Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Rooster, Juanita

Photo: Dominique Club of America

I have come to the realization that our four Dominicker hens are not all, well, hens.

I'd bought the four chicks with the understanding that they were pullets -- i.e., they were females, and would all grow up to be hens.  This was critical to my keeping a stealth flock, as a rooster would announce their presence to the world beyond our Angle, frequently and often.  I paid $4.50 each for the chicks, and turned down the offer of the owner of the General Merchantile (that's really its name, though the owner is not Ike Godsey) for a rooster chick (a cockerel) for $2.50.

Not long after we got them home, we noticed that one of the chicks had a bit more yellow about its head than the others, was bigger, and a bit more of a bully.  But the other three gradually outgrew it, until it was a runt.  But it kept its lighter markings, and its impolite ways.  Weeks passed, and as all the chicks began to develop their combs and wattles, well, the runt began to put on a real good comb.  But I/we brushed it off, and I confidently named the chicks Aunt Bea (the largest), Helen (the darkest), Thelma Lou (the daintiest), and Juanita (the runt). 

(Yeah, we're big fans of The Andy Griffith Show here.  "We" meaning me.)

Well, Juanita's comb kept on growing, and though the bird's temperament has eased somewhat, we can no longer ignore the obvious:  Juanita is a cockerel.  He's not tried to crow yet, but any day now I expect to hear a sound like a rusty hinge being strangled (Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, p. 2.38:  "Cockerels") coming from the sunroom.

This puts us in a dilemna.  I absolutely cannot pasture this bird, or we may have neighbors complain, and my outlaw status compromised.  Compounding the predicament is the fact that Adrienne (my wife) and Belle (my daughter) have become very attached to the flock.  Even Jaunita has come to exhibit the tameness I described in my previous essay, though he does peck a little harder than the hens.  So I can't keep this bird out with the pullets in the poultry yard I've painstakingly made over the past year.  Neither can I simply give him away, not without wailing and gnashing of teeth from the fam-damily. 

Therefore, the rooster, Juanita, will essentially become the Prisoner of Zenda, when the time comes:  that is, he'll be confined permanently to the coop.  Hopefully it will muffle his crows enough that he will not cause a problem.  One positive:  if this ploy is successful, then I may be able to use the coop to keep roosters, and be able to actually raise chickens here within the city limits.  What a wonderful IN-YO-FACE! to the Laurel city apparatchiks.

This whole chicken business is becoming addictive.

Image:  Dominique Club of America

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Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"