Photo by Audrey Pavia
When I decided to let one of my hens hatch three eggs a few months ago, I had my fingers crossed that I’d get all girls. I knew that was unlikely, so I decided I’d be happy with two. It turns out I didn’t even get that.
One little white chick, who I named Liberty, was so tiny and frail, I thought for sure this baby was a hen; turns out, Liberty is a boy. His tail is starting to plume, his wattles are growing, and he repeatedly spars with his brother.
Yes, his brother. Henryfonda is his name, and he also turned out to be a rooster. I discovered this a few weeks ago, before he actually started to look like a rooster. I heard a hoarse, pathetic crow, and turned around to see this little reddish roo perched on a fence bellowing out his version of “good morning.”
So, of the three chicks that hatched, I only got one hen.
I’ve noticed that Liberty and Henryfonda spend a lot of time together, away from the flock. They still put themselves to bed in the coop with the rest of the birds, but during the day, the two young bachelors are off on their own most of the time. Although Mr. Mabel, my dominant rooster, is tolerating the two boys, I have to wonder how long it will be before things get ugly.
I suspect it will be spring. As soon as the days start become longer and the flowers begin to bloom, young roosters’ thoughts turn to love, and fights are bound to follow.
Few things are as horrible to watch as a cockfight. The birds go at each other with great fury, drawing blood and doing a lot of damage. A wise chicken keeper once told me that it’s best to let them work it out between them, and that everyone will find their place in the end. Meanwhile, I find it impossible to stand by and watch while my birds tear at each other. I turn the hose on them when I see them fighting, since this seems to be the only way to break it up.
I’m hoping against hope that these young males don’t decide to challenge Mr. Mabel come spring. Meanwhile, all I can do right now is sit back and enjoy watching them grow.