All Sorts of Ruckus Going On

If you’ve never had chickens before, I can tell you that they can be very clicky. They form their own little groupies and aren’t too happy to let outsiders in. Usually the groups can coexist okay but there is frequent bickering, squabbling, clucking and complaining that leads to a disturbance with lots of commotion, racket, noise, hubbub… that eventually turns into a full blown ruckus. With as many chickens as we have running around here, it can get pretty noisy.

The spring when Miley was four we got our first chicks. By the middle of the summer, they were almost full grown and free ranging. One day I was outside chatting with her as she played on the swing set. All of a sudden, out by the barn, there was a loud commotion of clucking and squabbling going on.

Miley jumped off the swing and said, “Mom, do you hear the chickens? They’re so loud!”

I replied, “Yeah, it sounds like there’s a mighty big ruckus going on out there.”

“What’s a ruckus?” she asked.

“It’s a commotion or a lot of noise,” I said.

“Why are they making all that noise?”

“I’m not sure, maybe they are fighting or a cat is out there and they don’t like it,” I replied. Then she went back to swinging.

Later that afternoon, we were in the house and all of a sudden there was another round of racket and hubbub. Only this time it was taking place in our front yard. “The chickens are making a ruckus again,” Miley said as she ran to the door to see. “Mom, come here! Look at Mr. Rooster, he’s on top of that hen!”

I went to the door and looked out the window. There in the middle of all the commotion was Mr. Rooster doing… well, you know… his roosterly thing with the hen. I was thinking, oh dear… how am I going to explain this…

“You need to go get him off, he might be hurting that hen!” she exclaimed.

“Well…uh…,” I paused to think what to say. “He’s not hurting her.” At that time he jumped off the hen, the commotion was over, and the flock went to happily searching for bugs as if nothing had happened. “Maybe the hen was just fighting with another hen and he was just breaking it up.” That seemed to satisfy her curiosity and she went back to playing without any further questions. Whew!

Over the rest of the summer there were many chicken squabbles and fights. Then there was Mr. Rooster doing a whole lot of roosterly things and it always seemed like he planned them to happen when we were sitting outside, trying to relax and enjoy the evening. It was hard to miss and hard to ignore. But to Miley, it was just a bunch of chicken ruckus and Mr. Rooster trying to keep things in order.

That fall we got an incubator and decided to hatch some eggs. One day, as we were candling them to see if they were fertile, Miley asked, “How do chickens get fertilized eggs?” Oh dear…

I paused for a minute then said, “Uh… you know when there is a big chicken ruckus and Mr. Rooster gets on top of one of the hens?”

“Yes,” replied Miley.

“Well… when he does that he’s giving them fertilized eggs.”

As I braced myself for more questions, she looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Those hens must have a BUNCH of fertilized eggs!” I tried to keep a straight face, but there was no way. I started laughing so hard that I excused myself to another room so I could regain my composure. Oh dear… maybe I should have told her to wait and ask Dad once he got home….

After that little conversation, the word ruckus took on a whole new meaning at our house. It no longer simply meant a lot of noise and hubbub; instead it meant “to mate”. Oh my, out of all the words I could have used in the beginning to describe the noise, it just had to be ruckus. So not only did Mr. Rooster have a ruckus with the hens, our Nubian goat buck had a ruckus with the does and even a few stray tom cats had a ruckus with the barn cats.

Now that Miley is a little older and doing more things with friends, I decided it would be a good idea to suggest she use the word mate instead of ruckus. I could just imagine her telling her friends that roosters have ruckus with hens and give them fertilized eggs, then her friends go home and tell their parents all about the new word they learned. My phone would start ringing with questions about what my kid had been teaching their kids and that could cause a lot of commotion, racket, noise, hubbub… well… you know, create quite a ruckus.

Miley and Mr. Rooster before all the ruckus began.

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