Today was a hard day. Turkey, the chicken we were most fearful was a rooster, turned out to definitely be a rooster, and was picked up today to go back to the farm. Now, before you ask, no, that’s not a euphemism for Turkey being sent to chicken heaven. He actually gets to go back to the farm he came from and live out his entire life with the laying hens. There’s also the possibility that someone looking for a rooster may choose him for their flock.
While all of these things are reassuring, they don’t help ease the pain of saying goodbye to our little feathered friend with his crooked toes. I remember when I was giving him “chicken physical therapy” because he was having trouble walking. He was almost named “Awkward” because of his lack of coordination.
Saturday morning, as I made my way downstairs, I heard a clear and definite “cock-a-doodle-doo!”. I hurried in horror to the cage and nervously stared at the chicks, waiting to see who would give themselves away as a rooster when Turkey tilted back his head and let out another roaring crow. Then again. And again.
I had been denying for weeks that Turkey was in fact a rooster, but he decided to go ahead and prove me wrong. That Monday I arranged with the farm to have him picked up and prepared to say goodbye.
Additionally, my fears about some of the other shes actually being hes, have not been eased and have only grown over the last weeks. Though George looks nice and big and puffy and chicken shaped, his personality is still full of rooster characteristics and his comb and wattles are pretty pink. Chipmunk is looking more male as well as time progresses. His comb seems to grow daily and is also pretty pink in color.
Time will only tell for these two, but I’m really crossing my fingers for females.
Now, onto our new arrivals.
At noon today, the doorbell rang, and waiting on the other side was a friendly looking guy in a bleach stained green shirt, displaying the logo of Dare 2 Dream farms. In each arm, he was holding a small pullet like two little footballs. One was an Easter Egger (same as Turkey) and the other a Rhode Island Red. I guided him inside and toward the cage which would be their new home. The little chickens were clearly stressed and tired and possibly a bit scared. They went into chicken shut down mode and simply sat on the floor of the cage.
The two of us looked at the cage, discussing who could be male and who could be female and he agreed that Chipmunk and George looked fairly male, but that it was a bit too early to tell at this point.
Then, it was time to hand over Turkey and say goodbye. I picked him up and he calmly sat on my arm and in my lap and let me pet him. Reluctantly, I passed him over to the nice Dare 2 Dreams man. Turkey didn’t even put up a fight.
Goodbyes are soul crushing when its to a human, but when you’re handing over your feathered child, it somehow strikes a different chord. I did my best not to cry, and told myself it was for the best.
Since then, the other four chickens have been horribly cruel in establishing their pecking order with the new arrivals. They peck at the top of their heads, causing them to scream and pluck out feathers where they can. I’ve seen my beloved babies turn into monsters. But I keep telling myself it’s part of their complex social structure and they aren’t being mean, as humans understand it, but establishing social order in the manner which chickens simply do.
Our two new arrivals, Rhode Island Red (left) and Easter Egger (right)
I know that as time presses on, these new initiates will fit in just fine. My hardest work will be to put in the same love and care into these two new babies and try to acclimate them to human touch so that they have the same easy going nature as even our biggest and rowdiest boy, Turkey.