boys. Again, for you non-chicken-keepers, males are a three-way mix of undesirable traits it most cases.
- They don’t lay eggs or provide you anything of substance besides noise.
- They can be outright nasty little jerks, chasing after and attacking you with their spars or beating up the girls.
- You generally cannot have two roosters without a large number of hens, or lots of space.
Now I bought exotic chickens, so I wasn’t exactly expecting laying chickens to begin with. But I was worried about having two roosters sharing my hens and a space. Because they were so small, they were together in a separate pen and I resigned to keeping them together until they began to fight, and then rehoming whichever was a meaner chicken.
However, before they reached maturity, a friend of mine got me a couple of Midnight Majesty Maran chicks in late summer. I had been chasing marans earlier in the spring when I got my other chicks for the incredibly dark, chocolatey eggs, but had given up when I couldn’t find any. She snagged me a couple when they got me a late shipment into her feed store, and although I was excited I had no idea where to put them. Chickens bully other chicks that are smaller them relentlessly, often to death. The other full-sized hens I had bought in the spring were now way too old and way too large for me to add these chicks in with them, and I didn’t have another coop because my “chick coop” was being used by the boys. Fearfully, and on a whim, I tried placing the new chicks in with the adolescent roosters as they were decently close in size.
What happened? Well, love blossomed. Next thing I know, these roosters are raising these chicks together! Teaching them to scratch for feed and find treats, and sitting on them at night to keep them warm. I kept waiting for them to grow into they masculinity and spar with each other and the Maran chicks, but it never happened. Those two roosters fell in love and raised a little family together, and I have never seen anything like it.
We ended up buying a new farm and moving last month (more on that another time), and when we moved we merged the Rooster’s family in with our laying hen flock. It was a fairly seamless transition for everyone, but what is most amazing to me is despite all the new social bonds being made, the little family had remained tight.
In our rush to move we refurbished an old outbuilding on the farm in just two short days, quickly throwing up a run and sealing off any drafty cracks. In my rush I didn’t make a ramp to the roosting bar floor, or nesting boxes. After all, it is only about three feet high and all my hens can make it up there with a hop. However, I completely forgot that frizzles cannot fly, because of the way their wings are shaped. After a couple of nights of poor Mr. Frizzle sleeping on the floor of the coop, it finally dawned on me that he couldn’t get up with everyone else, no matter how hard he tried! (Don’t forget he is a bantam, so he is extra short anyways.)
Don’t worry, I built a ramp the next day and since then the issue has been resolved. But until the ramp was built, when I would go out in the evening to lock the birds up poor Mr. Frizzle would be on the floor by himself. Yet each morning, when I would go to let them out for the day, one or both of his “chicks” would be cuddled on the floor next to him, and sometimes his other rooster partner too. If that isn’t true love, I don’t guess I know what is.