As promised, here’s the much-anticipated chicken update. First off, the current count: 23. We had 24 birds as of about a week ago, but we’ve recently gone down by one. We do know who’s gone: a silver pencilled rock rooster. We do not know how he disappeared. He’s either been eaten by something that wasn’t us, or (and this is my preferred theory) he’s gone feral and will eventually return with stories of fame, glory, and fortunes won and lost. Either way, it’s a shame that one of the better looking birds has gone missing.
In the picture above, you can see one of our fake campines, so called because they are not actually campines but convinced us that they were for the first many weeks of their feathered lives. Campines are fairly useful birds, scrawny but good layers. Modern game birds, their rather unimaginative real breed, were raised purely for their looks, making them some of the less-useful birds that we’ve got. Note the longer legs and slim body. If aliens were going to impersonate a barnyard animal and take over the world, it would probably be a modern game bird. We’re keeping an eye on them.
In the center/bottom of top picture is Little Dick, so named because of his resemblance to a certain former Vice President early on in his life. The pointed nose and close set eyes made him look like a long-lost feathered brother. He also picked on the other chicks quite a bit, so the name was a nice little double entendre. Little Dick’s one of the more attractive roosters, which will probably keep him off the chopping block for a bit.
Above Little Dick is the cochin, a Chinese breed which should be good and meaty. He’s got feathered legs, making it look like he’s wearing chaps when he gallops. Yes, gallops. He doesn’t seem quite capable of a normal chicken run, but he does seem terribly capable of being delicious.
I mentioned previously that there was some drama in the hen house, and this guy is the culprit. The cuckoo maran rooster has really taken over the joint. He patrols the roosts at night, making sure everyone’s in their spot, pecking at chickens that he thinks need to move. By day, he beats up on other troublemakers. If you hear *SQUAWKSQUAWK* during the day, it’s very probably this guy trying to maintain order by latching on to someone else’s neck.
The drama comes in around night time. The cuckoo maran has a penchant for kicking people out of the coop, namely the white polish rooster, who can be a little aggressive with the ladies. (I always visualize him running around a la Benny Hill.) The white polish has spent a number of nights outside the coop, either in various trees or under the deck.
(HEADS UP: Vegetarians should skip the rest of this and leave a comment on how cute the chickens are.)
The upside to the polish chicken drama is that it pretty quickly solved a conundrum that we were trying to solve: who gets eaten first? At first we thought the cuckoo maran should go, but then we realized he’s got the traits you want in a good rooster. Or at least we think so, with all of three months of chicken rearing experience under our belts. He keeps eyes on everyone, keeps the other roosters in line, and doesn’t hesitate to protect the hens. But he’s also gentle towards people.
So that leaves an obvious choice: the white polish. He’s got a crow that sounds more like a velociraptor screech, he is constantly in trouble, and the big white mop top makes him an easy target for something else to eat. We figure that means we should get to him first.
That wraps up this week’s chicken soap opera. If anyone’s got experience offing chickens, your advice would be welcome. If you would like to be around for the festivities this week, drop us a line. And if you’ve got any thoughts about whether the cuckoo maran’s behavior makes for a good rooster or a bad one, leave a comment and let us know.