OLD CHATHAM—Many chickens have squawked and strutted their way to fame. The Little Red Hen, Chicken Little, Foghorn Leghorn, Camilla the Chicken, the San Diego Chicken and Kentucky Fried Chicken spring to mind.
Now a new poultry star, one that challenges dog’s standing as man’s best pal, is vying to have its name added to the list–whenever it finally gets a name.
This devoted chicken we’ll call Nameless was born the week before Labor Day weekend. Its mother is a Bantam or Banty hen and its father is a “strapping” rooster of an unknown variety, according to Heather Kromer, 41, of Cold Water Creek Farm in East Nassau, where Nameless resides.
The Kromers, Heather and her husband, James, and their three kids: Sam, 14; Buffy, 13, and Ben, 9, have a flock of free range hens and a couple of roosters, so along with baskets of eggs, the family inevitably ends up with a few chicks now and then, Mrs. Kromer told The Columbia Paper this week.
Nameless, then just a tennis-ball-sized heather gray chick, somehow became separated from its mother and siblings and was roughed up by one of her three dogs, Rolo, a Chihuahua/terrier mix, which “likes to play,” Mrs. Kromer said.
No match for tag with the dog, the chick cried fowl and staggered away from the play date with a limp and one of its wings askew.
Mrs. Kromer heard it peeping loudly outside for its mother.
She tried several times to catch it but was not quick enough. The chick then took to hiding in the grass and was not easily spotted. When Mrs. Kromer finally rustled up the chick it was evening and she put it in the coop where it could find its mother hen and snuggle up for the night.
But the next morning she found the chick sitting where she had placed it. Its mother had not come to its rescue and the little chick, clad only its fluffy down, no feathers yet, had not been welcomed back to its mother’s nest.
The chick seemed to be on its last drumstick and was not moving, said Mrs. Kromer, noting she instinctively picked the chick up and put it in her bra to warm it up. After a while it started to peep and she moved it to a cozy box with a soft towel and heating pad, where it regained strength.
With the onset of Labor Day weekend Mrs. Kromer was committed to a three-day camping trip with her family and turned over the care of the chick to her neighbor and trusted-friend June, who replaced the chick’s box with a cat carrier and got the bird to peck at some sunflower seeds and scratch at some dirt in the yard.
By the time Mrs. Kromer returned home that Monday, the chick was eating, drinking, still had a slight limp, its wing-wound was scabbed over, and it was generally on the mend.
Thinking it would be best to get the chick re-acclimated to the coop and the flock, Mrs. Kromer placed the chick in its cat carrier in the coop with the entrance opened so it could reunite with its feathered-friends and relatives at its own pace.
But there was no acceptance of the chick by its mother, which instead attacked the chick. None of the chickens in the flock welcomed the wounded bird, said Mrs. Kromer. Despite being ostracized by the flock, the chick got the last chuckle.
Nameless’ new reality had hatched when the bird began living in the house, being carried around on Mrs. Kromer’s hand or perched on her shoulder as she went about her daily business.
The family dogs: Chica the Chihuahua, Roxy the German Shepherd/husky mix and Rolo were all warned to lay off the chick, which became a cherished part of the family.
After sleeping in its carrier in the Kromer’s bedroom nightly, Nameless is liberated each morning by Mrs. Kromer and follows her into the bathroom as she gets ready for work.
If she doesn’t pay enough attention to the chick it scrambles up her pant leg, she said.
The chick has come out of its shell and its center-of-attention status makes the dogs jealous but they are unable to object as it pecks at their rawhide chews and has the run of the house.
Mrs. Kromer and the chicken enjoy gardening together, she pulls weeds while the chicken excitedly eats bugs. The chicken is also a fan of pizza.
Wherever she goes, so goes Nameless, who rides in the car, preferring to roost on the steering wheel, Mrs. Kromer said. That includes going to work, which is how The Columbia Paper became aware of this peculiar relationship.
Mrs. Kromer is a clerk at a local public business that she requested we not identify, and while she was working last week, the chick, now about the size of a volleyball, dashed across the floor during a business transaction, much to the surprise of a visitor.
Having a chicken around all the time has become ordinary. The Kromer kids take the house chicken in stride and accept that it goes along whenever they go.
“I guess we’re just poultry people,” she said.
Mrs. Kromer has not yet named the chicken because she doesn’t know if it’s a hen or a rooster, though she suspects the bird will one day be crowing at the crack of dawn rather than laying eggs.
Also, she wants to find just the right name and has asked for the public’s help. Anyone who has a suggestion should send it to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Diane Valden email email@example.com.