Early on, I knew that I’d be keeping one of the Cuckoo Marans, and also the dark Blue Andalusian. The Andalusian is an inquisitive and bold chicken. She’s a tad too fast on her feet and flighty for the nursing home, but I have a soft spot for curious and out-going chickens, and I love the look of her grey feathers. Of the two Marans, one was obviously the calmer and friendlier, and I tagged her quickly as a nursing home hen, but her sister is a nice bird, and her eggs will be dark chocolate in color (alas, not truly chocolate inside) so I’ve decided to add her to my flock as well.

cuckoo maran

Cuckoo Maran and Blue Adalusian, 8 weeks

The other Andalusian female is light grey. It’s not exactly what is termed “splash,” but more of a pale wash. Neither of the two Andalusians have plumage that is show quality. The dark one has white splotches on her face and the light one is too white. But, they’re active, they get along well with each other and others, and they look quite pretty together. I’ve decided to keep both.

blue andalusians

Blue Andalusians, 8 weeks

The third Andalusian in the box of chicks turned out to be a boy.

Mr. Grumpy

Mr. Grumpy has a quiet temperament. Although there is no bullying in the flock, he does appear, well, hen-pecked. Subdued. He’s easy to handle and, as of yet, no trouble. But he never, ever looks cheerful. He’s not of show quality, but has no defects, either. He would be a good addition to a backyard free-ranging flock that needs a rooster to warn the girls of danger. There’s no place here for him, and in truth, there are few places for roosters anywhere. Even if everyone who kept backyard chickens kept roos, only one boy should be housed with every ten hens. Since half of all eggs hatched are male, there’s obviously a huge disparity between available homes and the quantity of roosters. Many male chicks are killed right after hatching and others are destined for slaughter by 14 weeks of age. This is the hard truth of keeping backyard chickens. I know that this upsets many of my readers, but I am okay with it. I’m not a vegetarian. I believe there’s a place for humanely raised meat on the table. I buy beef, pork and chicken from farmers in nearby towns. If Mr. Grumpy was a different breed, I might even keep him awhile longer and harvest him for soup. I’ve never had to do that, but I would. However, Andalusians are scrawny, and no amount of feeding will give him heft. Processing a chicken is messy and unpleasant work. I’d rather not do it, especially when there’s so little to gain.

I have one more week to find him a home. Any takers? I’m willing to sell the light Andalusian to go with him as a breeding pair. If I can’t find him a place, there’s a poultry dealer in the next town over that takes roosters in for resale. With any luck, Mr. Grumpy will find a flock of his own. If not, he’s already lived a better life than most cockerels.

Meanwhile, now that I’ve decided which pullets to keep, I need to come up with names. Any suggestions for the two Andalusians and the Cuckoo Maran?


  1. Poor Mr. Grumpy. We would have taken him if we didn’t have 2 roosters already for our girls. They are free-range and roosters are great to warn the hens of danger, they also find food (worms and bugs) and start chirping for the hens to come running. Really hope he finds a place. I am one of the few that love roosters!

  2. How about Cuckoo Chanel and Versace (spell check isn’t helping). Have to give more thought to the third one.

    • OK, I have the third one: Betsey Johnson. Maybe if you renamed “Mr Grumpy” to “Jimmy Choo”, some nice lady would adopt him.

  3. I had a charming pet rooster many years ago. My son rescued him from some boys who were harassing him. I was washing my car and looked up to see my eight-year-old on his bike with the rooster perched on the handlebars coming down the hill as fast as they could. We had that rooster for more than five years and he was a wonderful and personable addition to the family.. He was so tame I was sure he had been somebody’s pet, but we were never able to find out who they were. That was many years before I began to raise hens, So he free ranged in the yard. Eventually he became one of the casualties to neighborhood dogs and a prime reason for me to now have an electric fence Protecting my flock. Since he did not have hens, he would call us To look at the juicy tidbits he found to eat. I still miss that rooster! I am sorry but I am a little too far away to help you out with Mr. grumpy. I hope you are able to find him a home, But if not he has certainly had a good life already.

