One problem is solved. My farm friend Chip contacted me the other evening on Facebook. “Would you like a juvenile rooster?”
Ever since Monty’s disappearance I had been looking sadly on Craigslist. (Each fall there are free roosters available for the taking.) Unfortunately all the appropriate ones were two hours away. While I did want a rooster, at this pressured time the thought of using a day to get one made me wilt. Exactly how committed am I to the happiness of my hens? Now here was Chip with a potential candidate just down the road.
“Sure!” I wrote. “As long as he’s not some kind of nutty breed.” (I prefer classic, old-fashioned chickens.) I didn’t hear back. Fifteen minutes later, however, the headlights of a truck sliced through the darkness as I was walking down the hill to the barn. I peered in at the figure behind the wheel. It was Chip, driving with a chicken on his lap.
“What kind of rooster is he?” I said, slightly unnerved by the extraordinary promptness of this gift.
“I don’t know!” Chip said cheerfully, and showed the bird to me. The rooster was black with gold, green, and rust-colored feathers and a shaggy face.
“Oh! He’s an Ameraucana, I think. Ameraucanas also have black legs.”
Chip lifted the chicken to show me the legs. Black.
“Great!” Every rooster I’ve ever had, except for my first, a Buff Orpington in 2002, has been part Ameraucana. They are pretty birds and the hens lay blue-green eggs.
Chip explained that the owners of the farm where he works had not wanted a rooster with its hens and had told him to put this one outside and “let nature take its course.” This attitude always infuriates me. Nature left the chicken a long time ago; they are completely dependent on human care.
In the barn, the girls perked up immediately at the sight of the new boy in town, and flew down from the roost to look him over. The teenager seemed more anxious than cocky.
Chip said, “Isn’t he beautiful?”
Actually, I think he just misses beauty. He greatly resembles my old rooster Russell Crow, with green, gold, and rust over basic black. (Chip asked me what I would name him, and my first thought was to go Biblical and call him Joseph, for his coat of many colors.) However, this boy’s outfit goes a bit too far by adding a pair of black and white spotted cheek muffs and beard. These tip the look over into “too busy” — and to my eyes, plain.
From the rear he looks reasonably sleek …
… but from the front he’s got a little too much going on.
I really love to watch a beautiful rooster. However… no creature should be judged solely on beauty. This one needed rescue. He is here. And there is always the chance his look will come together as he matures. In the meantime, his unfortunate facial adornment reminds me of the Civil War Union general Ambrose Burnside, whose own extravagant facial hair gave “sideburns” to the language.
With my coyote stalker, it seems I could use a general in the barn — even a meek, teenaged one.
Welcome to the farm, Ambrose.