Problems in Chicken Land! Of the seven hens we’ve raised from chicks, one has played us false! Or so my daughter (the birder) speculated upon her arrival home from college. Our one Rhode Island Red, which is a larger breed so we chose the smallest chick in the batch, is showing signs of not being, shall we say, hennish. First of all, she is large. Really big feet. Ever hear the Fats Waller song, Your Feets Too Big? That applies here. Most notably, though, are her tail feathers, which are starting to take on a more colorful life of their own. They are a little longer and have some bluish-green hues in them that hens, well, just don’t care about. She has become a bully to all the others, especially the largest Americauna, Chickpea.
I had attributed the temper to her being a redhead, but apparently there are other explanations. She is developing admirable wattles, which is something I don’t get to say to just anyone. Also, she has very shiny neck feathers, and roosters have an oil gland they use to preen their feathers. However, she hasn’t yet crowed, but Internet research tells us that some crow early, some late, some not at all. Also, she hasn’t grown spurs yet, but the story is the same as the crowing. One chicken site informed us that it was easy to sex Rhode Island Red chicks because the females have a black stripe on their heads.
No stripe on this one, yet if it is so easy to sex them, why was this male in with the females at the store? If indeed she is a male.
So what if she is a he? I don’t know yet. My neighbors would have a fit if I had a crowing rooster in my yard. Rural as it is here, there is a certain peacefulness that rolls across the land and a screaming bird just doesn’t fit in. Also, I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I eat eggs, but not animals, so I don’t want fertile eggs or chicks. Nor do I want my other girls harassed all the time. However, I’ve raised this bird from a day old, and I don’t give over my responsibilities lightly. The hens won’t begin to lay for a couple more months, so I have some time to consider.
I wonder if my vet would fix a chicken?
Here is the whole cast of characters:
Emerson: if our speculation is in error, and she is not a he, but she is a she, then she can assume the name Emily.
Blondie. Not the most original name, but the song Heart of Glass comes to mind whenever I see her. Blondie is Emerson’s chosen consort (another reason Emerson must be a male…. going for the blonds!) UPDATE: Blondie has been renamed Evelyn to move from music to fiction genres. Emerson, Miss Amelia and Eveyln are all characters in Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series.
Lark and Linnet: the youngest chickens by a few weeks, these Barred Rocks pair off and are quite smart. Comparatively. Lark is darker than Linnet.
Miss Amelia: the Silver Wyandotte. Named after the intrepid heroine of Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody historical archeological mysteries. She likes to sit on the highest perch.
Kakapo: the lighter colored Americauna. Her posture and neck feathers are much like the New Zealand bird after which she is named.
Chickpea: the largest Americauna since the beginning, but the most picked upon. Her coloring is dark where Kakapo’s is light. She manages to hide under the others effectively.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another!