got eggs?

We do!  What seemed like an eternity, and was in fact just 5 short months of maturation for our little ladies, ended in late October with the arrival of our very first egg.  I literally ran into the street with the lovely, perfect brown specimen clutched protectively in my hand – screaming and jumping like a kindergartener who is first to the playground.

Neighbors who had no idea we’d ventured into the world of chicken keeping smiled indulgently as I held out my prize for their inspection – a look of realization finally spreading across their faces as they began to understand just where that egg had originated. In. My. Yard!  From my own chickens!  Well, they might not have been as impressed as I was – but they humored me.

A thing of beauty, and a joy...until we cooked it.

A thing of beauty, and a joy…until we cooked it.

Seriously, I wanted to bronze it. I felt like I should send out birth announcements. I did NOT want to break it, or do less than place it on the mantle in a position of honor.  At least until the 2nd, 3rd, 4th eggs came.  At last I was able to relent, and scrambled eggs seemed like less a travesty and more a necessity.

The kiddo got a kick out of breaking that first egg!

The kiddo got a kick out of breaking that first egg!

In the beginning, an egg a day seemed like true bounty.  As one hen after another reached egg laying age, the count began to grow.  I rejoiced when I had enough to actually fill an egg carton!  Hopeful family members began saving their old cartons, and I wondered if I could ever bring myself to part with these gifts from my generous, gorgeous pets.

Every egg is an amazement!

Every egg is an amazement!

We average 5 eggs a day now. That doesn’t seem like many, right?  Five eggs -they (almost) fit in one hand when they are gathered. But 5 A DAY is actually a lot!  Eggs began to fill the spaces in our kitchen.

Eggs, eggs everywhere!

Eggs, eggs everywhere!

I sought out ways to efficiently clean and store them. The fridge filled up. I began to give them to my family, at last satisfied that I could not possibly use them all – no matter how many muffins, cookies, omelets, and quiches I planned to make. I cleared space on the kitchen counter and bought an ingenious little contraption called an egg skelter. Two dozen eggs fit nicely and it amuses me no end to roll them down the chute!

The egg skelter - Like a roller coaster for eggs!

The egg skelter – Like a roller coaster for eggs!

I have begun to sell our eggs.  I figure they are a cooperative effort between me and the hens.  I feed the girls, clean the coop, make sure they are happy and safe.  They lay beautiful, tasty brown protein orbs. It’s a pretty good partnership.  And I get a side benefit – every single day gathering those eggs gives me a thrill.

The 2nd Most Popular House on the Block

Our neighbors, the ones with 8 kids, recently completed construction of a built in pool.  This means they were automatically granted the title Most Popular House on the Block by the under 12 set. It is hard to compete with a pool for sheer cool factor. Just ask my sister, she has a pool too – and usually gets to host family dinners in the summer.  Coincidence?  I think not.

There is no denying – kids love water!

Our backyard does not house a cement pond (thanks for the memories Beverly Hillbillies!), but we retain bragging rights as the 2nd Most Popular House on the Block. It turns out chickens can be a kid’s best friend when it comes to attracting the attention of playmates.

The kiddo loves Camilla!
(Photo by Marcus Emerson)

On any given day you might find four or five giggling kids feeding berries to the hens, walking through chicken poop with sheer fascination and delight (no, really, dog poop makes them re-enact the projectile vomiting scene from the Exorcist, chicken poop is fun!) or attempting to sneak up behind an unsuspecting fowl in order to give her a thorough petting.

Our five year old neighbor boy, Z, stands on our front doorstep and cries when our 2 tiny dogs greet him from behind the screen door.  But he has no problem holding Camilla or Eloise, the gentlest of our flock.

Even timid kids like chickens.

Life with chickens and a small boy just over the fence has become something one would imagine the life of a mobster under heavy FBI surveillance would feel like – no matter what I am doing or where I am standing, Z is there to give advice and narration:

Z: Hey! Are you feeding your chickens?

Me: (Tossing tomato slices to a waiting feathered friend, or 6) Yep, feeding the chickens.

Z: Why?

Me: I thought it would be a good idea.

Z: Do you think they will die if you don’t feed them?

Me: Something like that.

Z: Do you think I should feed them?

Me: What did you have in mind?

Z: Well, I don’t like broccoli very much, maybe they could have that!

The ladies are a never ending source of amusement to our whole family – from the moment I open the run gate and all six fly out in different directions, squawking as though they are being chased by a coyote, to the moment they head up the ladder for the night, jostling one another for the best position in the coop. And all the kids in the neighborhood feel the same. Just wait until we find the first egg!

Dignified? Um, no. Funny? Yes!
(Photo by Marcus Emerson)