Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet, odd Hector

Hector is the youngest of our 19 chickens, and the cockerel counterpart to our two Black Australorp hens Alice and Gertie. As the youngest of the lot he has been on the bottom rung of the pecking order - actually, if there was a basement to the pecking order that's where he would be.

Everyone chases Hector. The older Buff Orpington hens chase him. The younger hens chase him. The big boss Pee Wee chases him. The remaining cockerel on Death Row chases him. Even Alice and Gertie chase him. It's very hard to get a good picture of Hector because he's always running.

We're a bit puzzled by all this, because after all, Hector is a cockerel, and he is growing up, and he should be starting to channel his inner-rooster. So far nothing. Once in a while he will try standing up to Alice and Gertie (who are just above him in the pecking order) but he always backs down and runs away.

We're also puzzled (and intrigued and utterly charmed) by the other part of Hectors's personality: he is very much his own little creature. When the rest of the flock is voraciously grazing in the orchard he can be found swinging on the roost in the chicken yard, happy as can be. And on top of it all, Hector has yet to make a sound. Well, he does make sweet cooing noises when he's settling in for the night (as do Alice and Gertie - it must be an Australorp thing), but he has never uttered anything at all resembling even a baby cock-a-doodle-do.

All in all, he's an odd, sweet duck. I mean chicken. We love him.

We felt awful the other day when we put him in the chicken yard with Pee Wee, the king of the roost. Pee Wee is relatively gentle as big roosters go, and he and Hector had shared a yard before. We put them together because Kim is trying to find ways of managing their feed: non-laying pullets and roosters shouldn't be given the calcium-enriched feed laying hens get, because the extra calcium is hard on their kidneys. But this time Pee Wee pounced on Hector, and without enough room for running away Hector flew into the fence a couple of times and then ran to a corner where he buried his head into the dirt as far as it would go. What a great defensive tactic. We rushed to his rescue, of course, and will never put the two of them together again. But it felt like...well it felt like the last episode of Glee, where Kurt kept getting shoved into the lockers by the football team.

So we started to wonder. Maybe Hector, our sweet gentle Hector, is gay. Plus he's mute.

Our darling Hector is a gay, mute chicken.


Paula said...

It would be okay if he were gay, because we all know there's nothing wrong with that, but I'm going to guess that he's just a late bloomer. Someday (maybe) he'll want to start crowing. He is just small for his age?

Poor baby. I'm glad he has concerned and protective mamas in you two.

Natalie said...

Darling Hector.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Haven't you talked to your chickens about how wrong bullying is? ;-)) Let Sweet Hector know that I'm rooting for him here in Virginia that he finds his voice and some friends!

Flartus said...

I think it's typical for a non-alpha rooster (to mix my species metaphors!) to automatically be at the bottom of the pecking order. However, I agree with Paula that part of his problem is just late blooming--which may be exacerbated by having another dominant rooster around.

Still, I have to say that Hector looks pretty damn good for the bottom-rung chicken.

Doc said...

I'm so happy you have come to that conclusion, as now I'm quite sure "Odd" Hector will never go on death row, pleeeease! Our veterinary told us our late Otto (Dachshund) was gay which really explained some of his preferences. We miss him dearly.

Miriam said...

Thanks for your comments everyone! I think you're probably right, that Hector is just a late bloomer. The funny thing is that he not only looks good, Flartus, he seems like a happy and content little rooster, even though he's always running. And Doc, we will never, ever, ever put Hector on death row: we are so enchanted by him he will have a home with us forever.

Doc said...

Oh my, that brings tears of joy to my eyes Miriam, thank you for that news. A forever home for sweet odd Hector.

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