Tuesday, November 18, 2014

back in eggs

We have gone without our own eggs here for some time.  Ever since a creature of the night started making off with one of our laying hens one by one.  Leaving only Raspberry as the sole survivor of our original flock.  Raspberry is a trooper.  And likely she survived these attacks because she is rather unfriendly, somewhat aggressive, and unafraid to defend herself.  We did not raise Raspberry from a chick, and her behavior shows it.  She is, in Elliott's best description, not a nice chicken.  Despite this, I am rather fond of her.  She follows me everywhere.  And for awhile, in her solitude she had the run of the place, alone and on the prowl.  And I have seen her take on a golden eagle. And win.  True story.

She has been quite a challenge to introduce to the new flock that we raised from chicks this summer and there were several moments that we whispered about whether it might be time for Raspberry to head to the farm along with roosters that kept outing themselves as the chicks came of age.  

But Raspberry seemed to know her tenuous position with us.  And despite the fact that she is rather elderly in chicken years, she continues to lay us one egg a day.  Every day.  It is hard to give that up when those eggs are the only eggs you are getting.  She is a smart lady.  And each day I have headed down to the coop and collected her egg, and checked in with the growing new hens.  

Raspberry has eventually made peace with them.  She has even begun roosting with them.  And she squawks and carries on when there is trouble in the coop at night, and has saved many a hen from being taken by a predator.  

Then, one day last week, there was another egg with hers.  Then two other eggs the next day.  And so on.  Our new flock is now laying.  And we are back in eggs.  Strangely timed, with the cold snap we are having and the days becoming short.  This is usually when hens stop laying for the winter.  But no.  My egg tray is full again.  And the eggs, the gorgeous, varied, unique eggs from our heritage breed hens are here.  After months of chick care inside then out.  Handling and feeding and bedding and tending.  We raised these hens ourselves.  And they are sweet and socialized and healthy.  

This process has taught us a great deal.  And has made these new eggs all the more beautiful and made each egg we have used taste better.  Feel better.

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