Gender reversal in the chicken coop

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This week, gender-bending. Images of Katie Price’s ex-husband dressed as a woman may be flickering disturbingly in your mind. I digress, but did you see those pictures? Even the Young Mistress, at six years old, flicking through my magazine, didn’t buy the fact that he was supposed to look like a lay-dee.

YM: “That girl’s dress is nice.” Me (bearing in mind the ‘dress’ is a few strips of shiny red PVC): “Erm, yes it is. But that’s actually a boy, not a girl.” YM: “Why is he wearing a dress?”.

Good question. He has huge pecs, the upper-body shape of a Dairylea triangle, five 0’clock shadow and a chin like Kirk Douglas. Me: “Some men like to dress as girls.” YM (in that totally accepting way that under-eights have): “Oh, OK”. Back to brushing Barbie’s hair.

Yes, this week, gender is very much on my mind. In the immortal words of Steven Tyler: “Yeah, yeah, dude looks like a lay-dee.” Steven, whilst undisputedly all man, did display certain feminine traits – his long, tousled hair, half-buttoned shirts, strutting and pretty dangling scarves tied to his mic stand – I fear these were mostly there to lure in unsuspecting groupies, like anglers’ rods have that shiny bit at the front, which they wave around to attract fish.

I have been taken in by a dude looking like a lay-dee. Remember the he-yew-ge white chick? Well, it’s not him. He had barely reached his 10th week and we knew she was definitely a he. He is in the cockerel pen now, with two others, getting bigger (and, one could argue, tastier) every week. He is the Arnie of the hen run, 100 per cent gen-yew-ine beefcake.

No, once Arnie and his two pals had been definitely ID’d as male – huge combs, dangly wattles, upright carriages, ankles like tree trunks – and removed to a separate pen to enjoy the sun on their backs and the earth under their feet before they felt hands on their necks, we thought we had a total of three boys.

Occasionally, you get a slow-burner who takes a while to mature, and just when you expect them to start laying eggs they throw back their heads and start to crow. Drat and double-drat, as Dick Dastardly was fond of exclaiming.

We had one last year, George, who started as Georgina and was an only chick who spent all his time with mum. We blamed that for his late development.

But this year’s hen-that-turned was identical to his sisters, apart from his very well-developed comb and wattle. He kept himself well-hidden, not wanting to rock the coop, blending in until the day they were released out into the big coop when, I swear, he bolted out crowing and, with an evil glint in his eye, made straight for our cockerel Bruce and – to our astonishment – pretty quickly gave him what can only be described as a good shoeing.

His freedom was pretty short-lived. Having revealed his true identity he has been sin-binned to a separate coop and runs with two lay-dees who are undergoing treatment for bumble foot.

Once they are well, it’s Paxo for him.

I wonder if our strident friend Katie Price ever considered the same fate for her ex?