Our girls are laying again after a long winter break when we were lucky to collect one egg a day. Now there are four or five eggs to gather each day, in a rainbow of colours that makes me smile inside and leaves me wishing that one (grown-up) member of our family hadn't developed an allergy to them in the last little while. So while no frittatas will be arriving on our dinner table anytime soon, the surplus means we can eat eggs for breakfast any day we please, once Dad has left for work in the morning. And pressing a carton of eggs into the hands of a grandparent feels a small token of gratitude for many years of eggs, fruit, vegetables and love being freely given to our family from their farm and gardens.
Our chicks grew up into mostly gangly roosters that met their end a month or two ago, along with the little Pekin hen we had hoped would keep our pet bantam company, but which turned out to have the same genetic defect as one of her brothers. She rapidly lost the use of her legs and had to be dispatched, as did our overly amorous drake, who would not leave the same bantam alone. With all that lopping of heads and sinking of sacks in the (duck's) bath tub, Quinn is starting to think his father's hands instruments of death. Grant arrived home from work one day and commented on a dog he had seen running down the road, before heading outside to make sure our garden gates were closed. Looking up from his jigsaw puzzle Quinn asked "Has Dad killed the dog?" He now blames him when a fish dies as well. Poor Dad - he never asked to be the family executioner.
Another duck was taken by a cat (we think), quickly followed by a Leghorn, so in the interests of broadening our flock against any future losses, Lewis and I set off to Albany with Thea for the winter poultry auction on the weekend. We came home with two beautiful Barnevelders that promptly flew over the back fence. Our neighbour passed one hen back over the fence that night (and she laid us a lovely speckly brown egg today), but her sister is nowhere to be seen.
The one hatchling still with us is our Polish chook, Stripey, endeared to us all by the comical mohawk it developed a few days after cracking its way out of its egg. We feared another rooster as her behaviour is very different from the rest of the girls, but she surprised us all by laying her first egg last week. Sighs of relief all around and a celebratory visit up to the house for the chook followed as soon as the boys got home from school.
|Stripey as a two week old chick and last week in the garden|