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frontyard chickens

Homesteading update: eggs

Let me catch you up on the chickens.

In short, they’ve grown up. Sometime in July, Goldie layed her first egg. She graced it upon our neighbor who was chicken-tending during our victorious summer of camping.

I’ve never experienced the chicken coming-of-age transition before, and let me tell you it is A Thing. In the days before The First Egg, the girls were small, skitterish, made little peeps and clucks, and made staying out of our way their main business. Here is what our neighbor relayed to me about The Day of The First Egg. Before she’d  even discovered it, she knew something was going on. The ladies were strutting and squawking like narcissistic high school seniors at prom.

Bless our neighbor for recounting this by shuffling around our front yard with her elbows angled just so, her neck bobbing out and in, and for saving the first few eggs for us to see. She intuited that this was also a very big moment for me. It was.

I crooned over them. They were so perfect and small. Little starter versions of real, live eggs.

First Eggs

And they were delicious. It was a miracle to see them sputtering to white in the cast iron skillet I inherited from my grandmother.

Over time, the eggs have gotten bigger, and now they’re your standard medium/large that you get at the supermarket. Except for the fact that they’re a sepia rainbow. And Mavis’ are always this amazing blue-green color and more oblong than the rest.

We’ve also gotten a few whoppers. Like one from this morning that we cracked open to find 2 yolks inside.

BigEgg
When I first layed eyes on it, I audibly winced. I hope she did some deep breathing when that one was coming out.

Now, our gals are routine and established layers. We usually get 3-5 eggs per day. The bounty is amazing.

And of course I have slipped into the mundane routine of it all, but I still get shocked into awe by the cycle we’re part of. We throw our cast off cheerios and weeds and apple cores and rotting pumpkins into the run (in addition to their pellets and scratch), and in exchange, these birds make us food and fertilizer. Every effing day. That daily wheel of give and take brings me back to the human animal I am. And even though I can be found hemming and hawing in bed about having to go outside to let the chickens out, I can also be found whispering “thanks gals” into the nest box in the afternoon.

Really. Thanks gals. You’re doing a bang up job.

Homesteading update: the chickens have landed

I spent Sunday afternoon somewhere between extremely tired and blissed out. That feeling when something you’ve worked really hard for and toiled over is suddenly, actually here.

Chickens.

In case you weren’t aware, I’ve wanted chickens for a really long time. Remember, way back when I had those chicken and kale dreams? Well, it turns out that the kale was easier to realize than the chickens for a number of reasons. Among them, radical rent increases, pregnancy, buying a duplex, moving and becoming a family of 4.

But we stayed the course, and were regularly reminded of that way-back dream every time we had to haul this coop around over the last 2 years.

#frontyardchickens

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I’m pretty obsessed with these ladies. We chose 4 very docile breeds that are known for being good layers. From head placement in the photo from left to right, there’s the Black Sex-Link who Jo has already named Rosie, the Black Australorp who is still unnamed (suggestions?!), the brown and black mottled lady is an Easter Egger who I’ve already taken a particular liking to and named Mavis. And that big golden gal is a Buff Orpington, also, as yet, unnamed. So feel free to put some names in the hopper.

I chose to get pullets (teenager chickens) rather than baby chicks because I’ve had enough baby action around here, and it’s just less time and labor and material intensive. Pullets have their adult feathers and can sleep outside and eat out of all the adult gear, so no need for heating lamps or special feeders that you only use for a handful of weeks. We chose to buy our chickens from Dare 2 Dream Farms, a sweet and savvy outfit nestled near the coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Their website is a complete dream come true–organized, beautiful and delivering exactly the information you need instead of overwhelming you with 300 coop designs or a forum 6 miles long about how to keep pests from eating your layers. We got their coop-ready package which thrilled the pants off me, because it meant I didn’t have to strap the boys in and hunt around for feeders and food and wonder if the person at the farm supply store was giving the city girl a line.

dare2dream

It probably sounds like they gave me my chickens for free so I’d write all these nice things about them, but no. I’m just a shameless promoter of things that I find helpful. And they were radically helpful from the breath of fresh air website to Jeremy (Dare 2 Dream farmer and co-founder) hanging out in our yard while the girls pecked around their new home. He checked out our coop, gave us tips on how to not freak the ladies out in their first few days with us, and we yakked like old neighbors about farming and New Zealand, as you do.

And then I just spent the rest of the afternoon sort of dopey and in love, staring fuzzy-eyed into the distance and listening to their sweet little croons.

I finally got my chickens.

**long, slow, satisfied sigh**