Monthly Archives: April 2016

To Neuter a Rooster

The question was how do you neuter a rooster. Ronnie and Diane thought they were getting hens but they ended up with three roosters instead. Reminds me of the Dovers. A neighbor gave them five baby chicks, supposedly one rooster, four hens. Oops! Got it turned around. One hen and four roosters.

Identifying sexes of baby chicks and rabbits is difficult if one isn’t an expert in the field. Contrary to common thought, a mixed practice veterinarian, for instance, should not be expected to be an expert on identifying gender in those tiny critters. Some friends asked Charles, my veterinarian husband, to sex some bunnies years ago. He blithely complied, though as I remember, he did warn them he didn’t have a good track record in that department. Well, when it turned out that his male was having babies and his female was a lively buck, that family ribbed their vet mercilessly and still remind him of his mistake. Always with a great laugh, of course!

He is very good at laughing at his own goofs. His good humor helps him never to be irritated by the strange requests and questions that come his way when folks realize he’s a vet, and he always tries to help, sometimes by simply referring someone to an expert, whether dog trainer, bird rescuer, or equine bone specialist. He may not be “tuned in” to the tiny fluffs but he loves the people who, in his view, are his most important responsibility.

Wherever we are, whether attending a Chamber of Commerce dinner, fellowship time at church, a restaurant, flying to Hawaii, or waiting in a visitation line at a funeral, Charles graciously responds to the most earnestly posed questions ever asked. Subjects range from how long a cat will be in heat (my face used to grow hot as he launched into that answer with folks suddenly turning to listen, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it after fifty years!); to how to control a dog with storm phobia; to how to diminish the population of a pasture full of donkeys, or whether or not an 18-year-old cat could survive surgery.

So here’s this question by phone of how to neuter a rooster. Actually, the caller was his brother so he could goof around with him more than most.

“There’s all those feathers,” Charles said. “How do you ever figure out where everything is? Especially when there’s no doubt where his claws and wicked beak are.”

Ronnie must have declared that his rooster was very tame, an innocent pet–except for his recent disturbances with another rooster.

I heard Charles laugh in pure delight. “Sure he is! Just try tying him up and see what a sweet cuddly he is. And watch out for your eyes!”

After considering a few impossible alternatives for neutering a rooster, Charles offered his solution to the problem. “Instead of all that torture for the poor rooster, why don’t you just finish him off kindly and make chicken and dumplings?”

I can imagine Diane in the background saying, “No, no, no!”

As it was, they pulled up stakes and moved to Michigan. I didn’t ever hear what happened to the rooster.

But–speaking of roosters–there’s one rooster Charles and I will never forget and he was not a patient or the subject of any problem.

We had been vacationing several days on the beautiful garden isle, Hawaii’s Kauai, and it was time to fly back to Honolulu. We had enjoyed a helicopter ride viewing waterfalls crashing and snaking into super green valleys, we’d hiked on a lonely beach, and eaten delicious fresh fruit at roadside stands. And we’d been fascinated everywhere we went by many free range chickens along the roads, grazing on motel grounds, pecking around in every little park. The story was that once a huge storm hit Kauai and scattered chickens to the four winds. Since then it’s against the law to kill a fowl.

We’d located a church near the airport where we could worship our Lord before we flew that Sunday. The pastor that day spoke at length about the apostle Peter. In relating Peter’s denial of Jesus, he described the courtyard scene. Just as he spoke of the crowing of the rooster, a very lively rooster crowed outside an open window–right on cue! We grinned at each other, then looked around to see how others of this very diverse congregation reacted. No one showed the least sign of having heard that rooster, even the many children. Apparently, they were so used to hearing roosters, that single clear crow at just the right moment meant nothing to them. But it was a memorable sound effect for us!

As to the Dovers and their four roosters, I believe those feathered friends are going to live as long as they let each other. No chicken and dumplings there!


Those roosters start their day about 4:00 a.m. We’ve had the privilege of visiting the Dovers on their North Georgia farm and there’s never any need for an alarm. When those fellows tune up, they crow on different notes, not at the same time like a barber shop quartet, but one after another like trumpets in a symphony orchestra, except perhaps more competitive than an orchestra would allow. At right is a picture I snapped of three of the lordly roosters admiring their sweet little hen!

And my veterinarian is still answering questions, very valid ones like what is the best remedy for pets pestered by fleas, and the funny ones like how to stop a dog from chasing squirrels or how often a rabbit needs a bath. Or…if you do neuter a rooster, will he stop crowing?

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