No longer an ‘it,’ Little Jerry is Little Geri!

Little Geri — yes, she’s actually a hen! — was pulled out of the coop to be photographed with her first egg. It was cold outside, and she was not amused.

It’s a GIRL!

I feel like hanging some balloons on the mailbox and crocheting a tiny pink blankie. Yes, the much-anticipated reveal of our chicken’s gender happened a mere 165 days into our grand experiment with backyard poultry farming.

The definitive evidence: beautiful, speckled brown eggs. One from each chicken, which means there have been five eggs so far.

In case you missed it, Hubby and I have been urban chicken farmers since last summer, when I brought home six little balls of peeping fluff.

Those balls of fluff grew into teenage chickens, a painfully awkward stage for fowl and humans alike. One poor, unfortunate chicken met an untimely demise during an encounter with our dog. The surviving Chicken Five feathered out into adult barred rock chickens, complete with zebra stripes. Throughout this maturation, the gender of one chicken in particular hung in limbo.

Little Jerry, the most aggressive and most colorful chick, perplexed us all. Yes, Little Jerry was large and in charge. Yes, Little Jerry’s comb was bigger and his/her legs were sturdier (a trademark of roosters). Yes, Little Jerry just “looked” different.

I purposely bought “sexed” chicks, which is accurate about 90 percent of the time. The odds were not really in our favor for avoiding a rooster.

But miraculously, Little Jerry is actually Little Geri (short for Geraldine). We can now stop referring to her as “it,” “he/she,” or “Pat,” from “Saturday Night Live.”

For a while there, I was a little worried we might be dealing with a weird situation. Like the time my lab partners and I dissected a frog in biology and it turned out to have both male and female organs (so confusing, but fascinating). I wasn’t really keen on raising a hermaphroditic chicken. I wondered if our poor little chicken was confused. She didn’t really fit in with the other girls, so maybe that was causing her bullying behavior. One day “he” was clearly a rooster, the next, maybe “she” was just a really masculine hen?

I had no idea this kind of barnyard gender bending took place.

Seriously, discovering those eggs in the nesting box was like an early Christmas present. We were gone for 10 days on vacation, and I suspected the hens might lay their first egg while we were away.

But, they waited for us to return. That morning, Hubby was changing out their frozen water and noticed the chickens were making new noises.

“Those chickens are going crazy out there. Little Jerry is making all kinds of noise,” he said.

It was so loud, I didn’t even have to step out the back door. Little Jerry was raising some kind of ruckus in the coop, a new kind of noise that sounded urgent. A noise that seemed to be part surprise, part relief and part celebration. “Bawk-bawk ba-KAWK!” It was a look-what-I-did, thank-gawd-that’s-over kind of noise.

“Ohmigod. I think that’s an egg-laying sound!” I said. Don’t ask me how I knew. I suspect I was reaching back in my mind to an old Looney Tunes VHS tape I used to watch with my siblings, which featured twitterpated cartoon chickens comically laying mountains of eggs when roosters crooned at them.

Sure enough, perfect little brown eggs lay in the nesting box. Hubby was so excited. Every doubt he ever had about having chickens vanished when he produced the loot from his coat pockets.

Of course, the most exciting thing about discovering that Little Geri is, in fact, a hen, is the fact that we’ll get more eggs. The girls are starting to earn their keep around here and boy, is that exciting!

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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