Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coming of Age in the Coop

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that last May, a couple of shoe-size boxes filled with tiny chirping balls of fluff arrived at Little Bent Creek Farm. While some of those chicks have gone to other farms and a few have flown on to that Great Chicken Coop in the Sky, most of them are still with us. But they are no longer our "little ones." Just in the past couple of weeks, each of the three roosters (one Ameraucana and two Delawares) have started to crow. And as if to give their suitors a good reason to sing, the hens are finally laying!

It feels like it's been a long time in coming. It was 24 weeks ago that we started feeding, watering, and cleaning up after these birds. And--ask my girls if you don't believe me--they demand A LOT of all three! But to see Peppercorn (one of the Barred Rocks) climb up into that nesting box and labor to produce her first perfect little egg, makes it all worth it. We are especially appreciative of our young ones coming of age at this time since our older hens (the Rhode Island Reds) have slowed down their egg production radically during recent weeks due to the changes in sunlight hours that accompany the changing of the seasons. (You can read more about the laying cycles of hens in this University of Kentucky publication.)

The cockerels-turned-roosters are marvelous: dignified, beautiful, and valuable guardians of the flock. But, as on most small farms, the "mama hens" are the most treasured fowl around here--providing us with nutritious eggs; spunky but gentle friends; and perhaps next spring, more tiny balls of fluff.

The Hen
by Oliver Herford

Alas! my Child, where is the Pen 

That can do Justice to the Hen? 

Like Royalty, She goes her way, 

Laying foundations every day, 

Though not for Public Buildings, yet 

For Custard, Cake and Omelette. 

Or if too Old for such a use 

They have their Fling at some Abuse, 

As when to Censure Plays Unfit 

Upon the Stage they make a Hit, 

Or at elections Seal the Fate 

Of an Obnoxious Candidate. 

No wonder, Child, we prize the Hen, 

Whose Egg is mightier than the Pen.

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