I lived in various homes outside town while growing up, but I’m not quite what you would consider to be a country girl. The Husband, on the other hand, grew up on a farm. He always takes pleasure in making fun of me for my lack of knowledge in all things farm-related. The chickens have given him plenty of opportunities to do that.
Before we even got the chickens, he had to give me a lesson on chicken reproduction. I was under the impression that baby chickens are created through some form of external fertilization – the hen lays the egg and leaves the scene, then when he has time, the rooster comes along and does something to it to fertilize it. Apparently this is completely incorrect, and The Husband took great pains to make sure I fully understood my own ignorance:
What did you think? The rooster came along and stuck his penis in a hard eggshell? That is ridiculous.
Doesn’t really seem that much more ridiculous than a couple of chickens getting frisky, but whatever.
Anyway, I’ve learned a lot about chickens since we’ve gotten them. I’ve learned that you have to spend a bunch of money on a chicken coop, feed, and bedding and you have to love and care for them for months before you ever get a single egg when you can buy an entire carton of eggs at the grocery store for less than a dollar. And we really don’t even use that many eggs at our house because frozen lasagna and Hamburger Helper do not call for eggs. I’ve learned that they smell and that while they seem to be incredibly stupid, they still manage to open the pen door with a broken latch every day and that, as a group, they are strong enough to open it even if you sit a bucket in front of it. I’ve learned that their poop turns to cement and it is much too big of a job for a 6 and 7 year old to clean the coop, which gets me involved in a whole host of things that I didn’t sign up for (I should mention that I didn’t actually sign up to participate in any chicken work. I just came home one day and there was a box full of chicks in the garage).
So this morning, I’m walking around outside enjoying the fresh air. If you want the truth, I thought I heard a kitten in the trees so I was trying to find it because who doesn’t love a snuggly kitten? Apparently it was just a bird or I was hallucinating, but while I was out there, I heard the standard textbook morning rooster crowing sound. I quickly went through the verses of Old MacDonald in my head, thought through every children’s book I’d ever read, and mentally reviewed various parts of Charlotte’s Web and I couldn’t come up with anything to suggest that a hen should make that particular sound – only a rooster. And based on my previous chicken sex education lesson, I knew there should not be a rooster in the chicken coop. I hid behind the coop for about 10 minutes trying to make a voice memo of it on my iPhone to play for The Husband, because I’m pretty sure that’s what most farm wives would do, but then it stopped.
This seemed like a chicken emergency to me. There could possibly be a male chicken in the coop, victimizing our female chickens with his disgusting chicken sperm, which is going to cause us to end up with additional chickens to care for and still no stupid eggs, which is supposed to be the point of this whole thing. The Husband works third shift so he had just gone to bed, but this seemed like a big enough deal to bring to his attention immediately. He disagreed, so I guess this potential rooster can enjoy a few more days with the girls until The Husband’s day off.
Update: Google says that sometimes one female chicken will become dominant and can make the crowing sound so perhaps this hen is just choosing to identify as a rooster.