At least we think she did. Yes, it was awkward, and yes, it could have been a prolonged squawk. Or cough. ("What was that?" my son asked.) I don't know. More observation is necessary. Hens do not crow.
Back in August I brought four chicks home to live in the yard in a compact little coop and run. Eggs, fresh eggs are what I was after. All the chicks were supposed to be pullets, but the seller said something along the lines of don't get mad at me if they're not. Not a commercial hatchery, needless to say.
Ever since she was a wee chick, I have suspected that Loretta may be a rooster. Her wattles started growing in before everyone else's, even though she was younger than the rest. She is fond of the flying chest butt with the other chickens. She used to take off like lightning.
Hmm. Perhaps a Rhett is among us?
On the other hand, Loretta (a Black Orpington) is not much of a leader as roosters usually are. That falls more to the Barred Rock Petunia, but perhaps that's just the seniority effect. (The other Barred Rock, Bossy, is the most cautious, which sort of explains her reluctance to free-range last week.) Fuzzy, the Blue Orpington, is the trail-blazer: the first to try yogurt, the first to roost in the rhododendron bush (and the last to leave it), the first to sample grape tomatoes, now a favorite treat.
While we keep close tabs on Loretta, I can with certainty recommend a picture book: Zinnia and Dot, by Lisa Campbell Ernst. Zinnia and Dot are two fat hens who argue about everything. They've lived together forever but never particularly liked each other. But! An intruder into the coop brings the two together, reluctantly at first, then with growing camaraderie. The picture of the two clucksters sharing nesting duties is worth the trip to the library. Dot looks to be a Barred Rock, by the way, and Zinnia a Rhode Island Red—and definitely both are hens.