Chicken Chicken Chicken Chicken. Egg.

“Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.”
     ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Lady Madonna, one of our new chickens



Almost two weeks ago, we bought four chickens from a local microbiologist.  Despite the oddity of buying from someone whose interest in chickens seemed to be somewhat scientific – he was interested in egg color or something along that nature – it was a perfectly normal transaction.

Chris walked through the chicken yard with the owner and pointed out the hens we chose.  I hung back on the other side of the fence, not quite trusting the birds. Their beaks looked pointier and their claws much sharper than I expected.  Four hens – two beige and two dark tan ones – were lifted by their legs, carried briefly upside-down and loaded into the cage we brought.

After a noisy but uneventful ride home, Chris released the chickens into the chicken coop that he had built for them in the barn.  We coaxed them out into the yard.  We poured feed into their brand-new automatic feeder  – it resembled a big tin can the size of an oatmeal canister fastened above a big tin plate.   Their watering container was filled with fresh water.  The nesting boxes had fresh dried grass.  The bottom of the coop was lined with pine shavings.

We named the hens Lady Madonna (that’s her in the photo), Henny Penny, Lucy, and Ethyl.

Henny Penny took a fancy to Chris right away and breaks out into a run toward him whenever she sees him.  It could have something to do with the fact that he is the one who feeds them, but it’s fun to watch at any rate.

We got the chickens because we wanted the advantage of fresh eggs with higher nutrient content as well as to simply enjoy raising chickens.  We had space in the otherwise unused barn and a large fenced in area and Chris enjoys raising animals, so it seemed a natural step.

I started checking for eggs from the first day.  A couple of  times a day, I took a tour around the coop, checking the nesting boxes, the floor, and all the ledges.  Then I walked all over the yard, looking for eggs.  Nothing.

Our hens are a breed usually raised for broiling rather than laying eggs (Freedom Rangers).  They are usually not as prolific with egg-laying as other breeds.  While we plan to add more traditionally egg-laying pullets (no roosters!) over the next couple of months, we got these mostly because Chris had finished our coop and the opportunity presented itself to get these four hens.

We waited almost two weeks.  Every day the same question:  Did you find any eggs?  Answer: Nope.  Repeat daily, sometimes several times a day. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nothing.

We started getting a little nervous.  Would they lay eggs at all?  I was already attached to our “girls”, and loved watching their antics, even though I still felt cautious around them.  We decided we were keeping them regardless.

Then it happened. Chris went out to clean the coop and check on the “girls.”  There, in the coop (not in the nesting box, but that’s another story of chicken-egg-laying lessons learned) was a beautiful, perfectly formed brown egg.

Brown egg freshly laid


You would think we’d never seen an egg before.  It was simply lovely.  The egg was surprisingly clean, smooth, and I’d swear it had a bit of a glow about it.  We had a mini-celebration in the chicken yard.   I suspect this type of reaction on our part will wear off eventually as the hens start laying regularly.

Who laid the egg?  Not one of the hens behaved in the least bit differently.  We don’t know, but I think it was Lady Madonna.

Myself, I’ll never look at an egg quite the same way.   I understand now why a microbiologist would be fascinated with them. They are an oval-shaped miracle.

Have you had any experience raising chickens?







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