This is Hanks first picture after arriving here at home.
Hank was left at a feed store I used to frequent in Jonesboro. His owner was going off to college and could no longer care for him.
I stopped in to visit with the old couple that owned the feed store and pick up a few things. This was at the time Ian and I were still working on the old house on weekends getting it ready to sell. Ember you remember, was with us every weekend we went down and stayed with Mama and Daddy during this time.
As I came in the door of the feed store they looked up and said straight away, "How would you like a free rooster?" I did not disappoint them, they knew he would be going to a good home if he went with me. So I said I would take him on home with me for sure. I had not even taken a look at him yet, and when I did, oh my word.
This rooster looked very mean. He had some very long overgrown spurs. He was in a very cramped cat carrier and was not too happy about it. Even the man that worked there for the couple was not too keen on handling him. I convinced myself there was no reason to be scared of this bird and after borrowing a pair of work gloves...I got him out to take a better look at him and also put him in a bigger container to take home with me.
Wheweeeee! He smelled like sour garbage! Why did this bird smell SO bad? On closer inspection under his neck feathers he was also COVERED in mites, some kind I had never seen before! EW! They were long and creepy looking! I put him in the big box they had gotten up for me to carry him off in right away. Well...at least now I knew he wasnt aggressive, but boy did he smell!
Talking to this big man to reassure him he was in good hands, I drove back to Mama and Daddys house with him. Ember was busy scratching and eating bugs in Daddys garden. As I was getting out of the truck Mama opened the front door and saw I had a box.
"What have you got there?" she asked. Like there was any other answer than a chicken was in the box. ;)
I took him still in the box out into the backyard to let him out. I didnt know if he would try to run away and I sure didnt want to be chasing him all over the neighborhood so Daddy brought me some small thin rope to tie to his leg and tether him to a tree. He didnt even put up a fuss, until he saw Ember! Ohhhh a LADY!!! He got extremely excited, started trying to go see her. Ember was not so sure about this big old rooster and skirted around him just outside his reach of the stretched out rope. Hank knew he was interested in Ember, that was apparent! Once they got acquainted and Hank settled down Ember came into his space. He was the perfect gentleman. He danced for her, talked to her, showed her he found something good to eat. This was the beginning of something big I could tell.
But oh he SMELLED...remember...like sour garbage.
Once I saw he wasnt going anywhere the next step that very day before he went home with us the next day was to give him a bath. The first step was to powder him with Sevin dust. That was on Saturday. That was not that big of a deal for him. That treatment killed the bugs, but NOT that odor of sour garbage. So the next day, on Sunday, he got a BATH. Oh you have never seen such a pitiful sight. I had to tether him to the fence so he wouldnt run away. I used a dog shampoo that smells SO good surely it would kill that awful smell on him.
At first he fought me, trying to get away, then finally he resigned himself to getting his bath.
Have you ever seen a big rooster pout? I have, it is such a pitiful sight. Funny, but pitiful.
After I finished giving him a bath I let him loose and he didnt go anywhere, not one step. He looked like a drowned rat and he knew it.
What you dont think roosters have issues with their looks? Oh they do, yes they most certainly do. When one of my boys goes into a molt around here and loses his tail feathers he loses all confidence. Prime example is Tim. He is proud of his long long tail and all that plumage. Right now he has no long feathers and just a few short ones on his rear. I havent seen him dance or mate a girl in a while, and usually he gets pretty frisky with me and I have to remind him who is the boss, but not lately. Lately he just stands there looking at me, even moving away from me if I come toward him. But I am getting away from the subject...back to Hank...
Since he wasnt going to move, I moved him. I picked his waterlogged body up and took him to the middle of the yard. Ember came up to him but he just stood there, looking humiliated and embarrassed at his appearance.
I thought, OH NO, I think I have traumatized him so badly he is just going to stand there until he keels over and dies! People, he stood there for a good fifteen minutes before he finally decided he was going to live and started preening himself, seperating feathers and getting himself back together. Whew, I thought I had killed him with a BATH! LOL
From that weekend on Hank came along with Ember on the weekends that we went to work on the house. A match made in heaven. Two cast offs found each other and boy were they in love. At home if Hank strayed far from her she would make this screeching noise at him to come back...and he would of course. They were inseperable. Ember no longer had to stay in a pen or in the porch, she had her big old man and those mean hens no longer picked on her.
Once or twice I saw something quite amazing. Chickens will dig up an area of ground and take a dirt bath. It is instinctual behavior to rid themselves of parasites such as mites and lice. Even if they dont have them, they still seem to enjoy doing this.
Ember would make these little noises...and Hank would respond. He would take his big strong feet and big strong legs and dig and dig a brand new hole...but it wasnt for him. That was what was amazing. He did this just for Ember. When he was finished she would lay down in that hole and take her dirt bath as he stood by and watched. Eventually he would join her, but not at first. He always let her get started for about five minutes or so before he would lay down with her and flip and flop.
I miss Ember very much. I don't know if he does. I think he remembers her. During the winter they had a pen for just the two of them for shelter. They always slept together at night.
Hank became somewhat aggressive for a while so I had to pen him in solitude. After a break I let him out and do you know Ember and Hank, they hooked right back up. This was after a couple of months of being seperated.
We still have Hank of course. What a big ole puppy dog he is. He is not aggressive at all now. I guess he just had a moment where he was grouchy, I dont really know. He is the king of the yard, the boss. Well. Mostly. You would think a big ole ten pound rooster would be fearless...but there are two little men out there, Rough and Rowdy. They are just little white silkies. But they have an attitude that wont quit. Hank wont mess with them. If they feel the need to intimidate him they will run at him. He used to not run...but they would slam into him kamakazee style and send him freaking out running. Now he gives them a wide birth to avoid any confrontation. Makes no sense because if another rooster tries to mate a hen he comes running to knock them off and tell them about it. Not Rough and Rowdy. Guess I named those two perfectly...lol.
I dont know how old Hank is. I figure he was at least two years old when we got him from the looks of those spurs. He may even be older than that. He has been with us for two years now. He has so much character. I love that rooster so much.
Here are some more recent pictures of my big boy Hank...
I hope you enjoyed his story.
Dont you just want to hug him and squeeze him and bury your face in all those soft feathers? You can you know, he doesnt smell now...lol.
I was looking and looking for this picture of Ember when I made the entry about her...found it finally so I thought I would add it here.