  4. Hi Terry…..I think maybe `cocoa puff` for a Cuckoo Maran… in coo coo for cocoa puffs. And on a cereal note, the light Andalusian could be `cheerio` as opposed to Mr. Grumpy. I am sure you could come up with suitable cereal names for them all…….Just my warped sense of humour. :)

  5. How about Coco for the Maran (chocolate brown eggs) and maybe Paisley for the Andalusian (soft, ornamental fabric). I was wondering if Mr. Grumpy has crowed yet? He is such a pretty fella. Hope someone opens up their coop for him. I do like Chanel too! How about Coco Chanel? :O)

  6. I like Sky or Misty or for the light gray andalusian, and in keeping with the weather theme, Stormy or Rainy for the darker one.

  7. I just sent my brother this link. He ordered two roosters in the flock I am raising now…so I’m not sure he needs/wants another ( he has a grown Faverolle already) but you never know. :)

    Did your order of chicks guarantee hens?

    • No hatchery can give a 100% guarantee. Sex-links are the only breed that you can be sure of what you’re getting because the feather color is distinctly different between the sexes.

  8. I let my hens hatch out eggs one year and ended up with 2 out of 5 being roosters. I was fortunate to rehome both, but I made a decision not to hatch anymore eggs. I have 2 Wellsummers and they are named Coco and Chanel. I think the other readers’ suggestions make sense for the Cuckoo Marans:-)

  9. The breeder I am buying from only sells straight run. Because we are within driving distance, he is generously selling me pullets so that we don’t have to deal with the roos. I would have a hard time with culling them, even though I know that is what will happen to the roos that I am not getting. Different when you raise them, and since these are our first chicks, I am worried about getting attached.

    Because so few roos get to grow up, I would like to save one. I am hoping that the breeder can pick one out for me that has a nice temperament. I am still on the fence though – my children are very young and I understand that roosters can be dangerous. All of the breeds we are getting are friendly and good natured, so we’ll see.

    • As Jane’s story shows, some roosters make great pets, but others do not. You won’t know until they reach full maturity. Last year I heard from someone who’s daughter needed reconstructive surgery because the rooster switched from tame cockerel to full-out aggressive rooster seemingly overnight. When thinking about getting a roo, take into account that rarely do they do well in confined flocks. If you have a roo, it’s best for your hens if your flock free-ranges ALL DAY, as they need the space to get away from the roo, and the roo needs to have something to do other than mate.

      • I feel sad about roosters. I have a breathtakingly beautiful Gold Laced Polish roo. Got him when he was quite young, along with 6 assorted young hens. My first backyard chicken adventure. Roo was an angel for the first year. He went to sleep in my lap, and would sit calmly with me for hours soaking his foot injury in Epsom salts water. He became a hormone driven monster his second spring. I have memories of trips to the ER and scars to prove it. One of his spurs is almost 3″ long. I know he is only doing his job but he has changed the dynamic of the whole flock. My husband is not willing to fight off the roo, my little dog is terrified of him, so neither of these two will venture out if Prince is free ranging. Prince is smart. Smart enough to attack from behind. I have now trained him to stay off the deck. I just carry a broom around and if he gets in attack mode, I let him talk to the broom. It is frightening to experience, to say the least. I would love to rehome him but who would put up with this? Nobody but me. I feel responsible for him, of course. I can’t enjoy my hens because he won’t allow it, and the broom fights scare everyone, including me. I wanted the whole chicken experience and I got it. It really is fascinating to observe the dynamic of a flock with a roo, and I can see the benefits as far as protection from predators for the hens. But who protects the hens from him? I will never have another roo. My two cents worth.

