We’d been questioning our rooster’s masculinity. He isn’t exactly overtly assertive with the ladies and while we are optimistically incubating eggs that we hope are fertile we haven’t actually witnessed mating activity. Andrea told us that when she was raising PP from a hatchling she thought for at least a couple of months that he was a hen; perhaps he’s been confused about his sexuality ever since. He’s a quiet fellow too. Doesn’t crow loudly or much at all. He’s not mean. He consents to being picked up. Doesn’t aggressively patrol the coop the way most roosters do. He has no history of territorial attacks like the one portrayed in my friend Cindy’s awesome CBC Outfront radio spot Life and Death in the Chicken Coop (go listen to it — her kids are amazing, and so funny).
Today I was in Nelson, Chuck was at work, and Sophie, home alone with Noah, went out to the coop to collect eggs. It was cold (there was snow last night), she was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and so she was in a hurry. She ran into the coop through the little people-door and slammed the door behind her to keep warm. The door just pushes open and closed, but there’s a hook-and-eye lock on the outside to help foil wily predators. When she slammed the door, darned if that hook didn’t swing wildly and plant itself right in the eye. Locked.
She had told Noah she was going to collect the eggs, but she does that every day and often wanders the property for a while afterwards. I wonder how long it would have taken him to get worried enough about where she had ended up to go outside. A long time, likely. Hours, maybe. And there she was, locked in.
Luckily she’s a very skinny kid. She recently grew into to some Size 7 pants. There is a tiny little door designed with chickens in mind that gives them access to the outdoor run. Sophie realized she was going to have to squeeze herself through that and her slight size made this a possibility.
She hunkered down on her hands and knees, and then her belly upon the dirty straw and chicken poop, and proceeded to start squeezing herself through the tiny opening. That’s when PP sprang into action. This was no longer a friendly human come to deliver feed and water — this was a sly slithering predator-like creature! He launched himself at her bare skin, beak and claws going in for the kill.
Poor Sophie! She grabbed him and held him down. Which was helpful at quelling the attack, but made it darned near impossible to wriggle through the little door. Every time she let go for a moment to try to worm her way through, the rooster would renew his attack. There was a rather extensive contest between the two of them, played out on the floor of the locked coop.
Eventually she got through. She was crying and bleeding with chicken manure on her knees and hands. She opened the gate and let herself out of the caged run. By the time she had walked the hundred paces back to the house where Noah spotted her through the window, her jitters and tears had turned to laughter. She’s been laughing about it ever since.
It seems PP is a Real Rooster after all. So we’ll keep turning those blue eggs and keep hoping.