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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain


The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.


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Well, yesterday, Bobby and I received definitive confirmation that a bad suspicion we'd had was true: Two of the chickens are roosters.

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.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • (no subject) -
    • It's one of the risks of backyard poultry, unfortunately; sexing chicks is only about 90% accurate. Still, we had 2 mistakes of 5, so far! :) The worst part will be letting them go; they really are fun birds.
      • (no subject) -
        • Thanks, Eli. :) I know you know that from sad experience too. It'll be okay in the end, I'm sure. Hopefully Springfield will take them--then they'll get to spend their days pecking around on a real farm! :)
          • (no subject) -
            • :D The roosters would send a gift back to Arianna except that most of what they do is eat, poop, and (now) crow! :D

              If they were at Springfield, too, we'd get to see them every week.
              • (no subject) -
                • We need to get you out to the country! You've never seen a grasshopper and never heard a rooster! :D

                  It's supposedly the same decibel level as traffic. I don't think it's particularly loud. Our neighbor across the street has roosters, and I never hear them. But my hearing is also not very good. :)

                  I suppose it's more startling than loud, like a person shouting or a dog barking. I think it's something easy to get used to, personally. Even when I hear roosters crowing, I don't usually register it. It's a background noise to me, like an airplane flying over or kids playing.

                  The chickens make cute noises too. :) I guess they have that in common as well!
  • I don't suppose you could convince people the roosters are actually eco-friendly alarm clocks? O:)
    • Lol! Wouldn't that be nice?? Supposedly, the decible level of a rooster is roughly equivalent to that of traffic. Our neighbor across the street has roosters, and I never hear them. Still, it would be our luck ... well, and the neighbor behind us already put an anti-bark birdhouse on one of our trees once (and our dogs bark the least of all the dogs in the neighborhood. There's this yappy thing down the street that goes nonstop from when its owners come home till sundown). She works nights, so we really don't want to push our luck with her. (Maybe they make anti-crowing birdhouses?? :D)
      • I used to live in a neighborhood near Lake Merritt in Oakland, California (a very urban area)

        and somebody near us had a rooster that sounded off every morning (two to three hours too early for my lifestyle at the time and even worse on weekends). I am sure that it was not legal keep chickens, but no one ever located it. There must have been complaints? I am the sort that can learn to sleep through anything, so it surprised me at first and then I ignored it.
  • It's annoying that it's so hard to tell! How far are they from being big enough to be slaughtered? You could keep them for meat?
    • We could, but then the question would become: Could Bobby kill his two favorite chickens?? Based on how he reacted after Molly died, I think the answer to that's a big ol' NO! :D
      • LOL well, yes I guess that is a pretty significant condition. You really never should have named them. ;)
        • I had no intentions of telling Bobby my names for them; I name everything (as you know) but don't tend to get overly attached to animals, so I was okay with that. I think Bobby would have become attached even without names. We're very nearly opposites in that, it seems! :)

          I think I'd be more okay with eating them than he would be. Of course, I don't eat chicken, so that's also an easy position for me to take. ;)
          • Well, I can only say that they will taste really nice, but that won't be enough if all he sees when he looks at his plate is Blanche and Sophia running around happy in the backyard... ;)

            The chickens they sell here in Burkina have all run around free all their lives, they are very tasty even if there isn't as much meat on them as I'm used to.
  • Our neighbor used to keep chickens and one rooster until the raccoons and rats got them all, alas. Still, we'd hear her calling, "Henneeee... heneeee!" to summon them out of our rhododendrons, heh. And every time her rooster would crow she'd yell, "HUSH!" LOL!
    • Lol! Yelling at chickens doesn't work very well! Nor does calling them, incidentally, unless there's something in it for them. Ours will respond to Bobby's and my voices if they're in their pen because they hope they'll be let out into the yard. But if they're in the yard already, they become magically deaf. Funny, that. ;)
  • They'd be welcome over here. We'd need a coop, though. Then Bobby could come and visit. This neighborhood already has it's collection of resident roosters and cows that periodically serenade us. I probably wouldn't be quite as big on hand feeding them bugs but they're certainly welcome to all the bugs they could find. The coop would be for their protection - not to really confine them. We're just a tad more rural than you are and we have spotted numerous foxes and a coyote family. I doubt that the cats would bother with them at all. My concern (other than the resident predators noted earlier) would be the lack of chickens for them to tend to and whether or not they'd fight once they matured.

