and his eventual return.
Yongzheng is our Pekin cockerel. He is a lovely cockerel and he is one of only two chickens that actually have names – the other is Bobblehead our little black silkie who hatched the chicks earlier this year. Having a name is important round here – it means you have a better chance of staying alive. The alpacas have names, the dogs and cats have names – the pigs and sheep don’t have names, nor do the turkeys or ducks or hens – generally. Yongzheng looks after the girls – showing them where food is and breaking up fights by calmly standing in between them. He is not aggressive, he is calm in an understated way. He is also relatively quiet – he does cockadoodledo, but quietly and not all the time. When we got our accidental silkie cockerel last year Yongzheng accepted him and lived peacefully with him.
For most of this year the silkie cockerel lived with the silkie hens in our front garden, but when we killed the other cockerels we put him and the girls back in the Pear Orchard with the other hens. For the first few days everything seemed fine. The silkie cockerel hung out with the silkies and Yongzheng hung out with his girls – they both slept in different coops. Then last Saturday when I was letting the hens out in the morning I noticed that Yongzheng wasn’t in the run with the hens. He was cowering inside the coop. His comb was scarred from fighting and his tail feathers drooped. The silkie cockerel in contrast was preening himself, crowing and strutting around the Pear Garden as if he owned it. Eventually Yongzheng came out and spent the day wandering alone, with no hens, keeping his distance, usurped from his position by an upstart nameless silkie cockerel.
Often if there is a scrap among males we will keep the winner – this is what happened with the original quartet of turkeys. The two males fought and we ate the loser. But we don’t primarily want to breed from either the silkie or Pekin cockerel. It is nice having a cockerel to look after the hens, but we value calm, pleasant, friendly and quiet cockerels.
Yongzheng didn’t sleep in the coops on Saturday night, he hid in the bushes away from the other chickens. But on Sunday morning the landscape had changed. Although Yongzheng had temporarily lost the fight, but he had powerful friends on his side. Friends who valued his temperament, friends who weren’t hugely keen on a vain, bullying, nameless cockerel who shrieked his cockadoodledos incessantly, friends who killed the silkie cockerel on Saturday night and then plucked and roasted him for dinner.
So the moral of the story is: if you are a noisy, aggressive, bullying cockerel who is all cockaddodle do, but has no useful qualities, you had better watch out….
N.B. Yongzheng is now back with the girls looking very happy with life.
N.B. Yes the silkie cockerel was old and tough – I should have gently poached him – but we had to eat him as we don’t waste anything here.