The New Rooster  -  2013-09-06 next>>

Of the 17 chicks that we bought in the spring, one of them started to develop a little differently than the rest. Bigger comb and wattles, sturdier legs, wider chest, tail feathers that were plumey rather than straight up like little rudders. Since there was no older rooster around for him to emulate, he hung out with and behaved like his 16 sisters (not biological sisters, of course). He acted like a hen, talked like a hen, thought like a hen, and no one told him any different. It was funny to watch, because he was clearly a little rooster, but he was humble and timid - not very roosterly qualities. Even when he started crowing he still thought he was a hen. The hens themselves were beginning to think of themselves as little adults; they spent a lot of time thinking about sex and eggs, and sitting on little nests... developmentally the little rooster was soooo far behind!

Over a period of time we saw him start to be attracted to the hens, which confused him. He was attracted, but wasn't sure why or what to do about it - not to mention that snuggling up to the older hens would earn him a good pecking that would send him flying. This lasted for a VERY long time, to the point that I wondered if he would ever become an effective rooster. He got put in his place so many times by the older hens who were used to not having a rooster around, and who thought that was a fine state of affairs.

Finally last weekend I was sitting on their stoop holding the old henny (the one that lived in the greenhouse all winter) when the rooster came out of the yard. For the first time he didn't just go running off; he circled back around, cocked his head, and gave the situation a good look. Clearly he didn't think it was appropriate for me to be holding a hen, and he didn't much like it. He evaluated his options... and ran off to jump on one of the young hens who was standing around! That was a little bit of a surprise to all of us... me, him, and definitely the hen!

So I guess he has jump started into his roosterly duties, which he now takes very seriously. He's all about providing his services, whether then hens want them or not... his crowing is getting better, and he is developing into a fine looking rooster. He is glossy black with iridescent green highlights, a big plume of a tail, and the broadest chest I've ever seen on a rooster. He hasn't quite figured out what our relationship is, so for now we studiously ignore each other.

Times be a-changing in yon ol' henhouse!