The Hen that Wasn’t

We knew that being a chicken-tender had its share of heartbreak opportunities, even if you read every book, consult all the right experts and do everything “right.” Chickens get sick. Predators get wily. Life ain’t easy for chickens, even the coddled pets of vegetarians. That is to say, we have discovered our first chicken heartbreaker.

Oh, Cry-Baby Walker. We paid an extra $1 for her to be sexed at the hatchery. We were given a 90% hen guarantee for our tiny birds, although we always knew that chicken sexing is more art than science. We gave Cry-Baby a gender-bending name, knocking on wood and hoping that she would grow into it more gracefully than a boy named Sue.

You see where this is headed, don’t you? Little Cry-Baby has been displaying some unnerving signs of imminent roosterness: early comb development, thick legs, relatively large body size and “shiny” feathers. Krista, Levi & I have spent months comforting each other about these characteristics. We said things like: Buff Orpington chickens are a large breed. She’s big-boned. Lots of BO hens have very prominent roostery-looking combs. The gender-ambiguity of the Buff Orpington breed helped to perpetuate this grand delusion. We’ve been in denial because, of course, we love her. Er, him. We love him. Levi called us out this weekend. “Come and look at this chicken,” he demanded. Pointing at the adorable fluffy chicken butt, he said, “Those are saddle feathers. Those tail feathers are curling.”

One could make a good case to either keep or eliminate a rooster, and we have gone back and forth about this in our family. One of us sleeps flip-flop schedules for work, and no one likes to be woken up by a rooster if they went to bed at 5am. He hasn’t started to crow yet, but it could start any day. We’re squeamish about fertilized eggs in the omelets. He likes to cuddle now, but our charming cockerel might attack his beloved humans to defend his hens. Ultimately, I think the adults in the household agree that there is not room in our hen house for a rooster.

Having decided that we won’t keep him, our options are slim. We’re hoping to find a home for him in a flock with more open-minded owners. Do you know anyone who would like a very sweet pet rooster? Speak up.


Filed under chickens, summer, urban farming

5 responses to “The Hen that Wasn’t

  1. I know most farm animal sanctuaries are all rooster-ed out because the upswing of backyard coops and unsuccessfully sexed birds is rearing its ugly head in the animal welfare world, but you could try Farm Sanctuary in CA to see if they have any leads on adoptive homes if you can’t find people you know? Sometimes they list adoptive animals on their site.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks for the tip. It looks like they have an email list for adoptable animals. Hopefully someone we know will adopt him (we selfishly maintain delusions of visiting him) but if that doesn’t pan out, it would be good if he found a nice, vegan home.

  2. Ray

    I know you will find him a happy, healthy home. He’s had a beautiful and loving beginning!!!

  3. Lindsay

    Ohh, I found your typed-on picture frantically searching for what saddle feathers look like (funny, though, since I saw your chicks hatch via FB through Lisa B.) because poor Aunt Alexandra is turning out to be Uncle Alexander. And Miss Stephanie is looking more He than She.

    And then…yeah. It happened. Someone crowed yesterday. I have been in similar denial, but there is no ignoring it now. Best of luck to you.

    • Well, google probably knows that you know us, so they prioritized our blog for you? Nice to meet you by the way! I’m sorry to hear you are responsible for some little gentlemen… are you in a position where you can keep one or do you live in a city? We were able to re-home Mr. Baby to a nice horse farm via Craigslist. There is also a lively chicken trade on the Backyard Chickens messageboard. Good luck!

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