What came first- the chickens or the blog?

In the eye of the beholder

on May 21, 2012

Last week round our way was the annual Agricultural Show. We live in the leafy suburbs and in my opinion this is perhaps not the most convenient place for farmer types to come to show off their prize pigs or ogle the latest in farm machinery. Also it makes getting out of my driveway in my “Mum’s Tractor” (ie MPV) a complete nightmare for four days. But the lure of getting to sit in a large John Deere tractor, laugh at the antics of skittish kid goats, and be completely overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of the pedigree Charolais bulls never fails to attract us every year.
This May of course as a hen keeper I was eager to get to the Poultry Hall to check out the chooks. The cacophony of cockerels met us at the door. Now I think my four girls with their rusty plumage are very handsome, but at the Show there were some real stunners. And some bizarre ones too. There are some very odd looking breeds with feathery feet or Afro type headdresses. There was a magnificent dark green iridescent duck which was so breath-taking lay beautiful I stopped trying to capture its lustre in a photo and just stared for longer than was polite.
What was most striking was that in general the roosters as well as being very vocal, sported magnificent plumage, brighter, glossier, more abundant than the ladies. They were strutting around crowing loudly while the hens were sitting, mostly contented. Some had even laid eggs. Whereas these boys were making their presence felt by whatever means possible. It would appear that particularly in the bird world the male of the species is the more attractive – think of peacocks and even the humble blackbird, whereas when it comes to humans it is generally us hens who put on a brighter display.
You may not be familiar with the tv show “Dating in the Dark”. Contestants meet in a completely blacked out room and get to know each other by using their other senses and just chatting. It’s fascinating. In a recent episode a girl was completely smitten by the gentle humour and interesting soul searching conversations she’d had with a faceless stranger who had even composed a song just for her. She was so looking forward to seeing him for the first time. She was pretty sure she had met The One. Now when the couples are seen for the first time at the end of the dating process it is done through the use of a one way screen so they cannot see each other’s reaction. Thankfully when the young man in question was revealed he could not see this girl’s face drop and tears leak out when she saw that with his glasses and Side Show Bob type ginger curls he wasn’t “her type”, she felt no attraction to him at all. How sad that his physical appearance meant so much more than the way this man when unseen had met her emotional needs and had reached into her very heart. However, I’ll be the first to admit that the first thing I noticed about Mr Gillybirds was his lovely smile. So I’m not in any position to judge.( His first memory of me was my Police sweatshirt.)
One of the most common questions I’m asked since the hens arrived is- do you not need to have a rooster so the hens will lay eggs? Well, no, hens will lay most of the year, a rooster is only necessary if you want their eggs fertilised for chicks. And if you want to alienate your neighbours. But living in a house with a husband and four boys, there is quite enough testosterone flying around, and at times enough preening and prinking in mirrors before a night out. I’ll stick with my feathered girls for now.
So for those of you who follow this blog, here are some photos of some of those prize winning roosters at the Show.




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