So, some of you may or may not know about a particular Mr. Darcy in my life. (Not the Mr. Darcy who trounces around in clingy pants circa BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini series – but the same namesake all the same.) I write this on my Mr. Darcy’s hatchday; he’s now a year old. But, Darcy didn’t come into my life until roughly mid/end December 2019. I get a lot of strange looks from people when I tell them that I have a pet rooster – and the strange is cranked up a notch when I then tell them he lives indoors with me, akin to a dog.
Let me start by saying Mr. Darcy is a serama rooster. He’s an indoor pet – family member really – and lives quite the spoiled roo life. He’s seriously the only creature I’ve encountered that’s terrified of the outdoors. He would much rather chill on the back of my computer chair in the safety of my office as I work on research, editing, or while gaming.
Before Darcy, I was having a really hard time adjusting to life without Kip. Kip was my ISA Brown hen that was kept as a house chicken – yes, house chickens are a real thing! – who had passed away due to oviduct issues. I lost Kip a few days before Thanksgiving. Like many others who mourn the loss of a loved one, I really struggled with depression. I knew I would want another chicken in my life, I just felt like I would be wronging Kip by getting another. I wasn’t sure when the right time would be, or if there would be a right time at all. But I knew I needed a companion, that a companion would help me re-establish a daily routine. I’m typically home alone during the day while my son is at school, and my husband at work. (Well, until the world utterly changed in 2020.)
A friend reached out, knowing that I would eventually be interested in adopting another chicken and put me in touch with a serama breeder. I tentatively reached out to her and explained my situation and how I would be interested in adopting a serama roo in the future. She informed me that she had a clutch of seramas that had hatched in September 2019 and was actually looking for homes for the roos because they were getting to the age where they would begin to be territorial. Even though she ran a large farm, she did not have the space for that many roosters to establish their own flocks. She offered either a roo from that clutch at no cost (since I would be doing her a service), or she could breed one for me later on down the line.
Naturally, I opted for adopting one right away. If I was going to help even just one roo, I was going to do it. Roosters are some of the most inhumanely treated animals on this planet. I am not, by any means, saying the breeder would cull the roos, but I did not want to think of what could happen to them if they were sold or given to others. And I knew I couldn’t take more than one.
So, my husband and I trekked up north to her farm to meet the clutch. I brought a small carrier, the same one I had purchased for when I brought Kip home as a tiny chick; chicken treats, and a warm blanket. Once I stepped into the barn where the seramas were being kept, I heard the other chickens in a different part of the barn. I instantly started crying. They were ISA Browns. I didn’t even have to see them to know it. They all sounded just like Kip. My husband asked me if this was what I really wanted and I assured him of course it was because I was going to provide, at least to one very lucky roo, the most spoiled lifestyle a roo could ever ask for.
Once I was in the gated area for the seramas – they have to be kept separately because they are so much smaller than a typical chicken, I brought out the treats and the breeder pointed out which roos were available to go home with me.
All of the seramas were super skittish, which is pretty typical for their nature – considering their size. Except for one. The one that ended up being Mr. Darcy. He gingerly walked up to the dish of cracked corn, grain, and dried mealworm mixture I held out for him. The breeder asked if I wanted to hold him, and she scooped him up and placed him in my hands before I could answer. That’s when I started crying a second time. The little roo didn’t take off in a panic, peck at me, or show any other signs of being upset at being held. Instead, he laid right down in my hands. I buried my face into his feathers and just cried.
The breeder lady started laughing and said that it was nice to finally meet someone who loved chickens as much as she did – and that she was so happy to see the roo go to home that was going to love him. That rooster came home with us that day. And I hadn’t even considered a potential name for a rooster until the ride home. Mr. Darcy just seemed fitting – and with Austen being one of my favorite authors, it just fit too well.
He quickly learned his name and will come running if called. And he loves to sing the song of his people every morning until I come down to say hello and begin the day. He sleeps in a small pet bed in a corner of my office, and has unrestrained access to food and water – though he prefers steak. He knows when it’s dinner time and will hop up onto the table to take part in the meal. He doesn’t ever steal from a plate, he stares at you until you share what you have with him. He has to cuddle either myself or my husband around dusk for a small time before he will let you place him in his bed for the night.
Even though he weighs only 12 ounces, he’s got the biggest, kindest personality of a chicken I have ever met.