Roomie‘s post on her blog http://kanatyler.com/2012/06/18/home-to-roost/ reminded me of my only experience with baby chicks. I was posting a response and realized that it was really too long … so here it is.
When I was younger [which could be any moment in time] my step mother decided it would be great to give my half-brother [who is years and years younger than me] a few baby chicks for Easter. Because my father did not want to deal with tears of disappointment when they died, he took the time to warn his wife that the Easter Chicks usually don’t live very long. She insisted it would be a good way to introduce Keith to “responsibility”. As usual, he gave in and three baby chicks were chirping in my brother’s Easter basket that morning.
My brother, Keith, on the other hand, had no interest at all in baby anythings and after a passing glance and a quick “cute” moved on to find the real goodies hidden around the house and yard – candy, eggs, and cash.
My father’s only consolation was that these chicks were likely to leave life in a few weeks. All but one croaked within the month. The last one lived and lived and lived … for several years – and as a ROOSTER. We discovered that there is no way to tell in advance if you have a “hen” or “rooster”.
My father lived in Coral Gables [at the time, an exclusive area of Miami]. Needless to say, chickens were outlawed animals. [Cats and dogs barely made the cut for legal residency.] Dad reasoned that building a coop would draw too much attention. As a result, my father “house-trained” the rooster.
Billy [our black lab named after a childhood friend of my father's]was under the impression that he had become a “father” and adopted Huntley [our growing rooster]. Billy allowed Huntley to climb on his back; and between the two of them, they learned to open the back door. Billy transported his son outside to the backyard for both his required business and outdoor time. Huntley slept under Billy’s chin.
Dad was the friendly sort who was popular with and trusted by everyone in the cul-de-sac. One thing about roosters: they do not know that “crowing” is not polite in upper-crust neighborhoods. And, with the first sign of light, Huntley would proudly announce the coming day. Neither my father, brother or myself minded the early out-of-tune song, but the person who started this adventure despised it. Worse, the neighbors began commenting to Dad that they “thought they heard a rooster crowing”. Dad played stupid. As Huntley got larger, the crowing got stronger and louder. What a proud young man he was!
Neighbors started gathering in groups determined to locate the culprit who was harboring the “illegal”. Dad suggested that perhaps it was a runaway from a farm outside of the city or an escapee from a transport vehicle. Men, women and children lumbered up and down the streets with binoculars peering at every branch in search of the wild one – unsuccessfully.
Huntley lived with us [and drove the neighbors berserk] for two years. Finally, after my step-mother’s groaning reached a sufficient level for my father to take other action, the whole family [including Billy]made a day trip to a local farm where Huntley was released into the pen with about 20 chickens and two other roosters. The farmer agreed to take him on the condition that Huntley could win favor from the hens and respect from the competitors; otherwise, we would have to take him back with us.
My father and Billy watched as Huntley strutted his stuff for the hens. Dad and Billy stood proudly on the sideline as their “kid” passed the test of manhood and quietly registered their goodbyes with smiles.