Meet Walter, the $5 rooster.
While at the animal auction yesterday, they had what they called a "poultry and rabbit swap and shop" which is exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of people with poultry and rabbits in every conceivable container (think laundry baskets filled with ducks) "swapping and shopping".
In the parking lot of the auction, they had hundreds of containers set out, each containing everything from banty chickens to swans and priced accordingly. I don't personally keep tabs on the poultry marketplace and let me tell you, WOW is all I can say on prices for these animals. I learned quickly that the $3 a piece I paid for my baby chicks and the subsequent feed I had put into them was a great deal as the adult version of our hens apparently retails for $45 each. Ducks bring anywhere from $25-$75 (depending on if they are "show quality" or not (though I could absolutely not tell the difference between the "show quality" ducks in the laundry basket and the lowly peasant ducks in the next laundry basket.) Swans are worth a ridiculous amount--$600-$1000 EACH. And that even lowly extra roosters, the "excess" of the poultry world, were still worth $15-$20.
Walter was alone in a tiny homemade wire and wood chicken crate next to a big crate filled with what were obviously his male siblings. They were priced at $25 each. Walter had a $5 tag on his cage which he was desperately trying to tear off as if the low price embarrassed him.
I only want a rooster because I want our hens to hopefully lay some fertile eggs in the spring and raise their own chicks. My budget for said rooster is not very high because I know I can just wait until spring and buy some straight run chicks and raise my own. So Walter's $5 price tag appealed to me.
At first glance, I couldn't see anything particularly wrong with Walter that explained his low price--he was a good size, looked healthy and had nice plumage. But the tiny cage he was in didn't allow for much inspection and I figured "Hey, he costs less than going to Starbucks.". And so Walter came home in the back of our Honda Civic.
Walter had already earned high temperament marks for his diligent work on his price tag at the swap--I appreciate an animal that spends his time working on a project instead of quivering in fear in weird circumstances. He got more high marks for settling in quietly and napping for most of the 2 hour drive home. And he got his final "A" by settling in with the hens last night with nary a feather ruffled.
Oh but today. Oh Walter, you are failing.
I wasn't going to let Walter out with the girls until he knew his "home coop" better but he got really worked up when they left and he did not, so I let him out. And it is not going well. You see, one of the biggest prerogatives of any rooster is "taking care" of his ladies. He watches out for predators, he helps them keep their schedule of where to be and when and very importantly, he finds the best food and "shares" it with them---roosters like to find a yummy item and then scratch and carry on until the ladies come running and he can be all "See what I found for you, my loves!"
But Walter has no idea what he is doing. Our hens have been free range for most of their lives, they know every good food spot and how to find it. I dare say Walter has never left the coop before because he is perfectly clueless. He keeps "finding" things and trying to tell them and while they did heed his call the first few times, they are now ignoring him because all he is finding is bits of hay or funny colored rocks.
Poor Walter is out there embarrassing the hell out of himself and is quickly becoming that awkward weird guy at the party that nobody will talk to. To make matters worse, we now see why he was $5--Walter has a funky, weird toe and he is missing all of his tail feathers for some reason. He's just that weird dude. Poor, soon to be very lonely, Walter. I guess that's what you get for $5.