“That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet…”
Meet Rudy Valentino, our new Rooster. We had been tossing around the idea of getting a rooster for a while. Although I am ashamed to admit it, Grace (the cat) is a chicken chaser.
I don’t think she really means to do them any harm. Their jerky movements and jiggly jives just really trigger her instincts to stalk and pounce. They run away and she always stops…never continues to run after them. Harmless as it might seem, it has spooked the chickens and we suspect that this is part of the reason we are now only getting one egg a day. Granted, they’ve gone through molts and some of the gals are ‘no spring chickens,’ but even the younger hens are not laying.
Grace is an outside cat by day. You might ask, “Why don’t you just leave her inside all the time?” I’ll tell you why…because letting her burn off some energy during the day means we don’t have a trilling meow right in our face wake us up out of a dead sleep at 2:00 a.m. It means that she’s too doggone tired to tear across our air mattress in the middle of the night, jerking us awake and wondering what that terrifying rumbling was. It means that we don’t get pounced on and attacked just because we flip flop from one side to the other during sleep.
So…we finally took the plunge and decided to get a rooster. Roosters protect and look after the flock. One of neighbors told us that he has had roosters die trying to protect the hens, and that the roosters will not go in the hen house at night until all of the gals are inside.
My dear friend Jeanie suggested I name my rooster ‘Valentine’ in honor of her last name…to spread the love around. I pondered this for quite a while. I liked the idea very much…but I was afraid my Roo might feel emasculated being called ‘Valentine,’ not to mention losing face with the girls. Then I thought, “How about ‘Valentino’? That’s a nice, masculine, virile name.” When we picked up the rooster, however, I looked at him and all I could see in his face was Rudy. More specifically, ‘Rudy Toot Toot.’
You have to understand that I rarely call my animals by their given name. Poor Simba transitioned to Timbale Bodine. My hens, well….
Betty – Betty Lou Who
Lucille- Lucy Lou
Gerty – Hurdy Gertie or Gertie Gert
Henrietta – Henri or Rietta
Beatrice – Bea Bea or Baby Bea
Mabel – Able Mable
So….technically, our rooster is Rudy Valentino. My nickname for him is ‘Rudy Toot Toot.’ In actuality, that name might be more damaging to his psyche than ‘Valentine,’ however, ‘Rudy’ just feels right. I’m sure that ‘Valentino’ will morph into something, too. Maybe I’ll just alternate between those two names.
We kept him quarantined for several days (long story for another time, but strongly advised when you add a chicken to your flock.) During that time, he watched everything. The ladies saw him and were vaguely curious, but not particularly impressed. He found his crow while in quarantine, too. We brought him in at night in the cage and he was crowing in our living room the next morning at 5:30 a.m….not a crack of dawn in sight, either. It was pitch black outside. This was much more disturbing in the dead of sleep than anything the cat could have thought up. Needless to say, that quickly shot down everything I thought I knew about roosters.
When we finally let Rudy out, he checked out everything else before checking out the ladies. Then, they finally met. He quickly went into his ‘moves’ to impress the ladies. They were not impressed. I have to say that I don’t blame them one bit! His moves have all the charm of Curly from, ‘The Three Stooges.”
When he starts his mating dance, he jumps on one leg, making that leg stiff. It’s kind of jerky, and startling, to tell you the truth! He flares one wing toward the ground, leans to one side and sort of hops once on the stiff leg until he loses his balance. Then he sort of circles the hen of his affection, making quick lunges with his shoulder in her direction. Bud and I can’t help but laugh, it’s so comical. One time Rudy even chest-bumped one of them. They, for the most part, just looked at him.
Rietta was hopelessly throwing herself at him, all the while nervously whining, which she does when she is terrified (which is most of the time.) She even went up to him once and put her backside facing right at him, whining nervously, the hussy. I was embarrassed for her. Rudy didn’t take the bait…wasn’t even remotely interested, in fact, he chased her away at one point. Spurned! This poor chick already suffers from major rejection. Though I wouldn’t tell Henri this, she has a face that only a mother could love. That makes her all the more endearing to me, though.
Rudy should have taken his chance, because all of the ladies deserted him at one point. He was so dejected that he took to the hill behind us into the woods and disappeared. Bud went up the hill looking for him. While Bud was gone, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, looked up and saw Rudy standing stoically up on the cliff looking down on his new domain. I went up and shooed him back down the hill to be with the girls.
The girls seemed strangely drawn to him, but refused his advances. He did get lucky with Mabel (the fertile hen that is laying all of the eggs these days), but I’m not entirely sure it was consensual. Rudy also has major eyes for the two Buff Orpington ladies (his breed), but so far, they are not giving in to his leadership, authority…or his amorous ‘Curly-esque’ moves.
At the end of the day, dutifully, Rudy patrolled outside until all of the ladies had gone inside the hen house. Bud and I were delighted to find out that the rumors we’d heard are true! The hens normally bicker and fight at night on the roost, vying for their favorite spot. At dusk that night, as Rudy was patrolling the outside of the hen house waiting for the last hen to go inside, there was not a peep from the ladies, as they waited for their man to come inside.