Ivan the Terrible

by Lynn

I grew up around chickens. My father always had a coop full. However, I was not familiar with game birds. My husband acquired 2 hens and a rooster soon after we were married.

Soon after receiving these chickens to start my own coop when Squirley Shirley began to set. She hatched 3 roosters and 2 hens.

Upon maturation the young roosters killed their other brother and father on the same day. I was thrown into the world of game birds in an instant. Around the same time this happened we increased our flock and added laying hens and bantam hens to our hen house.

More hens hatched young chicks. This only increased the aggression that the 2 remaining Kelso roosters had. So I named the most aggressive Ivan the Terrible and his gentler brother Czar.

Somehow I managed to hatch and raise a Rhode island red and game cross rooster. So now we have Manford, a big lethal machine. Everything was becoming chaotic. Soon I had to take control.

The obvious solution was to restrain the aggressive birds for their safety and the safety of the flock. Manford was afforded his own pen with hens. All was working until Manford's gate was opened by some young boys and left open. He put a beating - a near death beating - on Ivan.

When i found Ivan laying by his water still restrained and almost dead, i cleared his nasal ways washed his bloodied head, cooled his overheated, exhausted body. And discovered he had lost an eye during the altercation. Now I had a beautiful 1 eyed bird.

I had Ivan nearly healed when a young hatchling who considered himself a young stag decided to take Ivan on. Both birds fought to nearly death. All my hard work healing Ivan and i had to start all over.

Before he finished healing once again he was in his last altercation. I worked for almost a year healing Ivan. He and i formed a bond and a trust. I saved Ivan 3 times from death. Nursed him back to health and he was becoming a beautiful rooster again, regrowing his feathers he'd lost in all his battles.

For months Ivan looked awful, he was bald in areas, his head looked like he had been scalded. But proudly he was returning to his beautiful majestic magnificent beast.

It was a nice October morning when my husband discovered Ivan still in his barrel. Ivan had passed in his sleep. Still sitting the same way as he had when he went to roost the evening before.

He had fought so many battles and was quite a warrior. He died peacefully but too soon. To this day I still wonder why he passed so suddenly. I know the day of his death he had hit the back of my leg as I walked away which he had never done before and tells me something wasn't right. I thought it was odd when he did it. It's a sign of aggression. He'd never shown that towards me but he did that day. He acted like he couldn't see well.

Still unsure of the case of death my best guess is an unseen infection that laid dormant in his lost eye that awoke and aggressively and quickly ended Ivan's short life. I miss that bird to this day.

I still have Czar. He is a beautiful specimen. He looks much different . He has more color brighter color, Ivan was darker. his legs were pearl colored where Czar's are yellow. Czar has thrown many young that look like Ivan. When I see them, my heart stops for an instant and then I realize it's not ivan.

I smile and go on with my chores. Ivan legacy still lives on and for that I am thankful. Gone but not forgotten my friend!

Comments for Ivan the Terrible

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A lovely memorial tribute to Ivan.
by: Cath

What a lovely tribute, Lynn. Ivan sounds like such a special bird. You nursed him back to health so often that it must have been heart-breaking when he died.

But he died peacefully in his sleep, and not in a fight and for that we must be thankful.

Chickens sometimes do die for no apparent reason. It's called "Sudden Chicken Death Syndrome" and I have written an article about it here: https://www.raising-happy-chickens.com/sudden-chicken-death.html

Thank you for sharing such a touching story about Ivan. He will always be remembered.

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