Sunday, July 10, 2011

A chicken update

Just in case you're dying to know how the chicken situation is coming along...

See those? Those are cute little itty-bitty chicken eggs! Our girls are laying. I'm so proud of them.

Two Little Girls absolutely love checking for chicken eggs. Actually, they love anything to do with the chickens. They run out several times a day to see if anyone has laid an egg, and hearing, "Mom! There's another egg!" is music to my ears. A little girl rushing to the back door with a still-warm egg in her hands and a big smile on her face makes this whole project completely worthwhile.

And because I had eggs, and because I've recently figured out this whole pie crust thing, I made a quiche:

Fresh eggs, homegrown spinach, homegrown onions. Store-bought cheese because I was lazy, and bacon. It's really a shame I don't eat eggs. That's a lot of work for a dinner I won't even touch. But it did showcase the first fresh eggs nicely.

I thought the chickens would lose their novelty. Most of my friends have chickens, and all of their children are basically over them. But not mine. Still, every single day when school and chores are done, the question is, "Can we go out and play with the chickens?" They haven't figured out yet that chickens don't actually play. They truly love these chickens. Whoever said chickens aren't cuddly just never forced them to be. Most of them are tame enough that they don't run away, especially from my oldest. A few come running up to her, waiting for the love and affection she will inevitably shower them with.

However. Chickens are a pain! So much of this project I'm irritated and frustrated with.

For instance, you know that sweet picture painted by the stories in magazines like Organic Gardening, where they talk about how your chickens will eat the bugs from your garden and scratch the soil up and walk around fertilizing it for you? All of this is true... and for a few days, I was thrilled to see my chickens doing such useful work in my garden.

Until they ate my Swiss Chard. Glorious, huge rainbow chard stalks reduced to... well, rainbow colored stalks. They've eaten every bit of leaf on every single stalk. They ate the kale down to stumps, and have started in on the beets. They tore the lettuce apart completely while looking for earwigs to munch, leaving limp, rotting lettuce leaves in their wake. They've torn down the climbing beans, they take naps on the fluffy beds of carrot tops, and there are holes pecked in some of my green tomatoes. Chickens have voracious appetites, and they're not going to limit themselves to pesky bugs. They want those greens! The up side: my chickens must be the healthiest chickens in town for all the fresh, dark green leafies they're eating.

So last night, we built them a pen in the corner of the yard. More space to run around than in their coop, plenty of green grass, sunflowers, and weeds to eat. (It's truly a shame we can't teach chickens to identify weeds and eat only those, isn't it?) And now the girls get the job of chasing the chickens across the yard to their pen from the coop every morning. And when I'm out working in the garden in the evenings, the chickens are welcome to join me... but only for a short time, not long enough to decimate any other crops.

And the rooster. Oh, my sweet, pretty rooster. I love him. He's gorgeous, and he has such a personality. Except that he attacked my mother when she was trying to care for them while we were away. And now he's been chasing my three year old across the yard, sending her screaming up on top of the picnic table. He loves me. He loves Chloe. He realizes Andrew is a very large man and could do significant damage. But Cora isn't all that intimidating to him. I gave her a big sunflower stalk to use as a weapon, and gave her permission to smack him every time he runs at her. He's not very far from the stew pot, that one. It'll make me sad to eat our little friend, and not to hear his crows every morning... and afternoon, and night... but I won't have my kids afraid to play outside for fear of being chased by a rooster.

So anyway, that's the chicken situation here on our little urban farmstead.


Jamie @ Woodside Gardens said...

I have very vivid memories of my step dad chasing the rooster around the yard with an axe, once he finally got tired of seeing us running screaming from the little terrorist!

Deb said...

I love reading your blog & life adventures... You're such a cool mommy...

So, why don't you eat those yummy eggs?? Just curious...


Wendy said...

ooh. That IS quite a situation. I'm sorry he's not getting with the program! That would be tough to have to make a decision.

Anonymous said...

Julie, I didn't know you had chickens. Aren't they fun. I enjoy my chickens. I like looking in the back yard and seeing them. We had the same problem with one of our roosters, my first one. He attacked me one day bad, then went after my husband twice. The second time he grabbed that rooster and killed him and we ate him for dinner that night, well they did, I couldn't quite bring myself to eat him. he was the only mean one we ever had. I think you just have to make sure they know you are the boss. I don't have a rooster right now-I miss hearing them.
Thanks for the info on Grand Junction. Thanks to Tom-tom I had no trouble getting around and it was a very successful trip for my son, who now thinks he might want to go there for college. But man, you guys really are in a desert aren't you. And I thought we were dry.
Thanks again, Diane