Thursday, June 25, 2009

Maybe we should have named him Lola

And his theme could have been "Dude Looks Like a Lady". Or at least he did for a long time. See, here's the thing about chicks. They are all essentially adorable balls of fluff completely indistinguishable as male or female. I mean there are some breeding tricks that will make the males or females of a specific mating easy to spot, but for most breeds, the sorting is left to a talented group of people called chicken sexers. They take a quick peek in the chick's "vent" and decide if it looks manly or not. This is really more of an art than a science, but most chicken sexers boast about 90% accuracy.

So why am I not at all surprised that one of the four chicks I selected ended up being a boy despite being sexed as a girl (that sounds so kinky, but it isn't kinky at all!)? I became suspicious about two weeks ago when the comb on Chicky seemed to be bigger and pinker than Chicky-chicky-chicky's. They're the same breed, so they should be about the same. My heart sunk and I thought, ok crap, it's a rooster. So I did some quick internet exploration and found that most likely this she was really a he. But, chickens being tricky things, there is really no way to know for sure until other indicators appear. Pointy feathers, sickle feathers in the tail, or the trademark cock-a-doodle-doo! So even with the first indications that this was a he in she's clothing, I had to wait. And I'm not very good at waiting.

If we lived on a farm, or if we were morning people who also hated all of our neighbors, having a rooster wouldn't be an issue. But living in a city, near people we might want to be friends with despite our long and messy construction projects going on in the yard, having a loud rooster crowing brightly every morning is not a good thing. It also wouldn't be so hot for the three other hens. As I learned in my chicken class, roosters are a very horny lot. They like lots of hot chicken sex, and with just three hens to molest, the hens would pay a high price. They would feel harassed, they might lose feathers from the rough treatment and they might even quit laying due to the trauma. So, the rooster thing is a big deal for us. We simply cannot have a rooster.

So, there's really about a 50/50 chance any chick, if they are not sexed, will be a rooster. What happens to all of those male chickens you ask? Well, apparently they are very tasty. And those that don't end up on the table may be part of a flock as long as there are enough hens per roo, and in that case their lives can be pretty sweet. Anyhow,I started thinking about what we would do if my fears were realized. And then I started trying to calm these fears. I mean, 90% chance he is a she, right? And fine, the comb was big and pink and being a rooster would explain a lot of Chicky's behavior, but it is just me being paranoid. And so went my mind for the past two weeks.

Then I noticed an iridescent feather in the slightly too sickle feathered tail. And I knew. I couldn't rationalize that. It's a rooster trait. Combined with all of the other hints I was forcing myself to ignore, it was irrefutable. So I broke the news to Big Dog, and set out to find a home for our little boy chicken.

That was easier than expected. I thought it would take at least a week, so on Monday I posted a craigslist ad offering this rooster to anyone who would offer him a good home and promised not to pop him in a stock pot. My expectations were low. There were multiple other roosters up for cheap sale from city chicken people in the same situation. Imagine my surprise when I got an email about 2 hours later from a guy looking for roosters for his flock. He offered Chicky a good life with lots of hens and space to roam where his soon to come cock-a-doodle-doos wouldn't be a problem. We made arrangements for me to drop him off, and the deal was done.

Once again, I broke the news to Big Dog. He took it better than I expected. No tears, a bit of sadness and a little confusion as to why he would need so many hens "to play with", but he was more or less ok with him finding a home where he could be really happy.

Tonight I packed Chicky into Dashiell's old dog crate, and the family drove out to his new home. His new owner is a really nice guy, he has a 10 year old son who was as sweet and polite as I hope my boys will be at that age. The chickens are being raised at a place offers horse and pony rides. There was a big garden, an artifical pond and lots of space to roam. I couldn't have imagined a better environment for my little rooster. I was so pleased and amazingly relieved. He showed us where Chicky would be living, promised the boys they could come and visit (with a whispered aside to me that he had lost chickens before to hawks or foxes, so that was always a possibility) and Chicky officially became part of his flock.

I wish him all of the happiness in the chicken world. He was never the most friendly of the chicks, and was never my favorite, but he was a part of our tiny flock for a short while. I feel a little sad we had to give him up. I'm such a sentimental fool.


mamikaze said...

I giggled so hard to myself when I saw your tweets about this because the first thing that popped into my head was "whose cock is it?"

followthatdog said...

Oh yea, we'd taken to calling him "Cocky" around here. We were right with cock jokes. We're really highbrow.

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