9 June finds me at New Terra Farm south of Merrickville, Ontario, admiring Scott and Susie's splendid rooster. I am told that he is a cross between the heritage breeds of Red Dorking and Black Australorpe. The hens are Black Australorpe. They are good-natured birds, multi-purpose, and this rooster is not agressive toward people.
Ever since we first got our own laying hens, chickens have fascinated me. Observed closely, their heads have an unlovely, wrinkled, beaky shape that makes me think of dinosaurs. The domestic breeds have their origin in Red Jungle Fowl in northeast India, and this fellow looks very like his distant ancestor. Their natural instincts are so compatible with domestic life, as jungle fowl flocks are nomadic, nesting wherever and whenever they find a bamboo grove that has flowered and gone to seed. Bamboo in different areas synchronize their flowering, so the fowl often must travel far, foraging on insects and various seeds, until they find a fruitful bamboo grove to provide the abundance of seeds required for egg laying. So when people provide chickens with lots of food, they stick around and lay lots of eggs!