        • An important 2-cents. Personally, I’d put him down. He’s had a good life, but he’s ruining the lives of others. One problem these days is that chickens are not bred for temperament. They’re bred for egg production, color, etc. Aggressive roos like yours have begat more aggressive roos. Now that cages are being banned in the big facilities, they’re taking a new look at aggression, which is determined by genetics. They can’t have territorial hens in “cage-free” systems. It turns out that simply selecting for temperament can greatly reduce cannibalism and other pecking order issues. In the past, roosters like yours would never have been allowed to breed and perpetuate that temperament.

          • Thank you, Terry. I appreciate your thoughts. If Prince ever starts brutalizing the hens, he will go. So far he takes his hostility out on me. Most of them willingly squat for him most of the time. We have not hatched any of our eggs, ever. No broody hens. Insightful as far as genetics. You point out a good reason for me not to pass him on to someone who might want him for breeding purposes. He’s a blue ribbon winner and I had considered that route as far as trying to find him a new home. Bad idea. We are beginning our 3rd summer. I may just get up the courage to chop his head off one day. But not quite yet. My daughter says coq au vin, but I would not eat a chicken I have raised. Thank you again.

  10. On the weather front for names I also like Nimbus for a dark hen. I am also curious to know what you’re naming Owly’s sisters. Someone is missing out on a terrific roo. But thanks for giving him a great life.. however short.

  11. Hi All- I do like weather and fashion themes :) My best-ever heart dog was Nimbus, so that name is retired here. Cereal names are good, too. I once named a barnful of camp ponies after cereals. There was a Cap’n Crunch and Coco Puff.

    • I love the name Nimbus and have always kept it on file for a black pet in the future. Glad to know is has aready been used for a beloved dog.

  12. Female artists’ names? Helen (Frankenthaler), Georgia (O’Keeffe), Artemisia (Gentileschi),
    Elisabeth (Vigee-Le Brun), Frida (Kahlo), Mary (Cassatt), Berthe (Morisot) to name a few.

  13. Fashion designer names: Liz (Leghorn) Claiborne, Elsa Schiaparelli, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, Nina Ricci, Hattie Carnegie–first names seem better than last ones, actually.
    Mr. Grumpy seems pensive or sorrowful, not grumpy. Those long legs! And kind of rumpled (not a criticism). If he were mine, and I wish he were, I’d rename him Ragged Andy (Andalusian) or just Andy. Good luck to him.

    • I agree – he does seem pensive and sad. I wish I could adopt him, but I don’t have the space, and doubt that Canadian Border Services would let me bring him home with me anyway. I am still hopeful that someone who has a rooster-friendly environment will take a liking to him. He seems to be unassuming and docile. Good (re)name for him, by the way. I think the name Andy suits him too. Best of luck, Mr. Grumpy / little Andy.

  14. Bird names, since you already have Owly? Dovie, Ava, Robin, Wren, Alouette?

  15. What about Dovey or Dovie (I don’t know how one would spell it) for the light grey one. That’s what I think when I look at her.

  16. How many new chickens are being added to the little barn? Who is owly?

  17. Off topic but where did you get the leg band that is on him? Looks like I’m going to end up with 2 Black Stars and 2 Orpingtons, but if I can’t tell who is who I am thinking of putting leg bands. Thanks.

  18. Wish I could remember where I read this, but about flock dynamics, three roosters are less likely to fight than just two, only you still need “enough” hens for each rooster.

    We had an aggressive bantam rooster. Never injured anyone, since people were frightened off when he rushed at them. But once I was big enough to decide he didn’t frighten me, I didn’t run away, and he stopped rushing people.
    Can’t the spurs be trimmed? That can’t possibly be as bad as de-beaking.

    It would be cool if Mr.Grumpy kept his sweet temper and could be used for breeding chickens with a mild temperament. I’d call it the Grumpy! And while we’re at it, let’s select for roosters who don’t crow too much…

  19. Yes, spurs can be trimmed by a vet or someone with the right clippers or saw and who know how far back to go to avoid bleeding. My barred rock had weird spurs as straight and as thick as pencils that grew inward, each aiming at the other leg. He was always stumbling and tripping when they grew to be about three inches long. The vet had to saw them back to a safe distance with appropriate medicated sealer.