    Hmmm...Barb has talked about getting some chickens to raise. Maybe she'd like one.

    I truly DO NOT understand the people who move to the country - supposedly to get away from the city - then insist on living like they did in the city. Where we are is RURAL, even though we're only 2 miles from downtown (?) Manchester. Out here I expect to hear livestock and night noises and my neighbors tractors cranking up at oh-dark-thirty in the morning. I expect to smell the crops being harvested and fertilizer and manure is a fact of life out here. If you can't handle it - go back to the city...PLEASE!!!
    • I'm chuckling over "downtown" Manchester! Although we do have two stoplights, so that makes it bigger than the town I grew up in. ;)

      I'm not sure how roosters do without hens to tend. Springfield Farm, where we buy all our meat and eggs, has roaming roosters. I never see hens with them (because the hens are pastured for the eggs). The roosters roam around in little groups. It's kind of cute: rooster bromance! :D Our two fight on occasion but never to the extent that they've hurt each other. Mostly, their fights consist of seeing who can puff his feathers the largest!

      So if you decide you want a pair of roosters, do let me know! :)

      I truly DO NOT understand the people who move to the country - supposedly to get away from the city - then insist on living like they did in the city.

      It's beyond me. I grew up in the country and, while I liked our three years in Ellicott City, missed it enough that it was a no-brainer to move out here. I wonder sometimes if people are so out-of-touch and naive that they really think farms look just like they do on the sides of butter tubs. They never smell or have noise or unpleasantries, just a brick-red barn and a gently turning windmill and a field full of piebald cows (who, incidentally, don't fart or bellow and have odorless poop).
      • Just us chickens!

        I'm not well versed on chicken social customs myself other than usually there's a #1 hen and the rooster is there but I'm not sure of his place in the pecking order. Maybe I should have paid more attention - all I knew was when we had chicken for dinner at Grandma's house the flock was always missing one chicken and certain birds were exempt from dinner duty.

        As for city folk moving to the country...now there's a painful concept. If they're trying to fit in - as we did - then my hats off to them. They want to work WITH the system. The ones who want to move out here but bring all their city ideas, rules and such with them - Please, folks, go back to the city and buy a house with a bigger yard. Or would it be a LAWN in the city. I like the 'butter tub' analogy. Sadly, it's all too true! That's what they want - complete with lassie and Ozzie and Harriet next door. Hmmm...sorry - you're too young for Ozzie and Harriet but 50's family sit coms were always set around Mr & Mrs perfect. And our city folk want no 'noise' as in livestock noise, no (ooh, ick!) smells as in fertilizer, manure and that truly precious odor in late Summer of newly cut crop fields and freshly turned earth. Out here I can see the stars and hear ol' Bossy lowing near milking time. Down the road is a confused rooster who crows anytime BUT dawn. I even enjoy hearing the chugging of the tractors. But fertilizer and manure and cows and chickens and tractors all have SMELLS. They make NOISES. And let's not forget Carroll County's favorite Fall activity - Huntin'! I am not concerned by gunshots out here - they have 3 purposes - plinkin' for practice, ridding the property of varmints and hunting for game for FOOD! I am no longer blessed with the city's 24/7 series of gunfights, cursing neighbors, gang fights, ambulance runs, firetrucks and police chases at all hours of the day and night. I don't hear my neighbors toilet flush or their midnight arguments, among other things. I do not worry about finding beer bottles on my porch steps or druggies in the alley behind the house. Nope - y'all can go back to that haven of civilization and STAY there - don't be messin' with my noise and smells and culture pollution. I like it just fine! Oh - and you can keep your freakin' BELTWAY too!

