Of the naming of chooks …

… there is no end. IsaBrowns

Names matter. My parents apparently disagreed about what my name should be, one wanting to call me Beverley, the other one (I’m not sure who wanted which) wanted to call me Robyn. They compromised and gave me both names, Beverley Robyn, then proceeded to call me by my middle name. Who knows what relationship dynamics could be drawn from that story! I’ve decided to go with Robyn, which feels so much more like me (though the order on my birth certificate is the official one I must answer to). Beverley was always what adults called me, usually when I was in trouble. Or banks and Centrelink, ditto. Bev was what my friends called me, but it’s such a non-word, that seems to collapse before it’s even begun (though a friend of mine who is also Bev manages to give the word a bit more oomph).

I’ll pass over the naming of my children for now, and go straight to my current naming requirements: chooks. We have two new Isa Browns, currently nameless. They’re numbers 5 and 6 in the Murrumbateman tribe, though numbers 1 and 2 have since passed on to fox-free ranges in the clouds. They were Lacewing Wyandottes, birds bred mostly for their looks: their feathers that loop beautifully like lace. Wyandottes snoozingCleopatra was black and gold, and just demanded a queenly name; Esmerelda was brown and blue, just as beautiful but less grand. Of course, day to day they became Cleo and Esmay and surprised us by laying eggs fairly regularly, Esmay’s white and delicate, Cleo’s brown and larger. Cleo died of delayed shock, thanks to the neighbourhood dog, and Esmay slipped into a sort of chook dementia, still able to eat and drink, but prone to walk into walls, or forget where the coop was. She seemed happy enough, in chook terms, and died quietly a few months later.

Australorps pas-de-deuxNumbers 3 and 4 are Australorps, big and greeny-black. We tried for dramatic names to go with their colour: Medea — well, it’s hard to be any more dramatic than her — and Pocahontas, inspired I think by the black hair of her namesake. They’re professional egg-layers and supposed to lay like the clappers, taking only Christmas day off, though ours lay when the fancy took them. Not often, to begin with. Not at all anymore. Perhaps they objected to the names. Chook FrumpThey’ve taken on the look of Edwardian widows, moving slowly and dressed in black silk with voluminous skirts, puffed sleeves, ruffs and pleats. Perhaps they think appellations akin to Lady Bracknell and Queen Victoria would be more suited to their station.

And so they’re not sure about numbers 5 and 6 disturbing their peace. The Isa Browns are caramel-coloured, young and thin with long legs and a tendency to stand with one leg lifted as if they’re doing the Tai-Chi move, white crane spreads its wings, or maybe playing fairies. They’re completely intimidated and tend to find a corner wherever the black dowagers are not. Perhaps names would give them confidence, but I don’t know what. I’ve thought of Tinkerbell, Titania or Ariel … but no, that last one would be unwise. And they need a name they can grow into; after all, Tai Chi moves are really a form of martial arts.

Here they are. All suggestions gratefully received. Leg up chook

8 thoughts on “Of the naming of chooks …

  1. Hi Robyn, I love your posts! Half of my husband’s family are known by their middle names, and there seemed to be no sensible reason I could fathom. My parents planned Peter John but got me instead. It took three weeks to come up with mine apparently, but after another daughter, there were twins – Peter and John. Our chooks were also problematic, but after Henny Penny and Jenny got eaten by the urban foxes, we lost our impetus to attach. There was one we called ‘the bossy cow’ that made life hell for her two companions, and now we have three anonymous ‘girls’.

    Thank you for your help in getting me started on blogging. I do enjoy it immensely. I try to learn a new skill each time, and always hope not to lose one old one in the process. On busy weeks I feel as if my brain’s contents must shake out like confetti. Somewhere the Greek alphabet went with them!



    1. Pauline, I sometimes wonder whether the middle name becomes a kind of nickname that is used within the family, or the less formal, more familiar name. I think that’s how it might have been in my case. But then, my mother’s name was Irene Joan, but she was always known as Molly, though I’m not sure why.
      Thanks for the kind words. I love that idea of your thoughts like confetti — just perfect! But I’m sure the Greek alphabet is still there somewhere, just waiting to be nudged again; never lost, just sleeping …


  2. Call them after Tai-Chi moves also inspired by Native American multiword names. I’d love to meet a ginger hen called White Crane Spreads Wings.
    But seriously. What gorgeous names you give. I had a leghorn named Calliope once. I didn’t realise at the time it was one of the muses but I like the name even more knowing it.
    At two my granddaughter renamed herself Lizzy The Dog, and allowed people to call her Lizzy and remained Lizzy for three years before taking back her original name. Funny thing is, she had never even heard the word Lizzy as far as her parents know, and her middle name (known to few) is Elizabeth!


    1. Belinda, I had wondered myself about calling one of them White Crane. Or perhaps Ms Wings? And Calliope is good, too. I can see the problem will be choosing among the excellent suggestions. But I love that story of your granddaughter. Lizzy the Dog is great! Intuition or some uncanny awareness of her own name aside, perhaps the sound, especially the ‘z’s, appealed to her. My eldest daughter had an imaginary friend called Zoggy, I think it was. It reminds me now, with a shiver, of Zig and Zag — something not quite right about those clowns. And I remember them so clearly!


      1. Ms Wings would become Mrs Wings when she grows up and gets clucky, I hope. Very sweet.
        I didn’t ever see Zig and Zag. we lived in remote North Queensland and could only get one station and it only when the generator was on (night time). Mum and Dad chose ABC so I could do a good impression of Norman Gunston. but was completely culturally ignorant when it came to anything much else.


  3. Well, you didn’t miss much, Belinda and probably gained a whole lot more in N Queensland.
    As for clucky Ms Wings, I’m not sure whether we’re ready for the dulcet sounds of a rooster …


  4. Loved this, Robyn.

    On human names, you’re definitely a Robyn, not a Beverley. As to my name, I was going to be called Miles – Miles Grey Featherstone. For some reason, they thought Nigel was an improvement. I’m pretty sure they wanted me to vote Tory even at six months. Ah: parents don’t always get what they want.

    On chook names, I’ve always avoided giving my girls names, though Tim, who professes to not being a chook lover, seems to come up with some good ones. Except they’re not appropriate for a public forum such as this. I did enjoy this in your post: ‘Perhaps names would give them confidence, but I don’t know what.’ Maybe I should start naming mine…properly.

    Also appreciated this: ‘a tendency to stand with one leg lifted as if they’re doing the Tai-Chi move’. Having had a few ISA browns in my day, it’s a perfectly apt description.


    1. Thanks Nigel. It seems you dodged a bullet there; Miles Grey Featherstone would be obliged to smoke a pipe and wear proper slipper, don’t you think? But it’s interesting how much names matter, isn’t it? Or at least for me — I think I spent much of my early life trying to get away from that Bev-quality, and I’ve spent the last few decades growing into Robyn. Or maybe that’s just a way of putting words around the process of growing into myself (rather than growing up!).
      And thanks especially for letting me know which sentences really work; that’s a gift.


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