One of our hens started crowing. It wasn't an impressive crow, but she was crowing. It's possible she just identified as a rooster (and, if so, more power to her) - but probably this meant she was trying to fill a role that needed to be filled in the flock dynamic.
We had 14 hens and no roosters.
I'm guessing there's some social balance that's missing when you have that many ladies and no roos. A rooster's job is to protect his flock, so maybe they just wanted to feel safe?
Whatever the reason, I figured we should get a rooster. But we had to get rid of our last rooster because he was fucking mean. If you turned your back on him, he'd attack you. If you backed away, he'd attack you. You basically had to kick him or he'd attack you.
Once he chased my then-6yo son across the yard. Another time he slashed him across the stomach. And the kids stopped wanting to even go outside.
One of the primary reasons we have chickens is for the kids, so this was a real non-starter. Ragnar (I know, nominative determinism is real) had to go. That was two years ago.
Our flock has grown bigger and we needed to try bringing balance to it.
So I watched Craigslist for one of those "we live in the suburbs and are only allowed hens and my kids raised this one like a pet and now he's crowing please don't eat him" posts.
And I found this little guy:
He'd been raised by three little girls and they couldn't keep him in their suburban backyard.
When they brought him by to drop him off and say goodbye he rode in the girls' lap in the truck. He was incredibly tame. And he's a Barred Rock, a breed known for its even-tempered roosters.
I named him Chad.
Chad got his ass kicked by the girls for the first few months, but he's settling in nicely. He's getting big (and gorgeous) and he's still gentle and tame with no signs of aggression toward the girls or the kids.
When the girls are out foraging, he knows his job. He walks the perimeter, standing tall, watching for hawks. Seems like he's working out great so far.
And the girls haven't crowed since he got here.
Turns out giving them a social structure that mirrors what they evolved to live in was probably the right move.
Do you ever wonder how many of our human dysfunctions come from the fact that we're living in a world wildly divergent from the one we evolved in? My guess is: most of them.
This line of thought informs a lot of the things we do. At night we read by lights that I tune down to the same color as fire/candles. My kids often sleep in our room. We eat quite seasonally. We spend as much time outside as possible. We do physical labor. We make things. We take naps.
And these things are my favorite parts of life. Probably not a coincidence.