But from the interior of the hen-house-on-wheels his crow is answered by another. What? What's this? I only have one cockerel and he's here, outside.
I investigate. Up on the perch, with head thrown back and throat stretched to the heavens sits the Cuckoo Maran - crowing her heart out. 'Tis flying in the face of nature - a crowing hen - and there I was expecting an egg from her any day now....
I Google. It's a good place isn't it, the t'internet, for everyman and his dog to put their 'two penneth' in? The wild and wacky, the sane, the scientist and the slap-happy amateur all rub shoulders in a glorious melting pot of idea and opinion. Who knows what my search criteria: 'crowing hen' will throw up.
I'd rather hoped to have found a more rational explanation than 'it's the Devil's work...'
A crowing hen is apparently not an unheard of phenomena - Google throws up over 50,000 references. (Sadly none of them suggest that 'Crowing Hen' was big chief of an obscure Native American tribe.) There are not many scientific explanations either - I'm thinking hormonal here - which might account for 'her' behaviour. (I have already begun to think of her as male.) She's well developed and quite assertive - but that's probably a characteristic of her breed. I'm none the wiser.
It seems that 'A whistling woman and a crowing hen are neither fit for God nor men'. I read with foreboding that a crowing hen might portend misfortune, or worse still, a death in the house. Oooh er....Folk tales are pretty strong magic and on a cold dark evening with long shadows in the corner of the room I feel a little spooked by this. It seems to be a global belief too. I tell myself, bearing in mind there is probably a grain of truth in most maxims, that eons of experience have shown that a hen showing this male characteristic is unlikely to be a good layer and will not be worth her keep. How sensible is that?
I'm going to keep an eye on her. Her vocal outburst may amount to nothing and a deep brown egg will prove she was just a 'tomboy' at heart and this to be a passing phase. In the meantime I've winged an email to my brother ('poultry keeper extraordinaire'), a guru in hen-world, because if he doesn't know the answer I don't know who will. And there's not much point in having an expert in the family if you can't make use of their talents is there?