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A Sad Farewell

Our Buff Orpington rooster, Mr. Orpington or Orps, lost his life protecting his flock this summer.  Mr. Orpington had to have been one of the kindest roosters to ever walk this earth.  He came to us from a family with two little girls who would bring Orps into their house, dress him up in doll clothes, and shower him with love.  Sadly, they needed a new home for Orps as they had another more dominant rooster that wouldn't let Mr. Orpington live in peace.  We were looking for a kind rooster to watch over our girls after loosing a hen to what we assumed was a fox or coyote attack.  His current family said that he was a great rooster who kept a close eye on his ladies.  Mr. Orpington certainly sounded like he would be a perfect addition to the homestead flock.

When I went to pick him up from their farm, the older of the two girls, a preschooler, went into the hen yard, picked up the big beautiful Orps, and put him into the carrier for me.  All of the hens circled the carrier to tell Orps goodbye.  I knew immediately that he was a one of a kind rooster.

Once integrated into the flock on our homestead, it was obvious that Orps was not only an easy going and gentle bird but he was a great protector who kept a constant eye on the woods and the sky, alerting the girls to anything that seemed out of the ordinary.  He quickly caught the attention of Ginger, our Cinnamon Queen, who was the ruler of the roost before Mr. Orpington's arrival.  She was clearly smitten with the good-looking and gentle rooster.  Once they became a dynamic duo, you never saw one on the homestead without the other.

This spring, we hatched three babies belonging to Ginger and Orps (though Lucy was the broody hen at the time and raised them as her own).  From the union between Ginger and Orps, we have two roosters and one hen.  Gilligan, Randy, and Mary Ann all have traits of both of their parents.  Gilligan and Mary Ann are lighter in color like their dad and Randy has the red coat of his mom.  Initially, we were a little disappointed that two out of the three chicks were going to grow to be roosters but, after Orps' passing, we feel blessed to have his sons on the homestead.

One fateful week this past July, we had two attacks on our flock.  In the first, we came home, after being away for just a few hours, to find that Mr. Orpington was missing.  It was odd as he never traveled far off from the yard and Ginger, who was always by his side was with the rest of the hens sticking near the coop.  We feared the worst but did an extensive search through the woods for signs of Mr. Orpington.  We didn't find any answers.  It was as if he had disappeared into thin air.

The following evening, however, I heard a commotion in the yard as the hens were all warning one another of danger.  I ran outside to catch a glimpse of Bogart, our Great Bernese, in hot pursuit of something through the woods behind the chicken coop.  The hens were hiding around the yard, behind bushes and under the porches.  As I checked to ensure that all of the hens were safe and accounted for, I quickly noticed that Esther was missing most of her tail feathers.  Upon closer inspection, I found an open, bleeding wound on her bare tail.  Meanwhile, Dan walked the path that Bogart had chased the intruder and found just into the woods, there was an area covered in Esther's black feathers.

Bogart had been alerted to the attack by the hen's calling to one another and had shown up in time to chase the assailant off, allowing Esther to escape with her life.  Luckily the wound was in the fatty tail area and was not immediately life threatening.  Though, there's always a risk with an open wound.  We thoroughly cleaned her wound, heavily applied Super Salve to the area, and brought her into the empty brooding house to keep her away from the other hen's who might try to peck at her bare skin.  Over the next couple of days, we continued to apply Super Salve.  Within just a few days, the wound had closed and she was well on the way to healing and ready to rejoin her friends.

We believe the assailant was a fox or coyote but the encounter with Bogart seemed to have scared it away from our property.  We kept the girls in for a few days and kept Bogart outside for protection.  He was on edge the first few days and was constantly surveilling the homestead, but we have not had any other signs of unwanted visitors.

We only wish that things had ended differently for Mr. Orpington.  Knowing what a loyal rooster he was to his flock, we imagine that he gave his life in a fight to keep his girls and chicks safe.  For that we are forever grateful.  Orps will never be forgotten at the Happy Homestead and we feel blessed to have his memory live on in his two sons, Gilligan and Randy.

Dan & Orps