Thursday, August 15, 2013

I've Got Chickens On My Mind

You can fool a rooster some of the time, but you can't fool a rooster all of the time. So lemme tell you a story of an urban chick who got it into her head that she wanted to raise chickens. And by "chickens" let me be specific -- I mean two chickens in particular. If you read my Raising Chickens In The Burbs post, you know that my son brought home two baby chicks from his third grade's incubation project. At the time, the sex of the two baby chicks was unknown. I was hoping and praying that Ricki, my white feathered beauty with the rosy comb and waddle, was a hen. It was obvious that my sweet Samantha was a hen. No question. But, Ricki? Welllllll.

I'd convinced myself that I had two egg-laying hens. I so wanted to believe it. That was until a week ago Monday, when at 5:42 a.m. this creepy, croaky sound (like that of an animal being strangled) drifted up from the coop two floors down from my bedroom window. It sounded something like this: cocka-cuu-cu. My eyes snapped open at the strained crow of my Ricki. I knew it was Ricki. Who else could it be? So I waited, holding my breath, watching my husband, hoping he wouldn't wake up. The raspy crowing continued for about fifteen minutes and by six a.m. he was done. This scenario has repeated itself every day since.

5:30 a.m. .... 5:45 a.m. .... 5:20 a.m. I can tell you with certainty that the bird's found his voice.

What's an urban farmer girl to do? Do I keep him and risk having someone call the town to complain about the rooster in my backyard? I decided it would be better for Ricki to go live on a local farm where he'd roam free. I learned later from the friend who arranged the placement that the farm is called BLOOD FARM. Hello. I can't make this stuff up. You don't even want to know what I imagined. We'd decided that the farmer would take Ricki and introduce him to his flock, and in return, I'd get a hen. Then when I learned about the whole business having to do with quarantining a new chicken for up to six weeks to make sure it's not diseased (because it could kill my existing chicken with its bugs), I decided to give up Ricki in exchange for no hen. My Samantha would need to live a solitary life, until I could accommodate quarantine quarters. But then, what about the winter? She'd freeze to death. Even though Ricki bullies her around the coop, they roost practically on top of each other. He's her bud.

Could this story get any longer? So here's what happened next. It was the night before Ricki was supposed to go away, when I had an idea. Why not cover the coop at night and trick the rooster into believing it's still night when he rouses? So I did. With a half dozen Glad trash bags that I taped into the shape of a big blanket. I covered every inch of the coop, leaving the bottoms loose for the free-flow of air, and crossed my fingers. Wouldn't you know it? Ricki did not crow the next morning until I removed the cover from his coop at a more suitable time, like 7:30 a.m. I was ecstatic, jumping up and down in the kitchen in my pajamas, while my husband held his coffee mug and shook his head. He does that a lot.

Later that afternoon I texted my friend and told him I was going to keep my rooster because I'd solved the crowing issue.

Do you think the ruse worked the following morning?


Tonight the door into the enclosed part of the coop is closed enough to block Ricki's exit in the a.m. AND the coop is covered with my Glad bag invention.

We'll see what the morning brings.

(Samantha's now laying eggs :-)