Wandering around the coop, my husband said to me … “it’s about time these damn chickens start laying some eggs and earn their keep. Otherwise, they are going to find their way onto the barbecue grill!”
I thought this was quite insensitive. I mean, what was HE doing at 4 months old? Blowing spit bubbles and pooping himself. “Well you know they are probably nervous and stressed. They see you stomping around threatening to turn them into tomorrow’s special, and it makes them anxious. And besides, my chickens are my entertainment. I pick them up and pet them and watch as they clap their little wings when I feed them pasta salad.”
It’s true. When he told me that all 20 chickens would probably not produce eggs all the time, and some would have to become stew or chicken stock, I understood. “This is a farm – it’s not a chicken retirement home.” I know the circle of life. I like Elton John and all, but he MUST also understand that there were one or two chickens that would live with us until their last feather dropped. And those were the two chickens who would automatically lay down by my feet waiting to be pet, picked up and loved. Who would climb on my back when I bent over.
Brad agreed – and went to get the tags so we could sort out which ones would live out their entire lives with us here at Reluctant Farm.
But a funny thing happened between that discussion and the day when we went to get the leg tags. I walked into the chicken run, and the chickens dropped at my feet. Not just my two little black and white barred rocks, but some whites, some Rhode Island Reds, and two more barred rocks. It was like they were all overcome with the vapors. And that’s when I realized … Chickens KNOW. They are spiritually, emotionally and soulfully connected to Mother Earth. Chickens know things we will never be able to grasp. And that’s when I said realized – we WILL become the first ever chook retirement home.
After this assurance to my girls, a few weeks later we did our normal routine of checking in the nest boxes. Starting at one end, counting – nope, nope, nope, nope … then all of a sudden – the skies opened and a golden egg appeared – not from a goose, but from my favorite barred rock chicken!
I swear, you would have thought Ed McMahon himself rose from the grave and knocked on my front porch with the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes check for $1 million dollars. In fact, if he was on my doorstep I would have run him over looking for my camera to take a picture of our very first egg.
I think I took more pictures of that first egg than I took when my first baby was born. I had to get it from different angles …
Cupped in my hand to make it look bigger …
In my Indian woven basket as an art piece …
Nestled in a kitchen towel for effect …
We were so excited we immediately scrambled it up for breakfast and shared one tiny egg between us.
When we’d run down every day to the coop to see if we have any other little gems waiting for us, there would be anywhere from 3-5 eggs daily. It’s the miracle of life!
The chickens were obviously not as moved about the whole experience as I am. Most of the time they seem a bit irritated that I keep raising the lids on the next boxes. They look at me and I’m sure they’re thinking … “hey, do you mind? I’m doing my business here? Can’t a hen get herself some privacy?”
I kinda felt like I had caught someone in a compromising position in an outhouse. I’d say “oh, sorry” and back away.
So I skipped to my lou yesterday, with my egg basket, only to find SEVEN eggs. Seven. It was a new record! But now I have this …
Yep, 20 eggs. And this is AFTER I gave a dozen to the neighbor. And BEFORE I go down to the coop this morning.
Now every morning Brad asks me “do you want me to make some eggs for breakfast?” And after omelets, scrambled eggs and three quiches, I’m a big egged-out.
I’m thinking of making a couple of angel food cakes. Maybe some soufflés. Lemon curd? Or maybe I’ll just leave a dozen on various doorstep and run away. Like a farm girl version of Kris Kringle.
With the eggs, the copious amount of swiss chard, tomatoes and cucumbers that are sitting on my kitchen counter, awaiting culinary creativity I just can’t seem to muster, I think I will, perhaps, drive to the city, see a movie, preferably a double feature, eat Baby Ruth and popcorn. Then when I come back it may all be a hazy memory.
Or a recurring nightmare, like the one where I can never find my house, or am sitting in my 8th grade classroom naked. Either way, there is no escaping Reluctant Farm.