• Those damn hormones!

    by Rebecca Bresnick Holmes

    That pesky Y chromosome is messing with my chicken flock. Lest anyone get the wrong idea (Mr. Sanders), I want to clarify that I am referring ONLY to my chickens and not to the male human (or other) species. Chickens. Only.

    After months of watching my cute little fluffballs turn into bigger fluffballs, then awkward pre-teens, and finally young adults, I was forced to turn some of them out into the world.

    It turned out that not one, but TWO of the three chicks we hatched were boys. Shasta, I suspected from early on. He/she was bigger, acted differently, and was sprouting red growths on its beak and around its chin area (well, what would be a chin on a chicken). I was pretty sure it was a boy from what I had read on line.

    Thankfully, a friend of mine wanted a rooster to put with her hens. I was sad to see Shasta go, but I knew it was for the best, as I figured he’d soon start to crow.

    Even though some may think that six chickens are plenty (my husband included), I immediately started thinking that this would be a perfect opportunity to get another chick. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked by my son’s pet mouse Phooey and her skin issues.

    Phooey has got to be the longest-living and hardiest pet (or “feeder” as the Petco employee called them) mouse I’ve ever seen. The poor thing had only one eye, so we had to actually adopt it. This entailed completing adoption paperwork and a receiving a 50-cent discount.

    I tried to dispense with all that and pay full price for the sake of time and planet-saving waste-reduction, but the PetCo people insisted we both complete the paperwork and take the discount. Phooey, who outlived her four various companions, recently developed some kind of bloody irritation on the back of her neck.

    While searching the internet for mouse skin disorders one morning, I heard a strange sound from the backyard. Maybe the neighbor’s child screaming? I went back to my mouse research and heard the sound again, this time repeatedly and pretty close to our window. An unwanted thought surfaced in my brain: crowing?

    I waited to hear it again and peeked through the blinds when I did. Sure enough, and to my dismay, Cascade, another oh-so-recent-chick, was trying to crow! Geez! Outside, upon closer inspection I noticed that Cascade, too, was bigger than Harriet (the third chick), and was growing that red stuff on his head. Damn those hormones!

    I thought maybe this was an anomaly, so I didn’t do anything right away. Burying my head in the sand perhaps? The next day, however, Cascade was trying to crow again. It was nothing to be proud of. It sounded pretty rough and not unlike a teenage boy’s changing voice.

    I called my friend and she returned to pick up Cascade. At least he and Shasta will be together again, and in a beautiful location, among lots of hens. Hey – maybe they will be each other’s “wingman” when they go out to pick up “chicks!”

    So now we are down to five chickens… but not for long!

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