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Another Day in the Country

What are the odds?

© Another Day in the Country

Whenever I order chicks from my favorite mail-order source, I figure the odds to be one in 20 that a batch of pullets would contain at least one rooster.

The odds they brag about in the chicken catalog are closer to one in 50, but that’s not been my experience.

When they offer a free “mystery chick,” I usually check the box “yes” because I love surprises.

“Twenty chicks,” I’m figuring, “all supposedly girls, and one mystery-chick rooster!”

This summer, when my grandson and I started the California Branch of Extra Ordinary Chickens, we selected pullets for our flock. You may recall that each chicken was a different breed: White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Golden Bantam, Easter Egger, Silver-Laced Wyandot, and Black Astrolop.

Our first clue about a possible rooster among our clutch of girl chicks was aggression. The minute we introduced our three slightly younger chicks from the feed store in Napa to three older chicks we already had purchased in Santa Rosa, our youngest, newly named “Penny” (since she looked like a penguin), challenged our long-legged, slightly older, lots bigger, Rhode Island Red named Rhett. 

From our five-month vantage point, we should have guessed, we say now; but what are the odds that out of six pullets we’d find ourselves with not one but two roosters?

During these last four months the gender of the fast-growing chickens has been the phone call agenda, beginning with my grandson’s “we have an emergency” call to his mom at work. The emergency was that he heard crowing.

A month or so later, the call came to me.

“We think we heard two different chickens trying to crow, Baba.”

Pictures were sent from California to Kansas with captions like, “Look at Penny’s new tail feathers. Is she by chance, a rooster?” and “Check out Rhett, twice as big as the others.”

When I arrived for Christmas vacation, my first “show and tell” was at dawn, and I confirmed not one, but two roosters.

Those are terrible odds — one in three! California chicken sex identifiers must have less experience.

My daughter is canvassing country dwellers in Napa Valley, trying to find a home for an extra rooster. They are both beauties, and Dagfinnr wants to keep them both.

“Can’t we figure out a way that they can each have a family of two hens?” he wants to know.

So far, there has been a minimum of bloodshed, but the “boys” are growing bigger and better, daily.

Along with a new gender identity, our chicks now have expanded names: Rhett is “Tyrannosaurus Rhett,” and Penny is called “Mani-Penny!”

We’re all trying to adjust, on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 27, 2017

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