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Egg Dreams

Now, onto my persistent egg dreams. For the first time in seven years I have no chickens and no fresh eggs except for those I buy from my local farm buddies. Having to bridge the gap between those I buy locally with the occasional store-bought dozen is causing me serious stress. Each time I reach for a carton of eggs in the supermarket, I cringe. They just aren’t the same!

How could I have even imagined I could go without chickens for a year? It’s not possible. That’s driven me into dreaming of the day when I again chase chickens into their coop at night. It’s hopeless. I’ve even started to (virtually) flip through hatchery catalogs, perusing the many different breeds of chickens available.

For all of you gardeners out there, this is very much like slavering over seed varieties. I see one breed that I love, then flip to the next breed and change my mind. Or worse, think I want them both–or all.

That’s something I’m pretty committed NOT to doing. The wisest thing I’ve learned since getting my first three chickens is that you should buy a different breed of chicken each year so you always know how old they are. Otherwise, you end up slaughtering your best layer instead of her grandmother.

So what breed of chicken calls to me this year? I know I’m not going back to the Brahmas.  As sweet-natured as they were, they were too big.  I think chickens must be like dogs, the larger breeds (like Bear) aging faster than the little breeds because those Brahmas looked like ancient hens after they came out of the plucker. Over the years I’ve had quite the assortment, birds that lay white eggs, birds that lay blue eggs, brown egg layers and even a hybrid that laid khaki green eggs. There’ve been Buckeyes, Astralorpes, Ameraucanas, Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Speckled Sussex, Orpingtons, and that nasty Jungle Fowl/Astralorpe rooster that killed my best laying hen. He didn’t last an hour after he did that, but his sisters turned out to be really good egg layers.

Naked Neck hens - ItalyI’m sure I don’t want Bantams. Their eggs are too small and with a Blackhawk nesting in the corner of the property, they’d be gone in a season. And I don’t want those foolish Polish things with the feathers in their eyes, nor do I want the Turken. Although the one Turken hen I had was very nice, I just couldn’t get used to that naked neck. (This is coming from someone who thinks turkeys are beautiful.) The Orpingtons were broody, the Rhode Island Reds pretty aggressive with the other birds. The one Speckled Sussex rooster I had was calm and mild-mannered.

I’d love to do the Buckeyes again. Talk about steady and easy! They’re good in the heat and good in the cold, and they have the added benefit of looking a lot like baby Eagles as they’re fledging, which I thought was pretty cool. On top of that, they’re the only breed developed by a woman. The only problem I have is the hatchery I use doesn’t raise them and I won’t buy from a private grower again. Talk about difficult!

Bielefelder-kennhuhnOh, this is just too hard. Someone told me the Welsummers are great but a breed called the Bielefelder just caught my eye. It’s about the size of a Rhode Island Red: “This fairly new breed is making a huge splash in the poultry world with their dark, chocolate-colored brown eggs, large size, and docile temperament.”

Chocolate brown eggs. I’ve never had those before. Hmm. Back to flipping those virtual pages.

Tiny’s Shadow

The conversion of Lonely Girl from pig to sheep is now complete, at least in her mind and much to Tiny’s complete aggravation. That aggravation is complicated not just by Tiny’s certainty that Lonely Girl isn’t a sheep, but because the pig (She-ig? P-eep?) treats her the way Lonely Girl and her porcine sisters treated… Continue Reading

6 Sheep

This is an update on Lonely Girl. My last little (okay, not so little) piggy girl got tired of constantly complaining about being alone somewhere around the middle of last week. Once she realized that complaining wasn’t going to bring back her sisters, Lonely Girl took a look around and reconsidered her options. There weren’t… Continue Reading

Lonely Girl

It’s that time of year and four out of my five piggies are now gone. That leaves me with one lonely girl, who faces the same fate as her siblings later this week. But for the moment, she’s by herself for the first time in her life. It hasn’t been easy for her to make… Continue Reading

A Bit of Joy

Thank goodness for tenants and my piggy girls. If not for them, my continuing spate of catastrophes would have been hard to tolerate. This last week I discovered a crack in the water pipe leading to the house. How did I discover it? I was working in my kitchen when all of a sudden I… Continue Reading

Really?!

“Really?!” I said, my head tilted up to the gorgeous blue sky on Thursday morning. I was limping again, having tweaked a tendon even though I don’t recall stepping wrong. I was standing near the pig shelter. Stretched out in front of me was my favorite piggy girl, the one who showed belly every time I… Continue Reading

Sadness

Saturday evening, June gave me the spotted heifer I wanted so much. My first inkling that all was not going to go well was when I saw Little Iris’s hooves appear. Usually, calf hooves are aligned, hoof to hoof, knee to knee. Iris’s first hoof appeared by itself, and her second hoof appeared near the… Continue Reading

Another disappointing week

So here I am, another week older and I still don’t have a new calf (or milk) and I haven’t finished that #$%^@ book! That said, the book is much closer to being finished than it was a week ago because I finally figured out whodunit. (Praise be! I had myself completely fooled.) June is… Continue Reading

Nothing ever changes here

You can probably guess what that means. Yep. The book’s not done and the cow is still pregnant. Okay, I’ll admit that we’re both WAY closer to producing something. I’m thrilled that I have finally resolved who the murderer is. Boy, was I fooled! I put off writing this post for as long as I could in… Continue Reading

Pig update

I’d so like to tell you that June delivered her calf. I can’t! I swear, she’s doing this just to make me crazy. Actually, the only reason I’m not crazy is because I know there really is a calf and that calf was alive and well a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping that means… Continue Reading