Sally was a chicken that my sister Sophie caught at the Fourth of July chicken round-up. We thought that Sally was a hen – she looked like a hen, acted like a hen and we were told she was a hen.
A couple months after winning Sally, I noticed that she was not as mild-mannered as before, but was rather bossy towards the other chickens and even me. I shrugged it off as part of the competition of settling the flock’s pecking order.
Then I slowly noticed Sally Chicken was a bit aggressive with food. I assumed she was just a greedy pig of chicken. Sally was growing quite quickly and had eclipsed Frida Chicken in size, even though Frida had started out bigger than her. I figured rapid weight gain comes with eating like I never feed her.
Sally then started barely tolerating being handle by the humans. She never was particularly cuddly (unlike the Silkie), but now she was wildly panting whenever held. She would struggle to get free from my arms as though they were literally the chains of her bondage. I researched Sally’s breed (Silver Laced Wyandotte) and decided from my on-line reading that Wyandottes were simply a bad attitude breed of chicken. However, the breed was touted as being rather good layers, and so I thought it would be worth tolerating Sally’s naughty behavior.
I later noticed that the other chickens seemed to be done getting in their feathers, but Sally still had lots of pin feathers – especially on her neck and back. Maybe she was a slow bloomer? Sally’s unusual feather growth was particularly noticeable as time passed. I remember one summer day looking at her and thinking, “Wow! Sally sure does have some long and pretty tail feathers – much longer and prettier than the other hens. Who knew Wyandotte hens were so striking.”
Sally then took to chasing all the other hens around the yard, particular Frida (who was about the same age), and pinning them down. What a bully! I would shoo her off poor Frida scolding, “Bad Sally!” over her squawking protestations at having freed her captive.
Early one August morning, I awoke startled from a dead sleep by an unbelievably resounding cock-a-doodle-do from my back yard. I hopped from bed and peered out the back window blinds. There was Sally, neck stretched out, wings flapping and uttering a crow that seemed too loud to be coming from her…er, him. It was in that moment that it finally dawned on me – Sally was really a Salvatore. What can I say, I was no chicken Sherlock Holmes. Several neighbors came by first thing that day to complain: “Can’t you get him to stop?” and “Why is he still crowing – it’s midday?” Ugh. Poor Sal – no one appreciated his freshly revealed rooster-ness.
Big Sal, as he then came to be known as, found a new home with friends of my neighbors. They lived outside the city limits on a large property with 27 hens and no roosters (their’s had recently passed away). It was a good placement for Sal.
I must admit though, despite all of his panting, squawking, crowing and difficult attitude, I shed a couple tears over being forced to give up Big Sal. Sal was my least favorite chicken and as I was stuffing him into a large fruit box for transport to his new home, I felt incredible sadness at being forced to give him away as quickly as possible.
It is in his honor that I call the bonus section of the show – Sally’s Sidenotes. We love you Big Sal – and even miss your big attitude!