Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 237: Bonus Roo & Ronda, the Broody Hen of My Dreams

Pot-Pie, my new office mate

Craigslist is an amazing resource. I advertised for a broody hen, a plus-size surrogate to assist Lucy and Gerry in baby-making efforts. I didn’t get many responses. One helpful soul informed me that broody hens were hard to come by, and I might want to up my offer of $15. But I think fifteen-bucks for a surly hen that won’t lay eggs, eats and poops, and pecks hands trying to gather the eggs of others, could not be worth more than my offer. Even still, I worried.

About a week after my post, Kristi sent me an email: “Hi there, I’m so sorry to hear about your raccoon attack! We just lost a 2 year old barred Rock and a 5 week old Maran to a raccoon last week – they are vicious things! I have a 2 year old Barred Rock hen that I can’t stop being broody. She has actually been broody for about a month and I’ve tried to break her but she’s determined to sit on the nest all day. If you want her, you can have her for free... I also have a 5 week old chocolate Maran rooster that you can have if you want him – he was supposed to be a hen.

I know it’s silly to get excited over chickens, but I was thrilled. A broody hen and a little roo all for free. I met up with Kristi today to pick up the birds. She lives on beautiful Bainbridge Island, about 40 minutes from my house, but worth the trip.

Ronda is broody alright. She was sitting in her nest and acting rather nasty when I gathered her up. She is larger than I imagined. I’m guessing about 7lbs. The Barred Rock is a heritage breed, originating in Plymouth rock and prized as a dual-purpose bird, excellent for both meat and eggs. The breed is cold-hearty and known to be quiet and gentle. Ronda may be the exception. She's an old biddy of a bird and went psycho on me once I got her home. I really ought to wear gloves. If she keeps up her crap, her dual-purpose as a stewing hen may be tested.

The little roo is smaller than I assumed, so that leads me to some logistical juggling. I only have one coop, and he is too small to run with the big girls. I’m also not sure how Gerry will treat him. For now, the roo is living in my office – kind of odd, but he likes it.

Whenever one gets a “pet” from Craiglist, especially a pet that tastes delicious, it’s important to clarify plans. I plan to hang on to Ronda for brooding purposes, but the little Roo’s fate is less secure. I may wait until he is bigger and then eat him. I informed Kristi of my plans, just to be sure he was still available. She was fine with it, and had thought to eat him herself, but didn't know how to go about such things. I know it sounds harsh, but I'm hungry for chicken. I haven't had roasted poultry since I started this killing spree back in December. I plan to shoot quail or pheasant or duck or goose or wild turkey or something chicken-ish to satiate the need, but it hasn't happened yet.

I temporarily named the roo “Pot-Pie,” just to get used to the idea of raising something for dinner, but I’m having my doubts. He’s so damn cute and far to easy to adore. He is also a Cuckoo Maran, a rare breed that produces dark-chocolate colored eggs. I'd like to add Marans to my hen house, but they are hard to find. Maybe when he is older, he can make babies that will produced chocolate eggs.

 If I don't eat Pot-Pie, I'll have to eat Gerry. Sometimes two roosters can co-habitate as long as there is plenty of room to free-range and establish territories. But raccoons and coyotes eliminated free-ranging as an option.

The truth is there is only room for one cock in the hen house. And that room is conditional on behavior. I won’t have an aggressive rooster, one that jumps on me when I enter. Gerry is a sweetheart, but he’s starting to do that side-step thing around me. He thinks I’m a rooster and a threat to his status. Maybe I need my hormone levels checked. Maybe I’m putting off too much testosterone. This is the second crazy rooster that confused me for a dude… It’s tough on the self-esteem.

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