I’ve been hesitant to post about Gueuze in case his temperament went nasty, but today he turned 1 year old and graduated from cockerel to rooster so I think it’s time to officially introduce him. I never really planned on having a rooster, and after the ordeal with my first cockerel I definitely had no intentions of having another. But then Gueuze came along. At first he was your typical cockerel, hormonal and full of attitude. He fought with one of the other cockerels, and he bit me (a lot). I even had him on the chopping block, all set to go, but I wussed out. He was kicked out of the coop to roam the yard until I worked up the nerve to butcher him.
And then, watching him out in the yard, he slowly began to endear himself to me. He would try to chase away all the wild birds from the apple orchard. The Stellar’s Jays, in typical corvid fashion, thought this was hilarious and would torment him. They would fly down onto the ground, Gueuze would go tearing across the yard after them, then the jay would fly back into the tree cackling while Gueuze danced around angrily on the ground. They would do this until Gueuze was whipped into an absolute frothing rage, and you could just tell the jays thought it was hilarious. It was around this point that, despite my efforts to remain unattached, the name Gueuze popped into my head.
You might remember him from last year as The Most Interesting Chick in the World.
The moment I knew he was a cockerel (but refused to accept it) was when, at three weeks old, he ran up to the fence to engage Zeste in a round of fisticuffs. It’s rare for pullets to engage in fighting at that age. He learned his lesson when Zeste reached through the bars and grabbed his entire head in her beak, tearing the skin near his eye and nostril. Just as quickly as he ran in to fight, he retreated to sulk.
As he got older though, his temperament began to calm slightly. Instead of just wanting to dominate everything he learned to pick his battles. When a hawk dove down to try and snag a chicken dinner Gueuze led everyone to safety then returned to the scene, ready to battle the hawk to defend the others. What won me over in the end was how sweet he is with the hens. Even Zeste (mostly) likes him, and that’s saying something as she tends to be a bit of a misandrist. She still bites him if I pick him up though, but he takes it in stride.
He’s named after a type of Belgian beer. Gueuze is a lambic beer created by combing young (1 year old) and old (2 or 3 year old) lambics, then bottling them for a second fermentation. Its produces natural carbonation, leading to it sometimes being referred to as “Brussels Champagne”. Due to the aged hops it has little to no traditional hoppy flavour, and the wild yeasts give it a dry, cider-like taste. The flavour has been referred to as sour and “barnyard-like”.
Like Zeste and Sel, Gueuze is a Belgian Bearded d’Anvers. He’s just not show quality. His biggest breed standard fault is his wattles. Aside from those he does have good qualities, such as nice short back, full hackles, broad chest, and broad head with a short beak. Belgian d’Anvers really shouldn’t have any wattles though (they are actually a disqualification), much less such noticeable ones that are two different sizes. Another fault is his missing spike on the back of his comb, but that’s a bit complicated. He was born with one, but I came home one day to find he had somehow partially dubbed himself! All that remained of his comb spike was a little scab. Despite his faults, he is still pretty in his own way.
Most of all I love his big, stompy feet. They are nearly twice the size of the girls’ feet.