Another One Bites the Dust

by Stefani on 10-June-2008

It would be funny, if it wasn't so very NOT funny. 

You know, after that whole Rosemary thing, we had a few bits of good news to hang our hats upon… we were about to go on vacation, Rosie had a good home, we would get to visit him/her and all of our other chickens were girls. 

The only remaining chickens we had were from the feed store bin marked as "all female," save for Hazel who has "girl" written all over her. 

So, off we went to the beach, content chicken farmers. 

But then…

We came home, ran right out back, first thing out of the car, to check on our babies, and we were greeted with our Pearl, up on the roost, head thrown back, making the most gosh awful, strangled turkey vocalizations you can imagine. 

"She's just overcome with joy to see us," I told myself, "She'll never do that again. Never. You hear me Pearl? NEVER!"

Pearl(eone)

Then we let them out to run around the yard and saw that she had grown this "sticky uppy" feather!

His Big Boy Feather

Nah, that's not a rooster feather. Maybe she just bent it or slept on it funny or something. That's it, she's just got bed feathers.

Riiiiiiight. 

I checked her feet for spurs. Hmmmmm no, those little bumpy nodules are not spurs in the making. Must be mosquito bites – exact mirror image mosquito bites, exactly where spurs would appear, were she a rooster, which she is NOT. 

Next morning, same hideous strangled noises. Morning after that… slightly less hideous, still rather strangled, almost crows. 

At this point, I was telling myself that the reason the crowing sounds so bad is because it is a GIRL chicken trying and failing to sound like a BOY chicken. 

We've had chickens before, years ago, and I know first hand that hens can make a good bit of noise too, so surely that's it. Just a loud hen.

 On Monday morning, there was no longer any room for denials. Our lovely, dainty little baby Pearl,

Pearl In Papa's Hands 

has grown to be a beautiful, glorious, crowing young man. 

Mr. Big Stuff

We changed his name to Pearleone (we thought it sounded rather Spanish Explorer-ish) and took him to live with Rosemary. (Incidentally, Ryder still refuses to call him/her anything but Rosemary – not Rosco, not Rosamond, not even Rosemartine. It's Rosemary!)

We felt pretty good about it, really… at least they'd have each other. In fact, there was no crying this time, just the resigned knowledge that this is what we have to do with roosters. 

Now here is where it gets utterly and completely ridiculous.

 Off to the farm we go with Pearl. We watch, grinning, his reunion with Rosemary. We're feeling all warm and fuzzy until we hear that the owners have yet to hear Rosie crow. Not a peep! In fact they have their doubts that it's a rooster.

They agree fully that Pearl is, but Rose… well, maybe. 

What??? 

I know, I KNOW that I not only heard, but SAW that chicken cockadoodledoo. Not a squawk, not a bawk, a real, red white and blue COCKADOODLE DOO! 

They just looked at me and smiled and said, "Well, maybe…" in exactly the way I say, "okay honey, let me check the closet. You're right, there just MIGHT be a monster in there." 

Now I ask you, what is going on here? Were my chickens putting on a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac in the backyard or WHAT? 

I don't even know what to say. 

They offered to let us take Rosie home and see if we heard anything more, but we opted to let him/her stay on, at least for now, to keep Pearl company. It's easier to be the new chicken on the block if you've got another newbie wing man(woman).

They said if Rosie began asking for a cell phone and to be dropped off at the mall, or wearing bows and lipstick, they'd let us know. 

And so we wait. And I don't even know what to hope… that it's a girl and we get to bring home our beloved Rosemary? That it's a boy, so I don't look like a complete idiot? 

I will tell you this – I came right home from the farm, marched right out to the coop and gave our remaining three ladies a stern talking to. There will be no more of this. There will be no more growing of rooster feathers, no more attempts at crowing, no more maleness.

I told them that I now have three boys, and three girls and if only I had Alice, I'd be reasonably happy playing Brady Bunch, so DON'T get any funny ideas! 

You know, I feel a lot like I did when I had my first baby – sure that I was making all kinds of mistakes, and wondering who on earth thought it was a good idea that *I* be in charge of this little life. 

