Maiden Rock Bantams
The Maiden Rock Bantam is a spry beautiful little bantam that appeared on paper many years before it appeared in flesh and feather. Long before I began collecting those rare birds that would become its progenitors, it existed as a text file on my computer - a list of genes, a roughed-out breed standard, and a simple line drawing. For years my hard drive served as its brooder and the rafters of my mind as its only roost. But today it is a free spirit, an ephemeral, living work of art that watches the skies for raptors and steals away its nests in the hedgerow. It looks to me - its sculptor - for nothing but a handful of grain, a spade of fresh turned earth, and from time to time a shoulder from which to see the world as I do.
No other breed possesses the genotype P/P R/R Dv Dv which gives rise to the maiden rock’s distinctive head and comb. Neither sex should show any crest, beard or dewlap. In both sexes the wattles and earlobes should be very small or nonexistent. In the hen the comb is but a smooth patch of skin covered with short hairs. As it extends out onto her beak the short hairs give way to a thickening and raising of the skin, which when combined with her cavernous nostrils, give her a bit of a Roman nose. The rooster’s comb is small and arranged in two distinct parts. The first is a very small, low cushion type comb covered in short hairs centered on top of his head. The second part is bilaterally lobed and sits in front of the first, well out above cavernous nostrils like a small chunky bowtie or a tiny wad of bubblegum – giving him a bit of ‘swan’s knob’. My selection is for continually smaller and fuzzier combs and for a head-shape that is browy and a bit crow-like. The overall expression should be intelligent and haughty. When peering into the brooder one afternoon my sister knit her brow and commented, “You can just tell that the Maiden Rocks are smarter than the others.”
Regardless of the unusual head, the maiden rock is first and foremost a breed of intricate feather patterns. Only three feather patterns are permissible – penciled (aka autosomal barred), spangled (as in hamburgs), and laced. In all varieties hens and roosters are marked exactly the same and must be tail-marked and henny feathered. Beyond this basic set of rules governing their coloration, pretty much anything goes. The inclusion of silver (S), dominant white (I), cream (ig), lavender (lav), mahogany (Mh), blue (Bl), chocolate (choc) and any such gene that would broaden the range of color combinations without detracting from the three accepted patterns is encouraged. Indeed many of these genes have already been introduced, but at this early stage my emphasis is on further refining the gold laced, gold spangled, and gold penciled varieties.
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." - Helen Keller