Well, it’s pretty clear by now that we have two roosters in our flock. “Buster” is a beautiful multi-colored Araucana with blue-green feet. I guess he won’t be laying us any pink or blue eggs now. He has a distinctive red blob of a comb at the top of his beak and his tail feathers stand up high shining blue-black in the sun. Unfortunately for Buster, Cooper had already established himself as the king of the flock long ago so he must always stand back in the shadows and take a subordinate role. He does his share of pushing the girls around and pecking at them when Cooper is not looking but if he dares to take center stage, Cooper chases him away with a menacing display of flayed-out feathers around his head and neck.
As for Cooper, he is growing much faster than the hens and is getting more proud every day. When I bring them kitchen scraps or handfuls of clover from the yard, he is the first to arrive to pick out the best morsels. If another chicken dares to get ahead of him and start eating she finds herself squawking and running for cover as Cooper corrects her cheeky behavior.
Cooper is an Isa Brown, I believe, and was a sweet little yellow chick when we brought him home. He was the first to develop a little nubby comb on his head and I made an uneducated guess that this might mean he was a male. He is gradually growing more brown feathers on his back and perhaps one day he will no longer be mostly white. There is one female Isa Brown, (imaginatively named “Isa”) who has already gone from pale yellow to an all-over soft rusty brown. The two Rhode Island Reds are a much darker shade so you can tell them apart from Isa at a glance, but I cannot tell the two of them apart so they are “Red 1” and “Red 2”.
I am beginning to hear new voices coming from the coop. I believe Cooper is developing his crow. I’ll be watching them from the barn door and I’ll hear a strange wheezy croak that trails off into a squeak. Sure enough, Cooper is the one with his beak open and his eye trained on me. I sometimes play with him and crow in my imitation of a wheezy “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”. It seems to confuse him and he freezes and gives me a stare-down.
I often sing to the chickens when I visit in the evening. They seem to like it and they gather around me and look up. I sang lullabies to them when they were little so perhaps they remember. The dogs get jealous when I talk baby talk to the chickens, and when I sing, Beezee gives me a nudge from behind to make sure everything is all right.
I have heard that you can’t really keep two roosters, and I fear that I may have to choose when they come of age, to prevent bloodshed. I plan to go to the county fair next week on poultry judging day and I’ll ask around to get the take on it from the experts.