        Your neighbor with the anti-bark or anti - bird gizmos needs to find a nice high rise and move into it. I'm sure the hum of the elevator is lovely in the evening.

        Puttin' my soap box away now...'ats right...them chickens ain't gonna be no bother a'tall.
  • *tries to surpress a chuckle*

    Nopes, is not going to work! Hahahaha!!

    That feels so much better. Fantastic, two alarmclocks, one for each :D

    *wipes tears from her eyes*

    Boy I needed this laugh *giggle*
    • You should have heard them this morning! They started their monkey-see-monkey-do routine and then were crowing in unison! It sounded like some kind of bizarre chicken opera.
      • Hahahahahaha, no no no it's American's next Rooster! Followed by the 'So You Can think You Can Cockeladooooo!"

        I shouldn't have this much fun on your expense.. sorry


        I can so see and hear them doing that while you both go: "Oh no, the neighbourhood*, they will not like this, sshtttttttt!"

        * I nearly typed this line from a fantastic song by the Golden Earring:

        There goes the old neighbourhood. There goes the good old neighbourhood on a one way trip to hell. (Shake you sinner) The song is called Paradise in Distress.

        You made this week start on a very cheerful note for me, thank you so much! *hugs*
  • Somehow that reminds me of our guinea-pigs. My first guinea-pig was (according to the pet shop people) female, but a later visit to the vet informed us that she was actually a he. Fortunately Toto was a fairly unisex name...

    My second guinea-pig was (according to the pet shop people) male. Then we went on a two-week vacation, leaving Nepomuck in the care of our neighbours who also had a male guinea-pig, Pippin.
    A few weeks later, 'Nepomuck' began to grow rounder and rounder and finally gave birth to five adorable baby guinea-pigs. As Nepomuck is very clearly a masculine name, it was changed to 'Muckel' (it makes sense in German, really!)...

    Thanks to those five baby guinea-pigs, I learned that it is actually very, very easy to sex guinea-pigs. There's a place on their tummy, just below the navel, that you gently have to press down on. Either a penis will unfold between their legs, or it won't. If it won't, they are very very likely not male. I don't know why the pet-shop people had such trouble with realising that...

    Anyway! I do hope the farm will take them - running around with other roosters (and, of course, hens ;)) sounds like a good life! Too bad your neighbourhood is like that. :(
    • We're not really sure that the reaction to the roosters would be negative, but everyone we know who has backyard chickens tells us that it's not a good idea to draw attention to them. Even if the chickens are legal (as ours are), people can make life miserable for you. The founder of a backyard chicken advocacy group, for example, lost her flock of three hens after her neighbor saw them. Just saw them. It's not like they were noisy or stinky or had decimated his vegetable garden. He saw them and, I guess, thought it was his obligation to play citizen-sheriff and report her. (They weren't legal in her area but, come on, three hens could cause fewer problems than three outdoor cats.)

      I don't know much about sexing baby chicks, only that it's apparently a rather difficult task and people become expert in this! :D I didn't know anything about guinea pigs either, but that sounds much easier. We had two rabbits once, and when we realized that they were male and female, made an appointment to have the boy neutered. The day before, he got to the female. We named the resulting offspring Oops. Your story about your increasingly round gal reminded me of that. :)
  • Haha, oh dear! My next door neighbor has one, and the bloody thing crows at all hours. It might be mysteriously silenced one day... ;D I live in the country though, so I don't complain - besides, the thing has never woken me up!

    So will you be getting a couple new chickens in hopes that they are hens?
  • Oh dear! The DH would like to try keeping a few chickens, but this is exactly the reason I've not been for it. We do live in town, actually, but it's a small rural town, and they'd be allowed--there are folks a few blocks from here who keep a couple of goats. But still, if neighbors complain...

    And my DH would never be able to eat them either.
  • anti-bark birdhouses? OMG! So that the birds wouldn't be bothered by the dogs? I have trouble picturing it!
    No, no don't eat them! I get very attached to everything so eating anything I've raised would be unthinkable. I'd be crying all through the process!!!!!
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