Monday, 1 October 2012

The silence of Orpy

Orpy, our cockerel, doesn't crow in the mornings any more. Do they do this? Do they have times when to broadcast to the world that this is their patch is just too much effort? 

I looked at his face yesterday. He seems quite tired and worn out. His comb has turned darker red and is floppy. Do cockerels get like this? Do they get physically exhausted with keeping a flock of hens happy? Of obeying the signals the hens give out when they want to be mounted, like the flirting of their rear ends in his direction, or the cosying up to him that they do. Perhaps he has had too much of making the future generation. Perhaps he does not want to climb on board a bunch of feathers any more. 

He also seems to come close to us when we are in the Courtyard. Is he saying 'Please rescue me from all these girls', is that what he is trying to tell us?

And his feathers seem to be thinning, especially round his neck. And his tail is now minus much of its plume of feathers. Now all that is left are just two long fronds sticking up jollily. 

Have geese got him down? Now there are five, are they doing his head in? When there were just two males they used to bully him for amusement. Often he was to be found head down, facing into a corner, with the geese messing about round his rear. And when he was trying to do his 'creating-the-future-generation' stuff with the hens, those two geese would shoo him away from his intended target. Has he got ticked off with geese, and now there are three more, is that what is making him fed up with life?

Or perhaps he is too old. Perhaps he has had his day. 

So I am making a special fuss of him, just to let him know that we appreciate his efforts at chick-making. After all, there are eleven hatchlings in the ex-rabbit run, so he must still have some spark of energy left in him.

And I hope he has not heard us discussing a new cockerel, one that is more fiery, only Orpy is a very gentle cockerel and has only caused a problem once, and that was when he mounted at attack on my young three year old grandson, but Joshua was wearing a red t-shirt, which apparently can confuse cockerels into thinking that it is another cockerel come on site. Fortunately Orpy attacked Joshua's back, and Joshua did not see him do it, and Orpy was clouted away just as his two spurred feet were about to hook into Joshua's back. But we need a cockerel who has more pazzaz, but not yet. He is now mating with his daughters. This is not a good thing for the long term health of the flock. Soon it will be with his grand-daughters, if he has the energy to do so. His days are numbered, but hopefully he will manage a few more months. All the rabbits are gone now, all through myxomotosis. We wouldn't like to lose Orpy just yet. 

The cycle of life can be quite fierce, and the heart strings can be frequently messed about with when there is a series of deaths, whether it be the passing of animals or humans.

C'est la vie


Zimbabwe said...

I gather that a cockerel does crow more in summer but I am not sure that they actually stop in winter!

I was attacked by a hawk on my back once, ripped my shirt and certainly caused a bit of blood around the place. This was one which was trained to the fist and I presume it could not wait to be fed!!! I now watch my back :-)

Have a good week Diane

John Gray said...

bless him vera
he may be suffering from a bad heart
(congested comb colour)
in my experience my buff cockerels have not been as robust as their hens

Vera said...

Diane, I can't remember Orpy not crowing before, but that hawk! Crikey but it must have given you a fright!

John, thanks for that. It wouldn't surprise me if his heart was not sound, he does tend to look out of puff at a lot of the time!

Jean said...

Poor Orpy. If he was a human he would be destined for the old folks' home I suppose.

rusty duck said...

Oh what a sad story. Will you be able to 'retire' him, and keep him on the farm even when there is a successor?

Vera said...

Jean and Rusty Duck, I would like eventually have a place where older chickens, especially cockerels, could be retired, but this is not possible at the moment. To keep two cockerels together is not a good idea because they will fight, which makes the hens unsettled and eventually creates a tense atmosphere. For peace and calm there can be only one cockerel, and he needs to be energetic and interested in life, which will then encourage the hens to be a flock rather than the individual hens they have become. It is a dilemma, what to do with our Orpy!