Thursday, July 5, 2007

worried we've got ourselves a cockerel

We left the chooks alone again overnight as the family spent another night up in Sonoma County at Safari West. My folks were in town, and we gave them the whole safari experience (overnight stay in a safari tent and early morning tour) as a 40th anniversary present.

We had a great time up in Sonoma, including stops at some wineries, and wouldn't you know it, I kept seeing chickens in unexpected places. I'm getting the feeling my finding chickens everywhere closely parallels the phenomenon of buying a car and all the sudden noticing the same make and model everywhere you drive. In my case, however, I'm paying a lot closer attention to what adult birds look like and mentally sizing up the maturity gap that Sophia and ZsuZsu must cover before they become "adults."

So on our trip to Sonoma, I saw a handful of roosters, and each rooster sighting made my stomach sink a little further thinking our Sophia is actually a cockerel, not a pullet as I'd thought.

Upon arriving home from our trip, I went out to their crate and let them out so they could again decimate the backyard bug population and watched and listened carefully to Sophia as she led ZsuZsu on their bug-finding zigzag across the yard.

While ZsuZsu emits a stead cheep-cheep as she pecks around, our Sophia sounds a lot more cluck-cluck-ish. Not quite the archetypal cluck of a full-grown chicken, but nowhere near to sounding like the cheep of a young bird. Come to think of it, I haven't heard a cheep out of Sophia in a long while now.

And this morning, as I was drinking my coffee on the deck overlooking the yard, I could've sworn I heard a first attempt at a loud squawk out of Sophia. No, not close to being the cock-a-doodle-doo crowing I'd heard from the roosters in Sonoma, but enough to make my stomach sink again.

Methinks it's time to actually put some energy into planning what to do if Sophia turns out to be a Sean. No roosters in Redwood City, yet no single hens, either.

I'll keep you posted.


rwcmick said...

Hi there,

I'm keeping an eye on your experiences. I'm in RWC as well, on the Alameda, and have for years longed to have a couple of chickens. However, the Mrs. has been, uh, very hesitant to authorize any such endeavor. I think it might be neat for our son to experience a bit of the old farm life. I raised chickens years ago in Oregon and found it quite fun (I had 20 or so Araucanas). If nothing else I can live vicariously through your flock.


ThomasK said...

Hey Michael,

Great to hear from you, and welcome to the blog! Sounds like you're just a couple blocks away from us. We're over on the hill by John Gill Elementary School.

Here's hoping we can set an example that will help your Mrs. over her hesitance.

See you in the neighborhood!

Laura said...

you may be okay - I have a hen that's pretty dang loud. My neighbor is convinced she's really a rooster, but as she lays a large brown egg every day I know he's wrong.

I'll have to try the grape trick with my girls - hadn't thought of that yet...

ThomasK said...

Laura, I'm so happy to hear you say you've got a loud hen!

I think we're within 60 days of getting our first egg(s), so the proof will be in the laying.

Any other been-there-done-that insights out there on how to tell the difference between pullets and cockerels pre-lay/pre-crow?

Laura said...

Watch them when they're standing still - it's easier since they're the same breed. Do they both stand the same way? If you've got a rooster, he'll be standing taller, more upright. The hen's body will be more horizontal, with her breast running almost parallel to the ground.

That should have been the dead giveaway on the last rooster I ended up with, but I didn't know what I was looking for. You can spot that anywhere after about 8 weeks of age.

ThomasK said...

Thanks for the tip on how to tell the difference, Laura.

I've done my best to notice a distinction between how they stand still, but unless I'm to be looking for something extremely subtle, I don't see any difference between the two.

Here's hoping that means we have to pullets!

RoseHawke said...

Good day, I ran across your blog after doing a Google for "urban chickens" I wonder why it came up :-) (I'm being facetious here.) I agree you've probably nothing to worry about. It's been my experience that straight combed breeds start showing secondary characteristics such as the pointed saddle feathers and larger comb and wattles at least by about 3 months of age. They get pretty obvious really. Yours do look like pullets. Hopefully you'll have better luck with your Barred Rocks than I ever had with the Silver-laced Wyandotte I had which never laid any eggs :-(. Gorgeous and friendly bird, but definitely just a pet as she certainly wasn't earning her keep. Unless you count the content that chickens can bring you of course. Good luck with them!

ThomasK said...

Thanks for the comment, Rose... and glad to know the title of the blog helps with Google results ;^)

I'm glad to hear your assessment of the pullet/cockerel indecision. I'm amazed that the combs and wattles haven't grown any more after their initial spurt. And they're both stuck at about the same size... so that lends credence to the "two pullets" vote!

Here's hoping we've got a couple laying hens on our hands. Yes, they're fun as pets, but (YUM!) I do love a fresh egg.

hunny8801 said...

My daughter Annabelle had been learning about farm animals at school. Her teacher decided it would be a treat to hatch some eggs for the class. At the end each student could purchase a chick for a dollar with their parent's permission of course. I bought one for my daughter(6 years old) and was planning on donating it to a farm when it got a little bigger. 3-5 months later Annabelle is very attached to it and it loves to follow her around! I don't know what kind of chicken or rooster I have and I don't even know what it is, a chicken or a rooster. If anyone has some advice about this I sure would appreciate it. I now plan on keeping this animal in a large pen outside and am looking into purchasing "friends" so it's not alone. but before I do that I'd like to know what I have first. My email address is HUNNY8801@HOTMAIL.COM


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