Just who entrusted me with these chickens anyhow? I clearly don't have the first clue what I'm doing. 

Sarah June 10, 2008 at 7:14 am

This whole chicken/rooster saga has been hilarious – I mean heartbreaking. I thought the Rosemary story was great, but Pearleone?! I look forward to any and all future “developments.”

kristin June 10, 2008 at 7:15 am

no. way.

amanda June 10, 2008 at 7:15 am

oh goodness! How puzzling! And funny, but not funny, too. 😉 Be sure to keep talking to those three girls – reminding them of just who they are. Goodness!!!

kirsten June 10, 2008 at 7:25 am

oh goodness – it’s a good thing you got more than just one chick for each boy – you needed a couple of spares!

Natalie June 10, 2008 at 7:40 am

Oh dear… this post is beautiful and hilarious and really, really nerve wracking. I swear I convince myself that 1 or 2 or all 3 of our “90% guarantee girl” chicks is going rooster! It happened the first time we brought home chicks… the bitty runt of the bunch grew massive! The tension, the suspense! Yikes!

Stash June 10, 2008 at 7:49 am

As much as I hate to laugh at someone else’s expense, these chicken posts are like, well, kind of like chicken soup for the soul. Just what I needed.

molly June 10, 2008 at 7:51 am

oh the chicken drama! I love it. I mean, I hate it. I mean….

But, see? When we get our chickens, I’ll be coming to you, the “experienced chicken owner” for advice…

heather June 10, 2008 at 8:04 am

Oooooh, Noooo! Well…if it turns out that way three girls and three boys will be quite wonderful. If not…maybe Rosie can be Alice.

OMSH June 10, 2008 at 9:35 am

I feel it is perfectly alright that Rosemary not become Rosamond or Roger or whatever because we have a hen named Kenneth Scott Sanders and really, you don’t get more MALE than that.

We’ve yet to hear a crow from Grace, but if there was a rooster in our bunch, she’d be it.

I see a tire swing.
A TIRE SWING.
sooooo jealous

Kathy June 10, 2008 at 9:53 am

Just wanted to say that I love your blog! I remember reading somewhere in your blog that you are in Austin (or I picked it up by the pictures?) We are too–I had no idea that I could even entertain the idea of having a chicken in the city 🙂 I’m going to have to look into it! I grew up with a slew of animals (chickens included) and I don’t want my kids to miss that part of childhood.

Jennifer June 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

I know you don’t think you know what your doing but either do we! You could tell me anything about your chickens and I’d believe you, but it is such an entertaining process to watch!

Berlinswhimsy June 10, 2008 at 10:41 am

I know what you’re going through! It’s hard to tell, especially if you’re new at it.

I found this site: http://www.backyardchickens.com very helpful. I went onto their forums (register first) and asked my question about our chickens. Some of the very helpful (and more experienced) members replied with things to look for in roosters as compared to hens. Other members have posted photos for the others to determine the sex of their young chickens…

Good luck and I don’t know what you should wish for, either! I hope you keep us posted.

gonzomama June 10, 2008 at 10:47 am

oh my! well she does make a very handsome rooster!

Mama Urchin June 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I’m so sorry but I’m totally cracking up about this. It’s a Shakespearean comedy in the making.

christi June 10, 2008 at 5:37 pm

wah! that would be horrible to find your lady chickens were men! i hope that Rosemary gets to come home, maybe she/he isn’t crowing because she misses her real home?
good luck with the rest of your chicken babies!

Stephanie June 11, 2008 at 5:57 am

Sorry, but I find this absolutely hilarious. I’m only a city girl, so the only thing I know about hens is that I love fresh eggs!

Maybe Rosemary is a turkey.

erin June 11, 2008 at 10:48 am

this has the makings of a very good soap opera.

sorry about pearl.

Nicola June 11, 2008 at 8:56 pm

After 17 years of living with the chickens in a rural area and having city friends who want chickens (only the girls mind you) so I give them some girls and lo and behold the head hen will start to crow. She will still lay eggs, however she will have the top roost and she will CROW. Strange but true. Hope this helps.

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