The dynamics of the Doughty homestead changed dramatically in the summer of 2008, when our two grandsons, Tristan and Darian (a/k/a Mr. Bubby) came to live with us for a year while their mom—our oldest daughter Amanda, a single mom and U.S. Marine—was deployed in Afghanistan.
Tristan, seven years old at the time, had to leave his dog, Aspen, and cat, Ginger, behind in North Carolina (although he did bring Spike, a sweet little white mouse). He was eager to make friends with Clucky and Gigi. Busy by nature (aren’t all boys that age?), Tristan was patient and gentle with The Gals as they got to know him.
One of Tristan’s favorite activities that summer was to collect leaves, flowers, and seeds from the backyard and concoct elaborate potions, which he would leave as offerings for Gigi.
Gigi seemed pleased.
Mr. Bubby, then only one year old, shared some similar interests with the chickens — primarily a love of crackers. Clucky and Gigi were often spied trying to sneak in the back door while Bubby was occupied in his high chair, manufactuaring and dispersing copious amounts of cracker crumbs.
Bubby would also have involved and animated conversations with the chickens.
Sure would like to know what they were talking about…
Two of my favorites…
Clucky (left) and The Death Star (right) — compare and contrast
When I was a kid, my parents always referred to last place as “the behind leader.” Among our chicks, Clucky had been the unequivocal behind leader from day one. It was actually pretty endearing.
However, the unexpected departure of Babraham set in motion a profound change in the dynamics of our backyard flock.
Gigi, always Babraham’s faithful second in command, momentarily lost her bearings in the absence of the alpha chicken. Though it took only a short time for Gigi to recover herself, by then it was too late. Somehow, incredibly, Clucky had seized control of the coop.
The amount of time required for absolute power to corrupt Clucky’s tiny brain and questionable soul was truly staggering.
It soon became increasingly difficult to ignore a striking similarity between Clukcy and the Death Star.
A new era had begun.
Feathers McGraw is the arch-villain of The Wrong Trousers, British director Nick Park’s 1993 claymation video short featuring gullible cheese-loving Wallace, an inventor, and his faithful dog Gromit. Spoiler alert: Feathers is actually a penguin, but he ingeniously disguises himself as a chicken when engaging in nefarious criminal activities. Well-written, clever and very funny, this remains one of my favorite videos from Jasmine’s childhood and I would enthusiastically recommend it to both chicken and penguin lovers alike.
Soon there was no denying the fact that our beloved Babraham Lincoln was a rooster—which meant we could not keep him in our suburban neighborhood. Heartbroken, we began the search for a new home for Babraham.
Rick posted a notice on an on-line backyard chicken forum and we were soon contacted by a family on Vashon Island seeking a rooster for their five hens. Their young son had been chased by a rooster, so they were looking for just the right one to help him get past that bad experience.
After numerous e-mails back and forth, followed by additional phone conversations, we decided this sounded like it could be a good fit.
Rick and Jasmine took the ferry to Vashon with Babraham and met the family. They were lovely; Babraham had his new home.
We received a number of updates on Babraham over the next few months. Some excerpts:
Just wanted to give you the one-week update on Babraham, and was inspired to do so last night by Babe himself. This week he has been fine, but still very shy around the other chickens…Thursday I was standing in the chicken house feeding him and he just jumped onto my arm. He missed being held! I held him in my arms and fed him, and pet him and let the kids feed him and pet him.
Last evening around dinner time, I thought Babe had already retired to the chicken house, but learned differently. I took [their daughter] into her room to get a fresh diaper before supper. And there was Babraham, just standing there on the carpet, for all the world looking as if he wanted to blend in as one of her stuffed animals…Babe had obviously been in there quite awhile, long enough to poop in two places. It was hysterical. I think he really likes human company!
Thanks so much for letting us be Babraham’s new people. I think he’s a great addition to our menagerie, and certainly he’s the best, most friendly rooster I could possibly imagine having.
That last one is pretty great, but our favorite came with the picture below and the subject line “Only problem with Babraham is he won’t quit coming in the house!”
Fare thee well, Babraham. We love you.
Babraham, Gigi and Clucky lived in our kitchen for quite a while after we first brought them home. They had a nice roomy cage with wood chips and a great view. We also took them out often — Babraham, in particular, liked to sit on Jasmine’s lap and watch “Family Guy.”
As they grew, we would take them outside and let them explore the back yard. They stuck pretty close together on these outings, always following Babraham’s lead.
Our intention had always been to have three hens. Early on, we had joked about hoping we didn’t accidentally get a rooster.
More and more, it seemed like the rooster comments were made with all eyes on Babraham — who definitely seemed to be growing bigger, and more quickly than the other two.
And then came that fateful afternoon.
Jaz and I were in the kitchen, fixing something to eat after school and work, when we heard a distinctive crowing noise. You didn’t have to grow up on a farm to know what that noise was.
Your basic “cock-a-doodle-doo” had just come from Babraham.
Jasmine and I looked at each other for a moment, then she wailed:
“My chicken’s a dude!!!”