The Thousand Mile Rooster and Chicken Math
Would you be willing to drive a thousand miles for a rooster? Well, that was the question that I had to ask myself. As it turned out, it didn’t require nearly as much soul searching as you might think. But in the end, it wasn’t one little rooster that would be my downfall, it was my poor command of “Chicken Math” that would set the tone for this unusual journey.
It started innocently enough. Comfortably curled up on the couch in the little nest that I had created for myself on that snowy winter day, I scrolled through the new posts on Facebook. I lazily swiped the screen to reveal post after post. Then there he was! I will never forget that face. It was the face that could launch a thousand ships, or at least one unnecessarily large Toyota.
Cue the 70’s sitcom style harp music and let’s flash back almost 20 year. My very first lap pet chicken was a little Red Frizzle Cochin Bantam hen. Her name was Pizzy. She was my constant companion. She rode in the car with me. She went and visited family and friends with me. And on one ill fated evening, even went to a Fire Company dinner with me where the firemen kept giving her sips of their beers. That night, they learned why the chicken crossed the road. It was, of course, to go get another 6 pack. The stories of that night circulated around town for years. It was the official start of my career as Crazy Chicken Lady. Pizzy lived a good long life, but as is the natural state of things, she eventually passed on, but she will forever live in my heart. I love all chickens, but I will always carry a special fondness for Red frizzles.
Flash forward to our current story… There he was a tiny little Red Frizzle Cochin Bantam Roo for sale on a livestock page in my state. I had been searching for a couple years now to find one. I immediately messaged the seller. In my zeal though, I missed one important detail. Location. Pennsylvania is a wide state. More precisely, 283 miles according to Google. I live less than 20 minutes from the eastern border. This little Roo, although technically still within the borders of my state was less than 10 minutes from the western border. What to do…what to do?
I began to postulate that if I had another reason to be out in the western part of the state, I could simply pick him up in my way through and it would make the whole premise seem slightly less insane. The wheels of my mind churned away. By the time I was done, I had mapped out a route that included a stop to see one cousin in Erie, an overnight at another cousin’s house and a return trip through a scenic state park. All tolled just over a thousand miles in 36 hours. But would my husband go for it? “Oh honey…..”
Not really too surprisingly, because of his love of our feathered friends, Dear Husband agreed that it might be a fun trip. Everything fell easily into place. Even the cousin that would put us up for the night said that the little Roo (which had already evolved into Roo and girlfriend hen) could stay with us in her house, even though her landlord didn’t allow pets, as long as they stayed in their cage.
As we packed the truck the night before our departure, I over packed supplies as I always do. My husband brought 3 cat carriers from storage to see what size I wanted. I told him since we had room, to put the all in the truck. I also threw in several collapsible dog kennels and a folding pet coral. Better safe than sorry. I knew our barn space for new birds was limited, but I also knew the sellers had other birds for sale. (sheepish smile).
When we arrived at the sellers farm, they indeed had many young birds for sale! They were breeding them for show and the ones that were “pet quality”, meaning their characteristics were not right for showing, were up for sale. I quickly spotted the little man that I had come for. I scooped him up and he immediately nestled against my shirt and closed his eyes and started to purr. It was as if he had waited his whole life for me. My heart swelled with affection for the tiny creature. I held him while his little girlfriend hen was located and caught. In talking with the sellers, I learned that my little roo friend (Izzy as he would come to be known) had a brother. They had been raised together so they didn’t fight. Well, it would be a shame to split up a family now wouldn’t it? (yet another sheepish grin) Dear husband turned to go back to the truck for the cat carrier. How many do you want me to bring. “Uhhh, better bring them all”, I said over my shoulder as I intently studied the little feather creatures all around me.
Launch Chicken Math Calculator…
So into a carrier went the little roo and his red headed girlfriend. (2) Then his brother joined him. We would call him Judd. (+1) Now, you can’t have 2 roos with one hen, so I proceeded to pick out another hen. I found a cute little white hen with rusty looking spots on her wings. The coloration disqualified her for showing, but it made her cute as a button in my eyes. She would come to be called Nan. (+1) But 2 hens to each roo really is a better ratio I said to my husband. He responded with a kind of blank stare. I took that as complete agreement! 2 more little white hens added to the carrier. At the time of writing this, we are still trying to find appropriate names for them. (+2) I had seen online that they also had a little Blue Frizzled Roo for sale, so I asked about him. They told me that they didn’t think I would want him because he was very aggressive with his hens and not really pet material, but that they would go fetch him so I could take a look. A few minutes later, she returned with a little ball of blue/gray fluff. It was love at first sight. This little guy who would come to be known as Frank may have been aggressive with his hens, but he rode on my lap 300 out of the next 650 miles of the trip. So into a separate carrier he went. (+1) The whole time this was all going on there were 2 little white crested blue polish chickens following us everywhere. They kept perching on my husband’s boots. Their giant crests made them as good as blind, but they were simply adorable. “What do you think honey?” “If you want them, get them,” he replied. Done! Into the 3rd carrier they went. (+2)
Classic “Chicken Math” had taken us from one little Roo to 9 birds total. I was as happy as a chicken in a dust bath…but my cousin was probably going to kill me…