Two of the reds developed quite differently from the other (Rose, incidentally), so much so that we thought Rose might be a different variety. Then they started to shape up like roosters, with the resplendent tails and prominent combs. Then they started fighting a lot more than seemed necessary to keep their place in the pecking order. (They only fought each other, never the other three.) Since these are our first chickens, we have no experience on which to base our judgments, and pictures online tend to be terribly unhelpful, since there is so much variety even within some breeds. But then, yesterday, we heard it ...
Perhaps keyed up by all the excitement and weird people in costumes coming out to peer into their pen, one of the reds let out quite an impressive crow that confirmed our bad suspicions. This morning, the two of them were entertaining themselves in a game of monkey-see-monkey-do: One would crow, then the other, and so on.
The crappy thing is that they are the two friendliest (again, a sign, since cockerels are supposed to be friendlier than pullets) and routinely "ask" to be held and flutter onto our shoulders as we're working around the coop. Rose used to do that but grew out of it. The crappier thing is that "Sophia" was Bobby's favorite after we lost little Molly. So the dog killed his first favorite, then his next favorite turned out to be a rooster.
We would love to keep them--we both want roosters--but don't want to push our luck since we do still live in a suburban neighborhood. We've been told by other backyard chicken keepers that it's best to keep a low profile, even if they're legal, as ours are, to avoid problems with busybodies and antagonistic people making life rough for you. Unfortunately, parts of Carroll County have become havens for people who want to live in the country without putting up with country life. We have one such treeless neighborhood of rows of nearly identical McMansions a ten-minute walk from our house, where dozens of kids pour off the schoolbus every afternoon and then don't reappear again till they pour back on the next morning. We worry that two roosters would draw too much unwanted attention to the coop hidden behind the hedge.
So we'll be offering "Blanche" and "Sophia" to the farm where we get our eggs, dairy, and meat, since they have quite a few roosters running around. If they won't take them, we'll have to find them good homes elsewhere.
On a slightly related note, the two dark-colored chickens that we were told were Australorps? Are actually Plymouth Rocks. These are also excellent egg layers, and the name sounds much cooler than "Australorp," which is one of those words that you have to repeat three or four times to people before they say, "Aha," and just give up.
Pullets and cockerels look a lot alike in that breed, so we're hoping both ours are still girls. No crowing, yet, so that's a good sign.
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