    • I’ve had to trim Siouxsie’s spurs because they got too long. (I’ve written a blog post about how to trim spurs.) But, they aren’t removed altogether and a violent roo can do damage, long sharp spurs or not.

  20. How about naming them after great scientists? The two grey Andalusians could be Pierre and Marie Curie, the dark one could be Caroline Herschel because she has stars on her head, and other choices could be Jane Goodall, Ada Byron (Steve might appreciate Ada), Barbara McClintock, Rachel Carson, Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Irene Joilot-Curie, Elizabeth Blackwell (Lizzie), Emilie du Chatelet, Dorothy Hodgkin, Maria Meyer, or Mary Anning. Now that’s a group of smart chicks!

  21. Delurking to tell you I love the sight, though we have no chickens, and am compulsive about keeping tabs on the goings on at your brilliant place. As for names, how about a few Greek Goddesses? Calliope, Hera, Nike & Aphrodite? Hardly original, but kind of cute! I agree that Mr. Grumpy needs a new name to improve his prospects!

  22. Roosters do make a very good early warning system for earthquakes! Our previously-mentioned barred rock who was kept in a darkened place overnight because of crowing, awakened us here in the Pasadena area on October 1, 1987 at 2 a.m. and at 5 a.m. before our major Whittier Quake at about 7:30 a.m. Once outside in the yard, he’d leap in the air with fear and dance around with every aftershock. “The sky is falling” in reverse.

  23. Call me old fashioned, but I like the first theme Terry had going… just plain old fashioned girl names. I like Alice & Amelia Andalusian, and Mabel Marans. For Mr. Grumpy’s name change, maybe August? or Rhett?

  24. White hen :Miranda
    Black hen:Inky
    Speckled hen:Brenda
    Hope these names help :)
    P.S. I noticed Pip’s butt in that picture ;)

    • Sunshine, on my shoulder, makes me happy…lalalala

  25. I’d name them Dapple, Swan & Star. As for roo’s I no longer live on a farm. I live at the edge of town in a neighborhood. My neighbor HAD 3 roo’s and a hen. The roo’s tried to attack me and the neighborhood kids daily. He’s free ranging them all over the neighborhood. The hen was in such bad condition she could barely walk. A few weeks ago he allowed the roo’s to fight in the driveway. Not something we all enjoyed on Sunday morning. One roo died, one is crippled. The “winner” disappeared. Now he has a new box of chicks. Some people should not be allowed to have any animals. Because of budget the animal police are no more. Roosters do not belong in a neighborhood. At one time I had 40 hens and would never have a rooster. They are dangerous in my opinion.

    • That’s terrible, I think if that happened in Vermont……they would mysteriously disappear!

    • I’d thought of that :) When I do school visits, I encourage the children to draw imaginary flock of their own, and to name the hens after favorite book characters, like Eloise, and Pippi. There’s always someone in the group that thinks that Captain Underpants would be a good chicken name!

  26. How bout cookies for names. Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Snickerdoodle, Oreo, Sugar, Pizzelle, Pinwheel, Spice, etc.

  27. So jealous that your chicks are 8 weeks and still waiting to be named. My children find it absolutely necessary to name the chicks practically the moment they see them. Granted, some names stick and some have to be renamed due to personality and temperament:) “Fluffball” does not well describe a chicken for very long!

    Dying to find Cuckoo Marans locally.

    Lovely post as always.

  28. How about great women ARE a GREAT woman author after all??? Charlotte? Bronte? Jane? Margaret?

  29. I love our Cuckoo Marans, Terry. Besides the great chocolate eggs, she really has a great temperament. If I sit among the hens, she always jumps up on my leg and hangs out preening and chirping. Great pictures of all of your birds!

  30. Those first two pictures remind me of salt and pepper shakers…Ha! particularly the second one. I guess you could name those two Salt and Pepper. :)