Sunday, August 13, 2017

Do the Funky Chicken

We added to our flock of chickens this spring with three chicks; one White Barred Plymouth Rock and two Ameraucanas, the breed that was derived from the blue egg laying Araucanas. They spent the spring and early summer in our garage with the normal chick accoutrements: a heat lamp, a thermometer to make sure they stayed at the right temperature, food to scatter all over the cage and water to scatter the food in.

The three progressed nicely, with the White Barred Plymouth Rock leading the pack in height and overall size. We thought she may have been a day or two older than the Ameraucanas, one of which was now distinctly more brown while the other was more black in color.

The chickens eventually moved from the small cage in the garage to the new hen house and run built just for them. Once fully mature, they could be integrated into the existing flock, but until they sized up it was to their benefit to keep them separated from the older girls.

We tossed around names and finally settled on MacHenna (the mostly brown Ameraucana), Beatrix Clucker (the mostly black Ameraucana) and Gertrude (the White Barred Plymouth Rock). Gertrude continued to be the big chicken on campus, but since the White Barred Plymouth Rock is a popular dual-purpose chicken (laying or meat) with a long, broad body and a moderately deep breast, the fact that she towered over her bunk-mates didn't worry us...much.

The chicks, purchased at a local store, were all supposed to be all hens. Chicken sexing is an art, and people who do this as a profession can command up to several thousand dollars per day. Some breeds are easy to sex: males hatch out a different color than females. For most breeds, sexers look at the size and shape of their wing feathers or peek inside their "vent" to see barely visible tell-tale signs. Maybe TMI, but that's how it works.

Despite collecting big bucks for their work, these professionals are not 100% accurate; as they say in the chick sexing business, "roosters happen." What sounded like a few small crows erupted from Gertrude, but still we pressed on, waiting to see what happened. When we actually witnessed a crow from her, I mean his lips, I mean beak, well, that settled that. Gertrude became Gordon and we worked on finding him a new home.

I started with Craigslist and a typical (for me, anyway) posting, which was flagged for removal. Of course, no one could tell me exactly why it was flagged, so I was left to reach out to the forums for guidance. One responder told me I should have posted in a different category, while another told me that yet a different category was the right one. Still another said I needed to decide if Gordon was a pet or available for eating, as it would make a difference on what category to use. I explained we had a "don't ask, don't tell" re-homing policy, as who am I to tell someone what they can or can't do with a chicken? This is America, for crying out loud.

Another said my ad was too long while yet another indicated that discussing the local municipal code that says it is unlawful to keep or maintain a rooster in the city limits was inappropriate. I brought up the municipal code to bring context to needing a new home for Gordon before the neighbors began to complain or "the man" came to get him. And how can a mere 370 words of an entertaining chicken story be too long?

Should I have flagged the garage sale add that included "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" because it didn't indicate that was copyrighted material? What about the ads that spell pallet incorrectly? Or the guy giving away bees that took up residence in his patio...can you give away something you don't own?

Cindy contacted the original source of the chicks and they were happy to take Gordon to their ranch where he can presumably live out his life having a great time with lots of hens, so that part of the story has ended. Being flagged on Craigslist...that's gonna take a while to get over.

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