Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Eggs!

On Christmas Eve I walked out to the coop and was amazed to find two eggs instead of just one. Ann Bancroft, our Dark Brahma, had finally decided to start laying!! You can imagine our shock then to go out on 12-29 and find a blue egg, meaning one of Americaunas (we don't know whether it was Easter or Bunny yet) had also decided to start laying!! YIPPEE!!
Shannon was very impressed by the arrival of the first blue egg. He will be 5 in January, and he is suprisingly very gentle and careful when handling the eggs. Both boys do quite well with them. They were each so enchanted with the egg (Tristan was still napping when the photos were took, hence his absence), that I had to let them put it into the egg carton together! Quite a feat that it wasn't broken considering they're 2 1/2 and almost 5! Everyday since the 29th Shannon has been insistent on going out and looking for the eggs himself.
It is really funny, but it seems that once the birds begin laying the become much friendlier. We've never had a mean bird (and we never will, at least not for long!), but they aren't pets really either. However, the ones that are laying get much more curious and interested in us. They all will come out and follow us around as much as the can in the tractor, but if you open a nest box, or the door to the coop, it is a different story. LadyBird in particular, as our bird that has been laying the longest, will immediately come into the coop and near you. When you reach out to pet her, she sort of drops to the floor, but allows you to pet her none-the-less. If you open the nest box they will often hop up onto the roost in front of it and stick their heads into the nest box and allow you to pet them. Ann Bancroft has started showing more interest in being petted as have the Americaunas, hence my theory. The Pattis (our two Partridge Cochins, both named Patti) will come look at you but will walk off if you try to pet them. When Shannon opened the nest box on the tractor the other day, LadyBird immediately hopped in there. I was quite worried about her hopping on out and getting loose in the yard (dogs were both out with us and I was holding Tristan, it wouldn't have been good), but instead I saw his little hand reach down and begin petting her gently, and her allowing it. He then shut the nest box up properly, which is impressive since it has a latch that must be locked.
Our Buff Orpingtons began laying on Sept. 6th this year. That was the day of our first egg. At the time we had two Buff Orpingtons and though they weren't officially named, they were both "LadyBird" to me. A week or so after the first egg there was an attack that killed one of our Buff Orpingtons and left one Dark Brahma having to be put down. Since then we've added the two Americaunas who are both 2 months younger in age than the other biddies. It wasn't too bad a transition phase, though Bunny seems to be the lowest on the totem pole now. After that we had another attack which left LadyBird and Ann Bancroft, and possibly Bunny, injured. Luckily everyone has healed well, and we've fortified the tractor against (fingers' crossed!!) future attacks. However, it was 3 weeks after the last attack that LadyBird took as hiatus on her egg-laying. I state all this because, as part of our urban homesteading, we've been daily noting how many eggs we get on the calendar. Today I added it up ~ we've gotten a total of 72 eggs this year.
I'm sure to those who've had chickens for years this number is nothing and piddly. I hope to view it as quite a meager number myself next year. But, considering all we've been through with and for these birds, right now it is a number that we are quite proud of. We've had to deal with attacks not only from wild animals (raccoons, possums), but also attacks from a neighbor who has just flat out decided to hate us now. We've had the City called on us, had the news crews out here, and have been in the paper. We have an online petition. We've told our story over and over. We've also had to work hard to educate those close to us who don't understand about urban homesteading, much less keeping chickens.
So, at the end of the year, we've got 72 eggs, at least 3 out of 6 chickens laying, our kids learning how to help care for the chickens and contribute to our lifestyle ("Everyone Helps" is our motto), and our friends and family going from being aghast to being somewhat impressed and proud. We think this is enough. Definitely a plus, and enough for us to know we are living a truly privileged life!!

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