DEAR JOAN: Valerie, of Hercules, need not be too concerned that the once-beautiful, white-feathered rooster’s tail feathers look bedraggled. I’ve kept chickens for 15 years or so. They molt.
The roosters will periodically lose their tail feathers and look less than glamorous for a while, but they always grow back!
On a slightly related note, I have a lacewing Polish Crested named Tina Turner — looks just like her — who only laid eggs with no yolks. The eggs cooked beautifully with a delicate custard-like taste and texture.
Tina’s over 15 years old now. Ever hear of this occurring with other chickens?
DEAR SUE: Thanks for the information about the rooster’s tail. I’m sure the folks in Hercules who were concerned about the rooster that had taken to running with a flock of turkeys will be relieved to know the loss of tail feathers is a natural thing, even if hanging with turkeys isn’t exactly.
As for the eggs with missing yolks, they are known as fairy eggs, rooster eggs or, the favorite of every 8-year-old boy I know, fart eggs.
They can be common in a young bird when she is just getting the hang of egg laying, and in older birds that are coming to the end of their fertile years. The small, yolk-less eggs can also be the product of stress.
If Tina continuously produced fairy eggs, then it would seem that she had a glitch in her reproductive system. As witnessed by her age, she certainly appears to be healthy in all other regards.
The eggs, as you know, are perfectly safe to eat, and apparently quite tasty.
DEAR JOAN: We had an outdoor cat that we brought inside. He had no idea what the litter box was and would pee next to it.
I had my husband go outside and pick up some decomposing leaves and we put them on the top of the litter in the box. Voila! He started using it. We no longer use the leaves and he is used to the box now.
Sandy Swanson, Bay Area
DEAR SANDY: I don’t know if that falls into the category of training cats or humans being wise in the ways of cats, but that was brilliant. Thanks for sharing the tip.
DEAR JOAN: “Chrissy the Christmas Mouse” was written in 1938. It seems to be based on the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” story, which I thought was not published till 1939.
Carmen, Bay Area
DEAR CARMEN: The main difference between “Chrissy” and “Rudolph,” is that “Chrissy” was a song and “Rudolph” originally was a coloring-book character, created in 1939 by Robert L. May, a Montgomery Ward copywriter, who was directed to create a give-away that would entice parents to shop there.
“Rudolph” was inspired by the “Ugly Duckling” tale about a misfit animal that finds its true beauty and purpose in time. The story of Rudolph was published as a book in 1947, and the following year a song was written about him.
“Chrissy, the Christmas Mouse” was composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, and it didn’t become popular until 1957, when Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor recorded it for the film “Tammy and the Bachelor.” The song mentions that Chrissy had a very red nose, but as it otherwise plays no role in her story, it’s hard to say there is connection between the two.