by Meredith Chilson
Photos by author
Without looking at the calendar, it’s hard to tell what month it is. Our weather station is telling us to prepare for widespread frost tonight. The sun is shining, but the air is cold. Two days ago, we had snow showers. Two weeks ago, it was balmy and 80 degrees.
The sunny days interspersed with remnants of winter remind me, a bit, of myself. I’m oh, so very eager to begin digging in the earth and start work on all my springtime chores … but many mornings I hate to crawl out of my cozy, flannel-lined nest of blankets.
And yet … I do climb out because I have ladies waiting for me! My flock of laying hens has no qualms at all about rushing out to meet the day. My winter worries and discouragement with no eggs in the nests have been laid to rest … as soon as daylight hours extended just a bit, the girls began laying again.
I have 17 hens: Eleven of them are beginning their fifth year here in the valley, three more are 3 years old now, and the final three are 2. I have ordered a dozen day-old pullets from a hatchery in Ohio. They will be arriving early next month.
Before another winter, I will have to make some decisions about which hens to keep and which to invite to dinner. Some of the girls have names … “Jimmy,” “Le-A.” All of them come running to greet me, and yet, the coop is not big enough to hold them all for another winter.
I’ve been banding each hen that I’m sure is laying eggs. As time goes by, more and more members of my flock are beginning to lay again.
I suppose it’s possible that the word is out and about in the chicken yard that fashionable hens wear colorful plastic bracelets this year. And, maybe they’ve heard me say that all these are Life-Saving Bracelets.
|Mavis modeling her green bracelet|
I have also found some really large eggs: Some have double yolks. Heavy hens such as Buff Orpingtons (I have seven), when they are experienced layers, will lay these extra-extra large eggs. Unfortunately, this also often happens at the end of their laying life.