Prize pullet purchase at poultry ?museum?

It was a dark and stormy night when I sat down at my computer. (Aren?t all nights dark anyway?) The wind howled through the trees and clouds raced across the sky outside my window. Brrr. Enough of that.

About a month ago, I came across a notice in my beloved Backyard Poultry magazine that a poultry show was planned in Hutchinson this month. Since my daughter wants to show chickens for 4-H, I thought it would be a great opportunity for both of us to see new breeds and get some tips on showmanship.

I was pretty sure I knew the basics, but horse showmanship is just a bit different than poultry.

The day dawned bright, warm and breezy. Simply perfect for someone who had been cooped up (pun intended) for far too long. My son decided to come too, and soon we headed out on our adventure.

This was my chance to see birds that I?d only heard about or seen pictures of. Now I?d see breeds the way they were meant to be, not the hatchery dregs running around my chicken pen. Now I could drool over new breeds and wish I had more space, more pens, and more time.

The show didn?t disappoint. Roaming through the rows of cages to the music of hundreds of crowing roosters and clucking hens, we saw familiar breeds and strange ones.

Of course, I dreamed of owning at least half of the breeds there. Crested Cuckoo Polish or Dark Cornish Bantams? Tiny Old English Game Bantams or giant, fluffy Standard Cochins? All of them were shining clean, with glossy feathers and oiled combs. Each one seemed prettier than the last. I was almost drooling at the possibilities.
I have been afflicted with a similar condition at poultry auctions I attend, but the difference was like night and day. More aptly, the difference was more like going to a garage sale (an auction) vs a museum (the show). At one, you?re there to buy someone else?s extras or castoffs cheap. At the other, most of what you see isn?t for sale, and if it is, you most likely can?t afford it.

Trust my kids to find the one exception.
There was a line of birds for sale. I almost groaned when I saw it. I knew what was coming. The only breeds I could spot here that I had any desire to own were either far out of my price range (or the kids?) or young roosters.

Folks, I have seven roosters already. The ones that live together manage to get along, but it takes a certain kind of person to appreciate the fact that each rooster has its own unique crow. I?m glad our new neighbors seem like that kind of people.
Wouldn?t you know it, Arthur got his heart set on a little mottled reddish pullet. She didn?t look like anything special to me. She?s not one of the breeds I have or want to have. I have no idea where to put her. Plus, I know whose she?s going to end up being, at least as far as food and water go. But here?s this little boy who, for some reason, has fallen head over heels in love with this chicken.
I started feeling better when a lady came up to us and started to tell us about the breed. It sounded as if the pullet might be worth it after all. Not so showy looking, but a decent layer, good tempered, and feisty enough to hold her own in the big coop.

Then the actual owner showed up?a young man in 4-H. He saw how Arthur loved this little pullet and knocked the price down. Arthur wasted no time. I think he whipped his wallet out so fast that he left burn marks on his pocket.

He pulled out wadded dollar bills, frantically counting to make sure he had enough. He did. The look on his face was priceless. My little man had purchased his first chicken. With a glow in his eyes, he named her Beauty.
I carried her with me as we waited for our borrowed cage to arrive. She won me over bit by bit. Her little feathery self was so calm and friendly. She rested comfortably and quietly in the crook of my arm, only getting upset when it was time to put her in the cage to go home.

Even though it wasn?t what I had planned, just seeing her now makes me think of my little boy and how his smile that day made the sun look dim. She was unexpected, but I think she?ll brighten a lot of our days. aOh, and if anyone out there has Cubalayas, she might need a buddy.